Just Say No to Halloween Costume #Fails

Ohio University's Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) created posters against racist Halloween costumes. For more information, visit STARS.

As you make plans to celebrate #Halloween, I thought I should provide this public service announcement. Now, for most, this is "common sense". However, what I know for sure is that common sense isn't always common and, every year, there are inevitable rule breakers. So, here goes:

(1) BLACKFACE IS NEVER COOL. Never. Ever. Not even when it's done by black people. But, here's the deal. Black people CAN still do it, if they choose to make a mockery of themselves and/or those who established black face. Call it oxymoronic. Call it unfair. Whatever. Like the N word, we should all refrain from using it for the betterment of society. But, we can say it. You can't. And, making excuses with dumb logic like, "Well, black people do it," might get you beat down. So, trust me on this one. You DO NOT have our permission to insult, ridicule or belittle us with your dark colored body makeup. To be clear, white face is ridiculous, not cool and unnecessary, too, unless you're going as a ghost and it's an all-white, everything situation.

(2) DO NOT poke fun at oppressed people. For example, you should probably refrain from dressing as an enslaved African, a victim of the Holocaust, an "Indian", etc. This is not cool. Ever. Nothing is funny or cute about oppression.

(3) STAY AWAY from people's religious beliefs. If you're a fan of the New Orleans Saints, sure, maybe be a nun or priest...unless they find that offensive or you have a Catholic friend that warns against it. BUT, if you're not, for example, Muslim...don't "pretend to be" on 10/31. It is not cool.

(4) IF YOU HAVE to explain it, it's probably not a good costume choice. It is an especially TERRIBLE idea if you have to qualify it with race, ethnicity, nationality or gender. Say, for instance, that you and your boo want to be Joseline Hernandez and Stevie J for Halloween. First, you're probably wondering, "Who?" RIGHT! The concept is already on shaky ground. But, let's just say you watch "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta" and this feels like a good idea. Fine...be Joseline Hernandez and Stevie J. But, you better make it so good that it is a given because, if you have to explain the costume with, "I'm Joseline Hernandez. You know, the Puerto Rican stripper/rapper/princess from 'Love and Hip Hop Atlanta' and he's my producer/cheating/misogynistic Black husband, Stevie J", you've failed. Your costume is a fail. You should not be invited to the party, next year.

(5) SAVE PRISON JUMPSUITS for when you actually commit a crime. This is ESPECIALLY important if: (a) you are a white judge in Louisiana; (b) you pair it with blackface and an afro; and, (c) your wife dresses as a police officer. A TOTAL FAILURE.

(6) DO NOT make a mockery of murder victims. I should not have to say this but the fact that people dressed as Trayvon Martin is still so very disturbing.

(7) Finally, if you've got kids, DO dress them as superheroes, police officers, ballet dancers, princesses, firefighters, nurses, etc. These are great folks to emulate. And, as my niece and nephew did at their Montessori School, accompany their costume with a report or presentation. Once, my niece was Oprah Winfrey and my nephew was Walter Payton. This gave them an opportunity to dress up AND learn!

Have fun. Be responsible. Be safe. Look both ways before crossing the street. Don't drink and drive. And...use common sense! At the end of the night, you will want to have had a good time - not have been a racist or insensitive prick (or the subject of social media's ire). #HappyHalloween

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