Before I go any further let me say I was not on campus this weekend to experience the University of Richmond Halloween or see any of the creative costumes put together by our "intellectual risk takers." Nonetheless, I would place a bet on there being a "risk taker," somewhere on this campus, that did dress up like a Mexican gangster, American Indian or terrorist (intended to be of Muslim descent). I've seen these impersonators dress up in sombreros, head dresses and black and white scarves before, so I know I am not making this up. Maybe it didn't happen this year at the Richmond, but I am sure as hell that it has happened before and will happen again. How do I know this? These costumes are convenient, cheap, funny, sold at Party City and, frankly, drinking up during Halloween with a bomb strapped to your chest makes for a good Facebook picture.
Mexican gangster, Muslim terrorist, American Indian and blackface are all great politically incorrect costumes. But why is blackface getting all of the attention? The answer is obvious but confusing. The African American history has been one of the injustices and prejudices that our nation will forever be held accountable. We have abolished slavery. We have reworked our founding documents. We have marched on Washington. But racism still exists. A blackface draws attention during Halloween because we have fought so hard to remove racism, yet it still shows its face (no pun intended) from time to time.
So what's the confusing part? Native Americans, Mexican Americans and now Muslim Americans face the same problems our nation has tried so hard to remedy. We have done our best to eradicate Native Americans and placed the remaining populations on reservations. All Latinos are classified as Mexican gangsters or tequila-drinking borrachos. We grab up and question Muslim Americans under our reworked laws. So when a student dresses up as a dirty Mexican, Muslim terrorist or face-painted Indian, why is there no action? Why don't people report the Indian running around the UFAs at approximately 1 a.m.? Why don't people question the morals of the dirty Mexican binging on tequila in the back room? Why is the sober terrorist set free during the RA's underage drinking write-up?
Don't take this as a call to African Americans to lighten up about racism or as a call to arms against all Indian impersonators during Halloween. This is just a critique of how ridiculous and biased our culture's interpretation of racism has become. It's OK to violate one race's values, but the violation of another's prompts a university wide e-mail. I'm sorry, did I miss something?!
I ask you, risk-taking intellectuals, what do we want? Do we want a campus that prevents dressing up during Halloween, one that turns a blind eye to politically incorrect outfits or a hypocritical approach to the situation at hand? Again I ask you intellectuals what is racism? Is it racist when we cater to the Africans and not the Latinos, Indians or Muslims? Is it racist to put minorities before majorities? Is it racist when President Ayers addresses only one impersonated group? What is racism? I'll let you decide:
Racism: belief that certain races of people are by birth and nature superior to others.
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