Do you remember the time when people could be whatever they wanted for Halloween and nobody was worried that they’d offend someone? Well, those days are over.
Officials at Michigan State University sent all students an email on Wednesday about the looming Halloween weekend and the football game that’s happening over the weekend against University of Michigan.
The bottom of this email included an reminder to all students that the should be mindful of what they where when it comes to their Halloween costumes.
The senior VP for hospitality and residential services as well as auxiliary enterprises, Vennie Gore, wrote the email saying that she was asking students to starting thinking about this right now, before the weekend. She said everyone needed to have a plan that was respectful and didn’t perpetuate stereotypes or cultural appropriation. She said students needed to do what’s best for them, their fellow classmates and the community as a whole. She also provided a link to an article to further explain which costumers were appropriate.
The linked article addresses ‘visible’ as well as ‘invisible’ identities that could be offended by Halloween costumes. It says that most people use Halloween to celebrate spookiness, but others used it to be sexist, racist, culturally insensitive or for biased behaviors. It says that experts claim it’s important not to portray groups of people in ways that could be demeaning – like grotesque or hyper-sexualized criminals.
It also quotes the director of health promotion at MSU, Dennis Martell, who says that misrepresentation dehumanizes others and is a way that ‘certain’ groups have exercised racial superiority.
It also claims that costumes are able to elicit trauma if they make fun of people’s experiences, bigotry, displacement or historical harm.
They also provided a list of ‘trauma-causing’ costumes:
- Pandemic victim
- Holocaust victim
- Black Face
- Cultural Stereotypes
- Body-shaming and/or objectifying
- Sexual Harassment
- Mental Illness
- National tragedies
The article further explains that cultures should not be used as costumes and how people that are marginalized can carry hardships that stem from their identity every days of the year.
MSU isn’t the first to start banning Halloween costumes. Other school are trying to make sure their costumes are more ‘equitable’ and ‘inclusive.’ It’s dangerous times we are living in, where you can’t even wear a Halloween costume without risking someone ‘trauma.’
Author: Jennifer Jenkins