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Halloween easily makes my top three favourite times of the year. Being a student during late October is a fantastical time when the student body seems to come together in a show of mutual admiration for costume-wearing, alcohol consumption and pagan rituals (not so much for the last one).
And typically, I have a great time getting into the spirit of Halloween. That is, right up until someone decides it would be absolutely hilarious to mock the culture of my or anyone else’s ancestor’s via inappropriate and offensive costume.
I was scrolling through Facebook the other day when I decided to open the “Free & For Sale — Clothes” group operated under the McMaster Facebook community, one that requires all members have an authorized “@mcmaster.ca” email. Most people were listing their gently used denim and more than gently used footwear, and then I saw it: an ad selling used Halloween costumes, posted by a student, with the most “liked” costume being “Rasta Mon,” a grotesque mask portraying what is supposed to be a Jamaican man (blackface, anyone?), complete with a Jamaican flag beanie and dreads, and a marijuana leaf necklace. Students were commenting on the post, tagging their friends in it, making claims like “this is exactly what we’ve been looking for!” No. Just, no.
Two years ago, The Silhouette confronted the university’s Campus Store about their ridiculous stock of culturally offensive Halloween costumes. Like clockwork, this issue has returned, and this time at the fault of the student body as opposed to the university.
How long will it take for people to realize that a culture is not a costume? Not only should you not be dressing in this manner, but you should definitely not be posting about it in groups affiliated with your university. I’ve said this multiple times, and I’m going to say it again — McMaster is a school that prides itself in its diversity. It celebrates and welcomes all its students, yet for some warped reason, our student body still fails to see the issue with this trend. What are we doing wrong? At what point should we be educating our students about these issues? Is the university responsible for educating students beyond the classroom? Is our university failing to provide its students with a social education?
As much as it seems like Halloween seems to bring our student body together, how together can we be if our dress and trends still other those around us?