Costume or Culture


Halloween is the scary but treatful night that we all wait year round for. Not many debatable opinions can be derived from holidays such as this one, but there is one major topic that digs itself up every year as the months creep closer to October — appropriate Halloween costumes. Simple yet complex, the idea of wearing the wrong thing from the wrong background and/or culture can turn a fun night into a regrettable one pretty quickly. What you think of as a costume could be someone’s culture. 

The debate on whether certain costumes can be claimed as cultural appropriation has been plaguing minds for years now. Is it that serious? Are we not taking it seriously enough? Are we silencing voices?  Do they need to be silenced? All of these questions are put into perspective but there has never been a clear answer. 

When asked her opinion on the matter in a recent interview, K’lah T., a junior at Garner High School, said, “It’s all just a ‘it depends’ kind of matter.” When speaking on the subject you have to go deeper than just what they have on. We need to converse about the history of what we wear. Whether it’s light hearted or offensive will derive from the research we’ll do.” 

Research comes up a lot in these debates, whether it is thrown in during an argument or civilly brought up in a conversation. The lack of research seems to be the beginning of many people’s downfall. Society as a whole puts much thought into what is cool and less thought into what is offensive to different cultures, races, and groups. Adding this step when choosing a costume may prove useful and reduce a great percentage of the problem. 

So although we all enjoy the festivities of Halloween and all it has to offer, it is time for us to start celebrating it correctly — this in turn may decrease world hatred. Respect is an important concept for all humans to think about. So, the next time you are looking on the web for nice costumes, remember to respect, research, and reaffirm. When you’re hitting up your local Party City, or shopping online at Amazon, keep in mind the sensitivities of cultures. Ask friends, family, or even neighbors whether the costume you chose will be appropriate or not. 

This is a video of a Math teacher inappropriately ‘mocking’ the Native American culture. 

In the beginning of the video, before the teacher starts to mimic what she’d describe to be “Tomahawk” motions, she says, “I don’t know, Tomahawks?” and proceeds to look at her students and ask, “Is that right? Is this what it is?” clearly showing she has no regard for the disrespectful actions she’s doing. She has not shared generational trauma with Native Americans so she has no right to mindlessly make those motions. 

My article is here to help prevent this in our young generation. There are no excuses for blatantly dehumanizing someone’s culture, so wear what you know. 

Don’t overstep boundaries and think before buying. Is it a costume, or is it a part of someone’s culture? 


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