Avoid wearing inappropriate costumes Reply

Illustration by Amanda Bennett.

Illustration by Amanda Bennett.

Olivia Slaughter – Contributing Writer

Fall is here. The trees are turning colors, brushing our beautiful campus in hues of orange, red, and yellow, a reminder that one of the greatest holidays on campus, Halloween, is approaching. It’s also time to prepare for one of the most anticipated campus parties of the year, the Halloween Dance. But this time of year is not exciting for everyone. It can also be a painful time for many, especially those whose cultures or identities are offended by another’s Halloween costume.

Cultural appropriation, or the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group, is a problem on this campus. It is a constant reminder to some that who they are as a person and what they identify as is taken as a joke by others.

People’s cultures are not costumes. When you put on blackface, you have to think about the minstrel shows for which they originally were worn. If you dress up as a Native American and wear a war bonnet, try to understand that a war bonnet was a symbol of honor for those who fought valiantly for their tribe. Ku Klux Klan hoods should not have to be explained.

The connotations behind wearing a “costume” like this do not reflect well on one’s character. Dressing up in these costumes tells people that you are small-mind-ed and do not think of others. What could be even worse is your future employer finding the pictures of you in these costumes. No one wants to hire a bigot. Think of your future.

So this Halloween let’s leave the “geisha,” “Native American,” “red neck/white trash” “black face” Halloween costumes alone. Let’s be creative and celebrate the holiday without harming others. Understand why you will not be allowed into the dance in a racist costume.

Several campus groups have joined together to prevent culturally offensive costumes and educate the community about why we need to avoid creating them. SGA, MSU, the Honors Program, the Social Sciences Department, the Center for Community Based Learning, have all taken a stance against these costumes. We commend them.

Lasell’s Values to Live By mean something. While Halloween gives us an opportunity to express ourselves, we should do so by choosing to wear creative and culturally sensitive costumes.

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