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    Halloween appropriation - Community members weigh in
    Posted on 10/01/2019
    photo of halloween costumes in stores

    Isabel S.Staff Writer, The Sentinel, Nathan Hale High School

    Candy corn. Ghosts. Scary movies. Pumpkin patches. The halloween season is upon us and with it comes many exciting activities. An important decision during halloween is your costume. Will you be a ghost? A celebrity? A pun? Maybe you want to dress up as something from another culture. If you do want to wear a costume from another culture, be careful because what you choose to wear could affect others.

    Many students and staff are affected by cultural appropriation, especially members of marginalized groups. Black Student Union, Latinx Unidx, Pride Club, Coalition of Asian and Pacific Students, and Šəqačib, a class aimed at supporting Native American students, all had something to say about cultural appropriation and how it affects the people within their community.

    Cultural appropriation is when a person employs aspects from a culture that is not their own and does not show understanding or respect to the culture.

    Popular media has seen it’s fair share of cultural appropriation. Many football teams, such as the Washington Redsk-ns, have come under fire for their mascot, depicting a man wearing stereotypical native accessories. Many celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, have also come under fire for appropriating different cultures, specifically traditionally African American hairstyles and dress.

    Cultural appropriation is concerning to many people because it leads to stereotypes and double standards in society.

    “A lot of things have become normalized like sagging, or like wearing a bandana, acting like you’re hood. If a black person is doing it they’re ghetto. If someone outside of a culture is doing it it’s cool, it’s a trend,” Sadeen Nejwed, sophomore and member of BSU said.

    During Halloween, appropriation is commonly seen as people dressing up as a person from a specific culture, or with culturally significant items that do not represent the user’s own heritage.
    “It’s been pretty famous for a couple of years, the whole Native American costume or Indian costume. Everyone’s been speaking out about it for years but they still wear it,” Aaron Eagle Speaker, freshman student in Šəqačib said. “It makes our regalia look more like costumes. It makes our feathers look like things that we went to Walmart and bought, when really every [piece] has a meaning and a story.”

    Cultural appropriation affects every culture and identity.

    “During Halloween a lot of people dress up as La Katrina or as a Mexican man. I don’t think they get that it’s really hurtful for people to dress up as a Mexican person. It’s making fun of us and giving in to the stereotypes that people have of us,” an anonymous sophomore member of Latinx Unidx said.

    Appropriation reinforces previous stereotypes that people have of other cultures.

    “It affects how we’re perceived by other races. Not all of us have a long a*s mustache. Not all or us wear sombreros,” sophomore and member of Latinx Unidx Patricia Briseno said.
    It can also depend on how a person acts while they are wearing a costume.

    “[Some people dress up] in a really offensive way, in a way to make fun of it,” Eimie Day, sophomore and member of Pride Club, explained. “[Or they use the costume] in a way where it’s more the butt of a joke.”

    When a person enters a store and sees their own identity on sale as a costume, it can affect their own self image. Stacia Hawkinson, teacher of Šəqačib recounted her friends experience when she walked into a Halloween store with her kids.

    “For them to walk into a store and see a whole shelf full of Native American fake costumes...modeled on people that were clearly not Native, it upset [my friend] to the point where she wanted the store to take them down or for us to go protest.” Hawkinson said.

    When people see their own cultures on sale as costumes it can cause a feeling of disrespect.

    “It puts a negative connotation onto it. It feels like you’re being disrespected,” sophomore and President of CAPS Pie Apichatpichien said.

    People who are not within a culture can still appreciate other cultures, as long as they don’t take from them.
    “If I’m appreciating the appropriate ways of regalia then I might go to a pow-wow, they’re open to everyone. [You can] feel like you’re a part of something without taking something that’s not yours,” Hawkinson said.
    There are also many opportunities at Hale to get involved with other cultures.

    “Come to Pride Club. We love to tell people about stuff and educate them in a friendly way,” Day said.

    “We have a really diverse student body and there are a lot of events that happen that are based off people’s culture and you can try and be part of the event and learn more about it, and learn the importance of certain elements of certain cultures,” anonymous member of Latinx Unidx said.

    Some people argue that dressing up as something from a different culture shows that they appreciate it, but that can still be considered offensive.

    “For Halloween if you were appreciating a culture you wouldn’t wear it.”, sophomore and president of CAPS Christa Chan said.

    And if a person does want to dress up as something from a different culture, and wants to do it respectfully, Day suggests, “figuring out exactly what the community feels comfortable with you, as someone who is not a part of the community doing.”