As we enter the Halloween season, multiple organizations, communities and individuals have sent out reminders via social media to not dress up in culturally or racially insensitive costumes. However, these statements have been met with ridicule and opposition from the Ithaca College Republicans in what appears to be an attempt to undermine “political correctness.” In its statements, the organization claims that not being allowed to appropriate a culture is taking the fun out of, and ultimately “killing,” Halloween.
While these statements could just be IC Republicans’ way to “own the libs,” we cannot ignore that its sentiments exude a gross display of ignorance, signifying that the club is more concerned about white people being able to dress up as a person of color than people of color being rightfully offended. For years, Asian, South American, Native American and many other cultures have voiced their discontent with the costumes that depict their cultures as a single caricature of a stereotype. When an entire community says it feels oppressed and uncomfortable, it is not up to the oppressors to decide whether that is true or not.
This is hardly IC Republicans’ first incident of racial insensitivity, and indicates a disturbing lack of growth or understanding from the organization. In early September, the organization tweeted about the murder of Mollie Tibbetts in a statement that employed racist rhetoric by generalizing about all undocumented immigrants being violent criminals. The organization has since apologized for the tweet — 20 days after the initial statement — but has not taken it down from its Twitter page.
To see these types of statements issued by what is supposed to be a conservative political voice on our traditionally liberal campus is disappointing. Political and intellectual diversity does not have to include racial insensitivity; however, IC Republicans seems to be incapable of making this distinction. Instead of prompting genuine, in-depth political debate, the organization continues to provoke members of our campus community and frame itself as an unwelcoming space for people of color. This undermines the organization’s reputation, making it a place only for white neo-conservatives as opposed to the large number of identities the Republican party has the potential to encompass and serve.
Moving forward, IC Republicans should introspectively examine itself and consider what messages it wants to send to our community and what discussions it wants to have, and whether or not it is accomplishing that. The organization should also consider what individuals and communities they are ostracizing or excluding through their statements, and if that is their true intention.