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I remember when I was a kid, the biggest annual Halloween controversy was whether or not your neighbors were secret serial killers putting razor blades into your candy. Those were the good old days. Now Halloween controversy tends to center around racial shouting matches about what’s insensitive, who is oversensitive, and who might as well be a cul-de-sac Klan member. Listening to all of it, year after year, makes me feel like my brain is swallowing razor blades. Somehow, the thousands of metaphorical razorblades actually seem worse to me than swallowing a real one, though maybe that’s just because I’ve downed so much antifreeze-laced Fireball that my insides are already dead.
Are there racist costumes? Absolutely. The only time I ever recommend putting on blackface is if you’re being stalked by a Predator. And even then, Arnold waited until all the black guys were gone to do it.
However, like offensive costumes, overreactions and misguided attempts at “justice” abound during the Halloween season. Furthermore, there is absolutely no doubt that groups keep an eye open for any opportunity to pounce and call the people they deem as offenders out, hoping to publicly embarrass them while grabbing a little spotlight for their group and cause.
It should be noted that I have no problem with the public shaming of the stupid, especially the stupid who are public with their stupidity. Oh what I would give to throw tomatoes at some guy in a public stockade for peeing at a playground in broad daylight. There is, however, certainly an eagerness on the side of the “offended” to be seen — seen as righteous, seen as defenders, seen as victims, or, maybe, just to be seen at all, because attention is fun! That eagerness can lead to some misplays, which you will see below, which end up only being a detriment to their goals. My point is, everyone has a right to their opinion, and I have no problem with people expressing offense or outrage (even if it’s annoying to me personally), but it is unwise and insincere to be outright seeking things to react to, like so many people do. Proactivity would be to do your best to educate the campus on whatever issues are upsetting to you before the issues arise (and maybe the people in question here specifically did that as well, I don’t know), not searching for things to be outraged at and react to. That just perpetuates all this bullshit and takes me back to wishing I was swallowing razorblades instead of listening to that crap.
The video below, from the University of Arizona’s MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan) chapter, shows at least two members confronting a member of the school’s Tri Delt chapter on her own front porch about an offensive costume they witnessed one of their members wearing. The whole thing is pretty dumb, though refreshingly civil on both sides, at least.
Turns out, the Tri Delt wearing an “offensive” mariachi costume is actually 1) Latina (not that that matters to the MEChA members because “She doesn’t speak for all Latinos! We do, dammit!” and 2) a member of a mariachi band. I really hope that stung, because it’s pretty clear that MEChA was seeking this type of confrontation out. This is pure speculation, obviously, but it feels safe to assume that members of this group were told to keep an eye out for potentially offensive costumes worn by fraternity and sorority members, and to be prepared to move on it. That’s bullshit. That’s the attention seeking bullshit I hate, that you should hate, and that everyone should discourage as much as the racist costumes themselves.
My favorite part was when the woman off camera says to the poor Tri Delt who was trying to calmly appease the MEChA members and explain what was actually going on that, “That’s not what I saw,” right after the Tri Delt explained that what they had seen was out of context and they weren’t fully informed about the situation. Yeah, no shit that isn’t what you saw, BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE SEEING. But whatever, fuck it, right?
The confrontation was more important than the truth to these two. Unfortunately, that’s the lesson a lot of young activists have mistakenly learned thanks to society’s general boner for sensationalism: to seek out things to be angry at, and that drawing attention to your message is as important as the message itself. That’s true of the left and the right, basically regardless of the issue. And, once again, it makes me want to swallow razorblades.
Good on the Tri Delt for handling herself so well in what could have turned into a really bad situation, and all while dressed like a cat. That’s poise..