Cultural Appropriation and Halloween

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Cultural Appropriation and Halloween

Mr. Mata's Social Justice class and club worked together to make a mural for the students and staff on campus.

Mr. Mata's Social Justice class and club worked together to make a mural for the students and staff on campus.

Janelle Mejia

Mr. Mata's Social Justice class and club worked together to make a mural for the students and staff on campus.

Janelle Mejia

Janelle Mejia

Mr. Mata's Social Justice class and club worked together to make a mural for the students and staff on campus.

Janelle Mejia, Journalist

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As the spooky season arrives, the search for the perfect Halloween costume begins. However, as we look for the perfect costume for Halloween night, costumes of minority cultures and groups are not and should not be exploited for your night of parties and trick or treating. Cultural appropriation must be taken in consideration when considering the perfect costume to wear for Halloween festivities.

Some may think that dressing up as a Native American or putting on a KKK robe for the night is all for fun for the spooky night. However, one’s offensive costume can immensely impact and belittle another’s culture. Cultural appropriation is the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one’s culture or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

When asking Frank Mata, the Social Justice and Equity ERWC teacher on the Eleanor Roosevelt campus, on why is culture appropriation an important topic to consider when picking out Halloween costumes, he states,”We have to be mindful of appropriating costumes because they exploit marginalized groups, reducing the cultural significance to mere ‘exotic’ fads or novel trends. Cultural appropriating costumes reinforce dominant power structures and alienate the groups appropriated.” In addition, Mr. Mata advises that when picking costumes, “We have to think, which groups do appropriating costumes ultimately serve?”

Janelle Mejia
Mr. Mata’s Social Justice class and club worked together to make a mural for the students and staff on campus.

Furthermore, Mr. Mata stated that “It’s funny, I never see ‘Cholo’ costumes at high schools where real ones go too.” Moreover, if you are not in the position to represent the costume you wear, your costume may be insensitive and Halloween is not an excuse to be wearing your costume.

In addition, a student of Mata’s and Social Justice student, Erick Benas, stated that, “Members of a mocked culture may feel oppressed or feel that they are being made fun of because of how others choose to represent their culture with silly or provocative costumes.” Moreover, he believes that “Cultural appropriation should be considered while picking out Halloween costumes because certain costumes bring discomfort to those who are educated or part of that certain cultural costume.”

So when picking a Halloween culture in the future, make sure to ask yourself if it you are in the position to represent the culture and background of your “costume.” Cultural appropriation must be heavily discussed all throughout the year and Halloween festivities should never be an excuse to disrespect and belittle another’s roots.