Halloween can be a night for people to celebrate and have fun, but that is not the case for everyone. Many college students are currently brainstorming what, or who, they will be for the night. While some people do not intend to wear something offensive, certain costumes can invoke stereotypes that lead to racism, discrimination, and in some cases an increase in violence in those communities.
Whether the harm is intended or not, the result is the same and minoritized communities experience heightened anxiety and tension as they experience these stereotypes. It is important to understand how some costumes are offensive to others and their respective heritage and culture.
One of the main areas of concern is cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is “the act of adopting elements of an outside, often minority culture, including knowledge, practices, and symbols, without understanding or respecting the original culture and context.” As you decide what, or who you will be this Halloween, take the necessary steps to make certain you will not appropriate someone’s culture.
Remember: A culture is not a costume.