With Halloween rapidly approaching, I guess it was only a matter of time until schools started warning their students which costumes are offensive.
Valdosta looks like it may take the cake for this one, though; in additin to warning students against wearing “Indian” and “Geisha” costumes, the school instructed students to not wear “ghetto” or “Hillbilly” costumes because they might reinforce classism.
Yeah, I know, another “-ism.” Anyway, the story can be found below…
Valdosta State University has come up with a new category of costume for students to avoid this Halloween, warning against dressing up in “ghetto” and “hillbilly” guises.
Alongside the familiar admonitions against costumes that could in any way be considered racist, sexist, or xenophobic, Valdosta’s Housing and Residence Life department declared in a recent email to the student body—shared with Campus Reform by an exasperated recipient—that they should also avoid “reinforcing classism” with their choice of costume.
“Even if you do not celebrate Halloween, wearing costumes and dressing as someone different than oneself can be fun and playful,” the email begins. “Some costumes, however, can be more harmful than playful, and impact the community in negative ways.”
Costumes that “reinforce negative representations of cultures and groups … take power away from individuals who are a part of those groups by objectifying them, while also not honoring the diversity that exists in their communities,” Residence Life explains.
To assist students in identifying potentially problematic costumes, presumably so they can avoid wearing them, the email offers several examples of outfits that might be considered offensive.
Among the get-ups that Valdosta worries have the potential to reinforce racism, for instance, are “Indian” and “Geisha” costumes, “items that have specific cultural associations and significance (such as bindis and sombreros),” and of course anything involving “blackface, redface, or yellowface.”
Valdosta also wants students to avoid “reinforcing prejudices and fears,” and so cautions them against “wearing costumes that make light of domestic violence, sexual assault, sex work, or matters concerning the LGBTQ community” (out, presumably, would be any outfit advertised as “sexy” or “slutty”).
Finally, the email states that “dressing as ‘ghetto,’ ‘hillbilly,’ associated or similar groups, etc.” is likewise discouraged, because those ensembles might reinforce classism.
The email asserts that costumes such as the ones it lists “remove opportunities to have meaningful conversations about the daily experiences of individuals who identify with those groups.”
One parent, upon receiving a forwarded version of the email, was actually disgusted enough to email the school in response, a copy of which she shared with Campus Reform.
“How in the world will these ‘poor little flowers’ ever be able to function once they get out into the real world?” Tracey Gregory wrote. “Can we please get over ‘being offended’?
“I pay a lot of money for my child to go to VSU and this is ridiculous,” she continued, remarking, “I thought a university was a place for open debate and expression.”
Campus Reform is currently awaiting a statement from Valdosta, and will update this story with the university’s comments once they have been received.
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