Things That Matter

Students From Northern Arizona University Have Gone Viral For Their Wildly Offensive Halloween Costumes

Halloween is that time of year when adults are able to shed their inhibitions and experience the same costumed fun and excitement they did as kids. Unfortunately, some take this holiday to inappropriate and hurtful places with their costumes. It seems that no matter how much attention is brought to this problem, we inevitably experience it year after year. Rather than go as their favorite fictional character, we see far too many people dressed in customs that promote cultural appropriation or that are inspired by offensive jokes.

Sure enough, before Halloween was even over, Twitter exposed one instance of this disappointing costume trend.

Twitter / @groovyk8

On October 29th, Katie Stiff shared a set of pictures on her personal Twitter account that she saw on Instagram. The photos show a group of five young adults dressed in scruffy clothing and dirty faces, carrying various signs. One such sign reads, “Immigrant mother of 10 ⁠— anything helps!” The others advertise a pregnant 16-year-old, a veteran with cancer, a college drop out and a recovering alcoholic. It’s clear from their costumes and the content of their cardboard signs that the group is dressed up as negative portrayals of homeless people. 

The offensive photos originated from the account of a freshman student at Northern Arizona University. Stiff, who is a recent graduate of the university, saw the post on October 28th. According to an interview with the Phoenix News Times, she first thought that the costumes were a form of protest — a commentary on how society views marginalized and low-income people. 

Stiff reached out to the person responsible for originally posting these pictures and asked what the meaning behind their costumes was.

Twitter / @lilythetigerr

In screenshots provided to the Phoenix News Times, the NAU freshman responded to Stiff’s inquiry by saying that the controversial looks were “actually just last-minute costumes for a party.” Hoping to facilitate a conversation, Stiff responded to the comment, “Yikes…I’m sure harm wasn’t your intention, but I would definitely reflect on how this could present as a lack of regard for human suffering.”

When Stiff didn’t receive further comment from the college freshman or any of the other adults tagged in the pictures, she decided to take the images to Twitter. 

Twitter/ @Tuesday_elias

Though Stiff’s Twitter account only had about 100 followers at the time, the post quickly went viral. It now has nearly 8K retweets and 17K likes. Speaking to the Phoenix News Times, Stiff explained why she feels costumes like these are so hurtful and offensive to so many. 

“It’s the collective outrage,” she shared. “It was hard to see how hurt people were by it and see comments like ‘this made me cry,’ or ‘this made me sick to my stomach.’ I thought by 2019 we’d be to the point where people weren’t wearing offensive costumes like this. Wearing these things that inherently target underprivileged people, veterans, immigrants, young mothers, it’s not okay. It’s not just a costume. It’s a statement.”

Twitter had several issues with the costumes and was quick to voice them.

Twitter / @Cartersmommi_

Many comments pointed out that it typically isn’t immigrants who are seen panhandling or begging for money. While there’s no shame in these actions, they are very looked down upon. Traditionally, immigrants hustle to find employment ⁠— working several jobs at a time ⁠— both providing for their families and helping to dismantle the negative stigma around migrants. 

Others expressed that these costumes could have worked ⁠— had they actually been meant as a type of protest. 

Twitter / @Bary_d19

This tweet suggested that the group should have collected money instead of candy and donated the funds to a local shelter or another worthy cause. Had these costumes been a form of protest, they would have made a powerful statement. Immigrants, veterans, college students, young mothers and those with chronic diseases are all marginalized groups that are condemned for supposedly not adding value to our society. Bringing attention to that via their costumes would have granted them props. Instead, the group thought it was clever to support stereotypes at the expense of others. 

It didn’t take long for Northern Arizona University to issue a statement concerning these costumes and the viral response to them. 

Twitter / @NAU

NAU President, Rita Cheng, responded to Stiff’s initial post by issuing a comment on the nature of the costumes. 

“The recent post by NAU students has been taken seriously,” she tweeted. “We involved the Dean of Students & Office of Inclusion. The students recognize the seriousness of their actions & apologized. NAU values & supports free speech. Speech demeaning to others does not represent our values.”

The official NAU Twitter account retweeted Cheng’s statement and double-downed on their commitment to free speech but not speech that is demeaning and disrespectful. 

As of now, it doesn’t seem that the students will be held responsible by the school for their offensive costuming. Be that as it may, it’s still our responsibility to call out racism and classism where we see it. If major institutions won’t punish this behavior, social media shaming is the best way to continue the conversation.

Halloween Horror Nights Canceled For The First Time In 30 Years Thanks To Covid

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Halloween Horror Nights Canceled For The First Time In 30 Years Thanks To Covid

Octavian Cantilli / Universal Orlando Resort via Getty Images

Halloween Horror Nights, a Universal Studios staple, is not happening this year and there is only one thing to blame: Covid. The virus, which is still spread wildly in the U.S., has forced so many things to be canceled. People are not happy with the decision.

For the first time in 30 years, Halloween Horror Nights is not happening.

Halloween Horror Nights is one of the biggest events of the year at Universal Studios in Florida and California. The sudden (and not surprising) cancelation is a devastating announcement for the fans of spooky culture.

Honestly, people are ready to throw their tantrums over this.

Florida and California, home to both Universal Studios, are dealing with major Covid outbreaks. California had an explosion of Covid cases that forced the state to reverse some of its rapid reopenings. Florida is another state dealing with a major Covid outbreak that has forced some places to reclose as Disney pushes forward with the reopening.

There’s a lot of pain out there right now.

It really is another blow in a very devastating year. So many people hoped that Halloween would still happen yet the patchwork response we’ve had against the virus isn’t helping. The loss of a Halloween tradition is just too painful right now but we will be alright.

All we can do now is wait “patiently” for Halloween 2021…

All it took was wearing masks and social distancing to avoid this yet, here we are. Remember to take care of yourself, your health, and your community. This means wearing masks and social distancing to protect each other.

READ: Republican Senator Blames Latino Community For Disproportionate COVID Case Numbers

JetBlue Issued An Official Apology After One Employee In Florida Dressed Up As A Hurricane Maria Victim

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JetBlue Issued An Official Apology After One Employee In Florida Dressed Up As A Hurricane Maria Victim

@nats248 / Twitter

Every Halloween, we have the misfortune of reporting on how white people still don’t understand that culture, poverty, and other races are not costumes. JetBlue has recently issued an apology after one of its employees at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport showed up to work in a homeless Hurricane Maria refugee for Halloween. With tattered hair, makeup smeared across her face, and ripped disheveled clothing, the woman carried a cup for change and an offensive sign. It read, “Homeless, Need help trying to get back home to Puerto Rico or Cuba.”

According to one Twitter user, the costume “sparked controversy” at the airport, offending both employees and travelers alike. The Twitter user decided to take to the Internet to gather public opinion, tweeting, “This was the costume of a JetBlue employee at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I want to read your opinions.” Needless to say, the employee has been adequately roasted by Latinos everywhere, JetBlue has issued an apology, and has told NBC News that “the situation was immediately addressed.” 

Immediately, people took offense to the idea of dressing up as a Hurricane Maria refugee.

Credit: @nats248 / Twitter

“It seems fatal to me. It doesn’t matter if she didn’t say Cuba or Puerto Rico,” one offended Twitter user said in Spanish. She went on to say, “Many people don’t care about the homeless because they think they “asked for it,” but that is the sad reality of life. So many don’t care or respect the pain or difficulties of others.” Another Latino commented, “This IS offensive. Not because the name of my country is there, that only reflects their ignorance. But the issue of being homeless is too delicate and it is not funny at all to not have a roof, food, or clean clothes … but that’s just me.”

Meanwhile, Florida has become a hub for displaced Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria decimated the island.

Credit: @nats248 / Twitter

One woman took offense to the degrading imitation of the immigrants “who created and are the basis of this country.” Another woman suggested that the staff be given some sensitivity training regarding the community they serve, actual Cubans and Puerto Ricans. “Not sure if they know but thousands of people lost everything due to Hurricane Maria,” tweeted another dissenter. “For this JetBlue employee to think it’s OK to joke about the epidemic of homelessness in Puerto Rico and the U.S. is sickening and completely unacceptable. That’s NO JOKE.”

Another Latina was absolutely incredulous that a JetBlue employee actually “showed up to work in this racist and highly offensive ‘costume.’ People’s hardship and suffering should not be mocked like this.”

Then, the Twitter trolls infiltrated, calling Latinos “snowflakes” and “virtue signalers” for taking offense at the costume.

Credit: @dhock47 / @greciamaria / Twitter

We’ll spare you some of the more pointedly racist remarks. One user defended the costume, wondering out loud to a group of Latinos if, “maybe she couldn’t afford an expensive store bought costume, so she used what she had.” She went on to say, “I was a gypsy practically every year growing up, I’m sure that’s offensive too these days!” ????????????

Someone else jokingly pointed out that the costume is a fail because there is zero bandera pride. ????????????????

Credit: @ElGeorgeRiveraR / Twitter

“It grates me because a true homeless Boricua would have the flag, even if it was painted on their teeth,” tweeted Mr. Rivera. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York reported that more than 135,000 Puerto Ricans fled the island for the mainland United States within six months after Hurricane Maria made landfall. Nearly 57,000 of them moved to Florida. Puerto Rican homelessness is no laughing matter. Hurricane Maria made significant, generational impacts on Puerto Ricans. Whether the JetBlue employee decided to take on that traumatic event as a weak pander to vacation on the Caribbean island, or if she truly was so ignorant that we cannot find reason for her costume, commenting Latinos are largely “furious.”

Others are demanding that JetBlue actually “leave her jobless to find the joke in her ‘costume.'”

Credit: @dominopr777 / Twitter

“Shame on @JetBlue and their management for not sending this employee home as soon as they saw this highly inappropriate & insensitive ‘costume’. SHAME!,” commented one user. Jetblue has not responded to the tweet that set the public roasting in motion. Jetblue’s manager of corporate communications, Derek Dombrowski, emailed NBC News to issue an apology: “In the spirit of Halloween, our crew members are welcome to celebrate in costume, but one crew member chose a costume that was clearly insensitive and not in line with our costume policy. The situation was immediately addressed, and we apologize to anyone who was offended.”

While JetBlue has apologized for the offense, folks still want to know how the employee was “immediately addressed.”

READ: This Latina’s Chanclazo Costume Has Us All Terrified And Really Made Halloween A Time To Remember