Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

COLUMN: It's 2017, why are you still wearing an offensive Halloween costume?


“Savage Warband,” “Oriental Princess,” and “Witch Doctor” are all names I saw while looking for Halloween costumes.

A Native American headdress, an Asian woman in a gown and tiara and an African man wearing face paint and holding a staff — those were the costumes.

Really? Are we still living in the Stone Age? It’s 2017. We should have higher standards.

I know, I’m a white guy. I’m Italian so the worst costume someone could dress in to look like something from my culture is an old woman with a pot of pasta, talking about meatballs or even dressing like Tony Soprano or the Godfather. I wouldn’t be offended.

Honestly, I’d probably laugh.

Someone dressing as Mario and doing a bad Italian accent doesn’t have the same history of disrespect to an Italian as someone putting on a Native American headdress and making war calls with a tomahawk does to a Native American.

The costumes I saw reminded me of the people I saw in Charles V. Park Library throughout the week passing out fliers and cards telling people to respect other cultures. They were telling students, “It’s a culture. Not a costume.”

It’s true. We shouldn’t dress like someone else’s culture when it’s offensive.

There’s probably someone reading this saying, “Well then you shouldn’t dress like Darth Vader because it’s offensive to Jedis, or you shouldn’t dress like Jack Sparrow because pirates will be offended.”

That’s stupid and entirely not the point.

If you can’t understand why a person might be offended by you wearing a costume that appropriates their culture, then talk to them. Try and figure out why they are uncomfortable with your costume. Actually talk with them and be part of the conversation.

Don’t be so quick to dismiss their concerns.

If your costume involves a stereotypical depiction of someone who is not of your race, you are exactly who I’m talking to.

Take Julianne Hough, the two-time champion of "Dancing with the Stars," for example. In 2013, she went as "Orange is the New Black" character, Crazy Eyes. It might not have been a problem except Hough is white and she dressed in black face.

The backlash Hough faced was intense and she apologized saying, “It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”

She gave the same basic apology every person who gets called when they have an offensive costume by trying to claim ignorance. She tried to say she didn’t know it was offensive.

Hough and everyone who wears a costume that could be seen as offensive should know better by now, especially with the history of blackface in American performing arts history.

Your costumes may not be as blatantly offensive, but we should be more conscience of our choices.

We shouldn’t still be having this conversation year after year.

If you are going out on Halloween, stop and think before you buy a costume.

Even for next Halloween, remember to be a little more thoughtful.