A Midnight not in Marrakesh

By Tandis Shoushtary

If spending the night sober in a gym filled with my fellow classmates wasn’t harrowing enough, this year, Safe and Sober Grad Night will feature the theme of “Midnight in Marrakesh”, meaning that high school students can enjoy a mystical night filled with henna, tarot card reading, images of mosques, and a lack of any authentic, tasteful representation of African, Arab, or Muslim culture.  

Midnight in Marrakesh is not a theme. Even if it wasn’t offensive to stereotype whatever seems vaguely middle eastern, exotic, and mystical as “Midnight in Marrakesh,” we need to acknowledge that oppressed cultures are not a setting for upper-class, predominantly white high school festivities.

The most confusing matter at hand however: what does tarot card reading even remotely have to do with Marrakesh? According to Index Mundi’s Morocco Demographics Profile of 2014, approximately 99% of the population is Muslim.  The practice of fortune telling is considered haram in islamic cultures, meaning that it is strictly forbidden by the religious texts of the Quran. So in what world,would “Midnight in Marrakesh” feature tarot card reading?  Quite frankly, even the smallest amount of research on arab cultures and astrology would have revealed that this is not just offensive, but careless, shameless, and ignorant.

“Midnight in Marrakesh” is not an innocent celebration of African, Arab, or Muslim culture; it’s not an educational, nor eye-opening introduction to Moroccan traditions. It’s blatant stereotyping, mocking and appropriation of an elaborate culture, as students spend the night in a misinterpreted mythical adaptation of cultures that deserve utmost respect– or at least some human decency.