Is YOUR Costume Racists?

Certain Halloween costumes are far too racist so we should all steer clear to ensure that we don’t offend others. In a New York Times article titled “Halloween Costume Correctness: Free to Be You, but Not Me”, author Kirk Johnson expresses that a multitude of Halloween costumes are unacceptable and racially insensitive. Johnson supports his claims by stating facts and using first hand accounts to give credibility to his stance.

Johnson starts off his article by making a statement about costume’s that are, in his words, “No no’s”. Kirk Johnson states “Pocahontas, Caitlyn Jenner and Poncho Villa are no-nos. Also off-limits are geisha girls and samurai warriors — even, some say, if the wearer is Japanese.” He then attempts to give a more acceptable alternative by mentioning, “Among acceptable options, innocuous ones lead the pack: a Crayola crayon, a cup of Starbucks coffee or the striped-cap-wearing protagonist of the “Where’s Waldo?” books.” He’s trying to relate to his audience using pathos. Johnson uses current and relative icons such as Caitlyn Jenner and Starbucks to connect with his audience whom are to be college age readers. Later on in his article he brings up another very current topic as one of his examples, Johnson states, “For example, dressing in drag can denigrate the struggles of gay and transgender people” once again talking about gender insensitive costumes. Then talking about how students in a fraternity dressed as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, which brings back up pop culture references that are once again relevant.

Using personal accounts and first hand advice given from students is another way Kirk Johnson uses pathos to be convinced of his argument that certain Halloween costumes are racist. This can be seen in the quotation, ““If there’s a gray line, it’s always best to stay away from it,” said Mitchell Chen, 21, a microbiology major and director of diversity efforts at the Associated Students of the University of Washington.” Giving the information about the students major and what college they attend makes Johnson’s article more tangible and relatable.

Again making an attempt to convince his readers about racist Halloween costumes Johnson links videos that students made in the past that are titled what not to do for Halloween. “The university emailed to all students this week a six-minute video of what not to do for Halloween.” Using pathos and ethos to give the viewer a glimpse into how racist Halloween costumes affect people. Jonson includes this statement, “At Duke University, the Center for Multicultural Affairs has filled its Facebook page with images of young people holding up pictures of offensive stereotypes, including white people in blackface and a man dressed as a suicide bomber, with the hash tag #OurCulturesAreNotCostumes.” Including the hash tag that the school created is also a wise decision on Johnson’s part because that makes the statement more youthful and can relate it back to our generation in the technological age.

Work Cited

Halloween Costume Correctness on Campus: Feel Free to Be You, but Not Me


OCT. 30, 2015

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