Tag Archives: stigmas

Racism at Halloween

24 Oct

I am appalled that this needs to be explained, but taking a stereotype of a different culture or race and then dressing up as it for Halloween or a party is unacceptable. It is racist.

I saw this post on Buzzfeed the other day about a woman in Australia who had an “African” themed party – and her guests came dressed as animals, in “tribal” prints and in blackface – someone even came as a KKK member! Then the host posted an “apology” on Tumblr, saying that ” this was to celebrate the amazing country and people.”

After I got over my incredulity at all the glaring racism, I wanted to scream (for the second time this week) “Africa is NOT a country!” My Facebook friend posted a great link to her page the other day, about a campaign students in Ohio were running. The campaign We’re a Culture, not a Costume was run in 2011 with the tagline “This is NOT who I am, and this is NOT okay,” and in 2012 with the tagline “You wear the costume for ONE night, I wear the stigma for LIFE.” Each poster features the picture of a student as well as a picture of someone dressed as a stereotype from their culture or race.

It is a brilliant and powerful campaign, that is obviously necessary, because below is the thread of comments on my friend’s page. Pay special attention to the comments made by Red (I have colour-blocked everyone’s pictures and names for their privacy).

FacebookRacism

I honestly can’t believe the level of racism and ignorance that still exists in our society. It is abhorrent and unacceptable.

With Halloween approaching, I ask all my friends, family and readers to think about the costumes you wear, to call others out for the behaviour, and to spread the message of We’re a Culture, Not a Costume.

Stigmas Against Breastfeeding in Public

17 May

Throughout my time in Botswana, I saw and experienced many stigmas, including surrounding breastfeeding. It was expected that all new mothers should breastfeed and that if she did not breastfeed it was assumed that she was HIV-positive. Therefore, mothers would proudly breastfeed wherever she was – at a shop, on the bus, or at a restaurant. 

In Canada, we still have the expectation that all mothers should breastfeed. However, it is stigmatized whenever a woman does it in public. I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool and since it is legal in Ontario for a woman to be topless (regardless of if she is breastfeeding), we could not ask a woman to not breastfeed. But, if another customer complains about it, then we were instructed to tell the breastfeeding mother that she was making others uncomfortable. I have heard similar stories of this happening in many public areas.

So while society expects women to breastfeed, women are shamed for doing it publicly. They are expected to breastfeed – but only in private or with a scarf or blanket covering their breast.

Why does this stigma exist?

Please read the rest of this post, originally published on the International Women’s Initiative Survivors’ Blog