Dear “Student Organization,”
Damn. I know that you might think the reaction to your racist and insensitive picture has been “over the top” but consider this: our current political climate.
Also consider this: being a decent group of young white guys and not being so blatantly racist. You’re not really helping the image of, let’s say, I don’t know — Greek life on this campus. Greek life (hypothetically speaking, of course) has been in hot water in this country for years!
For the perceived lack of diversity, for issues with sexual assault and hazing.
The stunt like the one you pulled is ripping the progress other Greek members are trying to achieve. When I (a humble, brown, non-Greek lesbian) saw your picture on Instagram — and I am saying “your” because, well, it was posted by a heap of your members — I have to admit #chologang was a bit of a red flag.
Sure, you didn’t go the whole nine yards and paint your faces brown, but throwing “gang signs” with magic marker tattoos? Meijer-bought bandanas? Y’all on some kind of budget? And using the bit of Spanish found on the internet — “vato” — the whole picture seemed pretty clear what stereotype you wanted to go as for Halloween.
I think the main thing that got to me the most was your caption, “Your culture is MY costume.” This is clearly responding to the hashtag “my culture isn’t your costume” campaign, which speaks out against exactly the racial insensitivity on Halloween that your post shows. This indicates that this is more than some accident. You know about the efforts of people of color trying not to be simplified as a stereotype on Halloween and every other day of the year.
Across America, racial insensitivity on a college campus isn’t unheard of, but the fact that you knew what you were responding to and posted it on a PUBLIC account is more than messy. It’s a bit f***** up.
Now, I’m not writing this to hurt you. I’m writing this to warn you about yourselves and your racist ignorance. Dressing up as these stereotypes can harm Latinx people because, as you read this, Mexicans are being called rapists and drug dealers by our government.
Latinx asylum seekers are being detained by our border guards, having their children taken and stashed in prison cells, alone and traumatized. Now, I know you didn’t even think about politics when you put on the costumes. I know you’ll probably think “that’s not what we did” but you don’t really get a say in this. You didn’t think about actual people. You played into a stereotype that has been used, politically, to destroy families and to hurt innocent children. That’s all on you.
This is more like an urgent plea, not to just say “do not do this again” but to look at yourselves! Ask the members in your organization what they stand for. If their values don’t line up with your constitution or the values of this university or the values that seek to uplift people of color, then maybe it’s best for you to do some soul-searching.
Parties are fun and all, but fun is not meant to last forever and some communities (even on this campus) are genuinely terrified of the violence that has been steadily amplifying in this country over the last nine years. If you’re tired of being reported to the University then identify what you are numb to. Instead of saying “we’re not racist” start by saying “we don’t want to be racist.”
Listen to what our communities think of you before more people of color suffer the consequences which stem from the type of ignorance you have exemplified.
If anything is a costume, it’s your willful racism. You can choose to take that off at any time.