By Taylor Carrere
Updated: 7 hours ago
There will be a lot of different costumes on Franklin Street tonight — but some student groups are hoping to keep parodies of their culture out of the festivities.
Students from UNC-CH, East Carolina University and other schools across the country are looking to help students become more aware about the offense potentially caused by depicting cultural stereotypes in costume form.
ECU students are wrapping up a four-day event today called “I Am Not a Costume,” a campaign against racial stereotypes in Halloween celebrations.
Similar events are held around Halloween at colleges across the country.
Martrell Walker, president of ECU’s Black Student Union, said he first became concerned after seeing a woman dressed up for Halloween who had painted her face black and wore dreadlocks and sagging pants.
“I’m sure she didn’t think anything of it at the moment — she probably just thought of it as a joke,” he said. “That was the first thing that … thinking back on other cultures, made me realize that there are other cultures that can be affected by this.”
Christopher Womack, president of Epsilon Chi Nu, a Native American fraternity at ECU, said being respectful of cultures and understanding the impact of cultural portrayals are important for everyone.
“I think with Halloween coming up a lot of people dress up in racist costumes,” he said. “Either they do not know it is racist or do not care.”
Womack said he hoped the effort would educate people about the cultural insensitivity of the costumes before Halloween night.
UNC-CH students have also worked to promote cultural sensitivity on campus in advance of Halloween this year. The Carolina Indian Circle, a Native American group, held up signs in the Pit Tuesday and hosted a forum that night to raise awareness of cultural stereotypes on Halloween, focusing on Native American portrayals.
“I think we are also a campus community that is usually pretty politically correct,” said Katlin Roberts, a member of the group. “So it is surprising that people aren’t getting just as upset about red-face as they do blackface.”
Still, some UNC-CH students say wearing costumes with cultural themes for Halloween is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as people are sensitive.
“I think if you have good intentions it shouldn’t cause such an uproar,” said freshman Tiffany Rowell. “I have dressed up as an Indian before and didn’t think anything about it.
“As long as I am not showing any hatred towards or making fun of them in any type of way, I don’t see how I could be affecting them.”