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People dressed in Halloween costumes attend the Halloween celebration in a night club in Moscow, Russia, early Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

This university will hold a voluntary session to see if any Hollywood costumes are racist


Every Halloween we deal with costumes that, intentionally or not, offend someone.

Often, the costumes that are deemed racist turn a race or culture into a costume.

We deal with costumes that are called sexist, too. 

Lebanese children decorate pumpkins during a party to celebrate Halloween in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Richard Breaux, an ethnic and racial studies assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, is holding a panel on Oct. 5 that asks, "Is Your Halloween Costume Racist?" 

Not everyone is happy about it. 

Some sites are saying costumes must be approved, based on a flier on the UW campus. 

But, Breaux said, that simply isn't true.

 "Students have freedom of speech and freedom of expression rights," he said. "Nobody is dictating to anyone what is appropriate. It is simply an opportunity for students to learn about some do's and don'ts."

Breaux said he didn't know how the rumor that costumes needed to be approved got started. 

It's about trying to inform students so they don't make mistakes that get them in trouble.
Richard Breaux, assistant professor at UW

Breaux said he hopes to inform students so they don't make choices or wear costumes that, in the age of social media, could come back to haunt them. 

Breaux said that to avoid choosing a costume that might be offensive or inappropriate, students should considered the historical context of different costumes (say, for example, a Nazi soldier) and the political and socio-political implications (like a KKK-member, for example). 

"We're trying to be proactive, we're trying to be mindful of giving our students the tools they need to navigate our world as it's changing," he said. 

Well said.

The bottom line? Be sensitive. In 2016, setting out to offend someone with a costume is just kind of tacky.

"It's just about being mindful that just because you might have a good Halloween costume doesn't mean you can divorce from its historical context," Breaux said.

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