NBC’s Megyn Kelly got herself in the middle of a firestorm of political correctness and racist remarks, and remains in the center of controversy after she defended blackface Halloween costumes on-air.
As someone with a powerful and wide-reaching voice, Kelly should be more conscious about what she says and should have been more culturally sensitive to a diverse viewership.
As cliche as it sounds, the message she should have been preaching is that it’s important to remember to be politically and culturally appropriate when dressing up for Halloween.
The reason for this policy should be simple: costume ideas can come off as culturally, politically or socially offensive to some people, and Halloween should never make people insecure or uncomfortable about parts of their identities.
While the whole point of Halloween is to dress up as something or someone that you’re not in your everyday life, we must remember to be sensitive to cultures, genders, identities and religions.
If you’re planning to dress up as a character who looks different than you, one option is to wear the outfit without changing your physical appearance. We shouldn’t change the way we look just to assume the role of a particular character for a night out.
As a general rule, if you have to question the legitimacy of wearing something offensive, it’s probably best not to be it. With a million costume ideas out there, it can’t hurt to change plans to avoid being culturally insensitive.
These standards apply to those who are mean well, but haven’t necessarily thought about the implications of their costume. Mistakes happen, and as we tighten cultural standards, there will always be learning moments.
However, there is also a category of situations in which people will get a rise out of seeing an offensive or politically incorrect costume. They’ll dress up offensively because their extremity and violation of the culture of political correctness is satisfying to them — they crave the shock value.
Halloween fits right into this narrative because people use it as a free pass to do whatever they want. After all, it’s a holiday.
Not only is this practice dangerous, as it sets a terrible example for peers, but it’s also a petty way of trying to get satisfaction at the expense of others. As a community, we need to do our part to hold each other accountable by pointing out offensive costumes and holding strong against those who are purposefully being offensive to get a reaction.
As of right now, Lehigh does not boast the title of the most inclusive campus. We’ve seen racist messages spray painted on dorms and anti-gay harassment, as well as a clear lack of diversity on campus. There are also clear divides between Greek life, non-Greek life and student-athlete communities.
In Lehigh’s future in particular, the stakes are being raised as we become a more international campus. Halloween isn’t going to be the only time of year we need to observe these themes, it’ll need to become constant.
Anyone who attends Lehigh should feel as though they are entering a welcoming and open community that embraces our collective differences. Habits like these are necessary for life outside of Lehigh, too.
While Halloween is a fun and different holiday from others we celebrate in the United States, we should always strive to be sensitive to each other’s differences.