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Are we too easily offended by Halloween costumes?

Is dressing up as a Geisha for Halloween culturally insensitive?
Is dressing up as a Geisha for Halloween culturally insensitive?

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It’s not uncommon during Halloween for people to dress up like a Geisha, a Mexican in a mariachi suit, or  like a redneck. But for some people, these costumes are just promoting stereotypes and are offensive.

Students from the Ohio University have started a campaign: “We’re a culture, not a costume.” This campaign is aimed at promoting awareness against racial stereotypes, and instead promoting dialogue. In the ad campaign different students hold a photo of an ethnic stereotype costume.

For example, a Muslim student holds a photo of a white person dressed up in a traditional ghutra with bombs strapped to his chest. The images from the campaign have been making their rounds online igniting the ongoing debate of how far is too far with Halloween costumes.

It is offensive to wear a costume from a different race or culture? How do you draw the line?


John Lin, senior contributor for, an online publication focusing on issues that affect the Asian American and Asian Canadian communities

Ruth Hopkins, founding writer of, columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network. She is also chief judge for Spirit Lake Tribal Court in North Dakota