Ohio University has a well-known reputation for having one of the largest Halloween celebrations in the United States, and yes, the pressure of a perfect costume is oh so real. Every year around this time, I scramble to come up with a costume that’s original and entertaining.
As I browsed the web last week for ideas, I came across a list, posted by US Weekly, of celebrity Halloween costumes from 2012. On the list was a horrifying and disheartening picture of Chris Brown and his friends posing as “Arabs”. The R&B singer is notorious for his violent behavior, and once again, had tainted his image with this discriminating photo:
(Chris Brown in center)
In a radio interview Brown commented on the backlash he received from the outfit, nearly yelling into the microphone, “It’s nobody’s mother—-ing business and everybody who’s really mad about it, “F— y’all.”
If you aren’t shaking your head in disgust yet, he also stated, “I was dressed as the people we killed” in his attempt to justify the costume.
Now I could rant forever (no pun intended) about my hatred for Chris Brown and his ignorant comments, but the truth is, this occurrence is not just another publicity stunt, but an issue that runs much deeper. Sadly, his abusive photo is only one of many posted by American’s wearing similar costumes on Halloween.
If I am to be honest, I have heard of people dressing up in offensive costumes before, but thought little about the negative impact it had on others. Now that I have begun to study the religion of Islam and the Middle East, I find these “terrorist” costumes to be less than funny and beyond disgusting.
Some may not think twice about racist costumes, and others may claim that they are all in good fun and shouldn’t be taken seriously, but, the damaging effects of these costumes are catastrophic, contributing to violent and prejudice acts against Muslims in the U.S.
A 2012 article by The Journal of Muslim Mental Health posted a study that reported a 1,700 percent increase of hate crimes against Muslims post 9/11. This statistic exemplifies the seriousness of what may seem as petty as a costume.
These costumes depict Arabs as violent terrorists who casually carry weapons with intentions of killing white Americans. Muslims are not costumes, and most certainly are not terrorists. They should never be defined as such, under any circumstance, which includes “just for fun”. Discrimination and prejudice is not a lighthearted topic in any situation, even on a holiday like Halloween.
In 2011, before Brown’s distasteful display, a few Ohio University students created a campaign to end these costumes and others of its kind. The student org, Students Teaching About Racism in Society, posted flyers to communicate the severity of racist costumes on Halloween. The group received a lot of negative backfire.
What to me is an obvious atrocity has become a controversy on the Internet and social media. My opposers would say my message is too sensitive, and over dramatizing what’s meant to be just a comical display.
What do you think? Do you believe these costumes are simply costumes and should be taken as such? Or, do you feel they contribute to racial oppression?