Northwestern University’s Dean Burgwell J. Howard has sent an e-mail to students warning that there will be no blackface costumes this year, particularly after photos of students donning blackface and offensive costumes surfaced last Halloween. The e-mail was also signed by other student leaders and actually informed students why blackface is a horrible, racist practice. Dean Howard also cautions students against being insensitive and culturally unaware. He asks students to think about the following before deciding on a costume:
• Wearing a funny costume? Is the humor based on “making fun” of real people, human traits or cultures?
• Wearing a historical costume? If this costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural inaccuracies?
• Wearing a “cultural” costume? Does this costume reduce cultural differences to jokes or stereotypes?
• Could someone take offense with your costume, and why?
It is sad that students have to be reminded of cultural awareness and sensitivity. Luckily, someone is educating students about being mindful and thoughtful of other people’s feelings and experiences — something that parents and previous educators have obviously failed to do.
Read more at Gawker.