There’s no excuse for Newcastle students to be mocking culture in the name of fancy dress

Students wearing Arab dress as a costume is proof that we have a long way to go

Two weeks ago, a group of Newcastle students went out clubbing dressed in thobes and ghutra, proving that we still have a long way to go in rectifying cultural appropriation.

Spotted on a night out in the city centre on Thursday 19th October, these students exemplified the meaning of white privilege in poor choice of fancy dress.

You’d think in this day and age that the trend of offensive Halloween or fancy dress costumes would well and truly be retired. But it seems these boys in Newcastle are yet to get the memo.

Dressed each in a thobe, the Arab dress for the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula, the boys were seen photobombing group pictures with other club goers at an after party event. They also wore ghutras, or keffiyehs, a traditional headdress worn by men from parts of the Middle East.

So when did it become ok for these items, which are worn as a representation of heritage and cultural traditions, to be mocked, culturally appropriated, and capitalised on in the form of a fancy dress costume? The answer is never and there’s just no excuse for it.

In a world with so much hate, there’s no place for reckless decisions such as by these students. There’s never a time that mocking culture or tradition is acceptable, so consulting Islamophobia through a fancy dress costume decisions is never going to be ok.

And more importantly, not calling out these behaviours is basically as problematic as the offence itself. There’s no room for silence while students and young people are still being subject to racial abuse.

Young people are often a voice of reason, a beacon of hope against older populations who are often most problematic when it comes to equality and fair treatment to all, regardless of demographic. So to see students in Newcastle partake in these damaging behaviours is more than disappointing, it’s a step backwards and a slap in the face to everyone who rightly believes in equal treatment and the eradication of racism in our student community.

It’s 2023 and yet these students are example of how far we still have to go to rid racism and cultural appropriation from our environment.

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