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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC Students Split On Halloween Diversity Debate

Some say popular Halloween costumes display racial stereotypes.

Students, adults, and celebrities use Halloween costumes to express themselves, yet many take advantage of the whimsical holiday in politically incorrect ways.

Each year, post-Halloween news media contains countless headlines regarding racially offensive costumes that were worn the night before.

Many celebrities, public figures and average Americans have taken Halloween as an opportunity to dress in blackface, or to appropriate Latino, Native American, Middle Eastern and Asian stereotypes.

In hopes of negating racial misappropriation this weekend, the Halloween diversity debate has begun to enter the conversation on USC’s campus.

The Current’s Brittany Hope and Drew Jackson took to campus to see where students stand on the issue.

When shown photos of a man dressed up in blackface as Aunt Jemima, reactions were mixed. One student, an African American male, was unaware of what blackface was, while two other male students agreed that the outfit was unacceptable.

When shown a photo of a man wearing sunglasses dressed as a Middle Eastern, some students believed the image was extremely racist, while others seemed to be unaffected by the costume.

Finally, when shown a photo of a "sexy" Native American woman costume, students seemed morally split. They hesitated before finally concluding that the costume was offensive.

USC student Amri Rigby made a point to argue that this is a nationwide issue, not just a university issue. He was open regarding his frustration with racially offensive Halloween costumes, and stated, “They say they think it’s funny. While most aren’t being deliberately racist, they are being subtly racist.”

American Studies major MJ Plascencia reminded her peers to “check [their] privilege, and check [their] ignorance.”

As Halloween is three days away, USC students are encouraged to take a second look at their costumes before they attend Halloween festivities.

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