Our view: It’s not who they are, but it is OK

DKS Editors

An Ohio University student organization recently put up posters around its campus discouraging students from targeting certain cultures as they don their Halloween garb this weekend.

The posters display students from different ethnicities holding up photos of costumes they believe are offensive to their culture. Two statements are on each poster: “We’re a culture, not a costume,” and, “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”

“We just wanted to say, ‘Hey, this is not cool,’” the group’s president told ABC News. “’This is offensive, and this shouldn’t be taken lightly,’”

But that’s just it — most costumes should be taken lightly.

The campaign seems to be catering to an overly sensitive and paranoid crowd.

Halloween is really not about using costumes to single out a culture and laugh at its customs; it’s about becoming someone or something else for a day. Why does a girl dressed as a geisha have to mean she is mocking Japanese culture?

And the statements on the posters really don’t translate. A person wearing a fake mustache and a sombrero probably doesn’t think that all Hispanics grow mustaches and wear sombreros. That costume is not a declaration about the culture as a whole, though it may say something about that particular person’s ability to come up with something creative on Halloween.

There’s certainly a difference between satire and stereotypes in this case, and of course, it’s a fine line. One of the posters shows a girl in blackface, wearing a gold chain — this is obviously crossing the line.

But Halloween costumes aren’t political statements, and they certainly aren’t meant to be taken seriously. That’s the idea behind Halloween, especially in a town filled with college students.