Students reflect on using cultures as Halloween costumes
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Feature, Campus, Local

Students reflect on using cultures as Halloween costumes

Published 10/10/17

Marissa Mitchell

TNE Writer

From “Cherokee Mistress” to “Taco Time Man,” Halloween costumes have become more and more controversial as the years go on. Recently, the ‘We are a culture, not a costume.’ movement has been making big waves in the Halloween community. Racial stereotypes can be seen in costumes for all ages. Oftentimes, it is taking something sacred from that culture, such as a headdress or a spiritual day, and mimicking it in a stereotype. This particular movement takes a stand against racial stereotypes and their use in Halloween costumes. Using posters, hashtags and speeches, the supporters of this movement are normal people of different cultures trying to educate people on these controversial costumes.

Between Cinco de Mayo and Halloween, Hispanic culture likenesses can be seen frequently. Many people from non-Hispanic cultures will dress up in sombreros and ponchos and claim they are celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, during Halloween. Day of the Dead typically lands on Oct. 31 and will span a few days into November. This is a time of prayer for some families and is taken very seriously. Seeing people adorn sombreros and ponchos during this time can become frustrating for people of that culture.

Megan Gasca, McAlester junior, associates herself with Hispanic culture and feels there is a very fine line that some people just cannot see.

“I feel like think there’s a very fine line between appreciation and appropriation,” said Gasca. “Embracing Hispanic culture and wanting to learn more about it is wonderful, but wearing an offensive stereotype as a costume is just in bad taste.”

Sometimes, the people who are wearing these controversial costumes are not wearing them out of spite. They are simply uneducated about the different cultures around them and what can be taken as offensive.

Previous NSU student Maddie Lamb of Tahlequah was recently featured on News on Six for taking a stand against misrepresentation of Native Americans. She identifies with Native American culture, hailing from the Creek and Mojave tribes.

“I know that most people don’t have bad intentions when dressing as ‘natives,’” said Lamb. “They are simply uneducated on the subject and it is our job to educate them and hopefully make a difference. Everything starts with education. If you are not properly educated then you’re never going to know whether or not something okay.”

Halloween costumes can be seen as fun and games. Yue Song, Shanxi Province, China graduate student, feels that Halloween costumes depicting a culture different from your own can be a form of expression.

“I think there is nothing wrong with it as long as the person does not mean to discriminate,” said Song. “People have known those costumes and Halloween gives people a chance to wear those costumes. Those costumes may make them feel strange and happy as other Halloween costumes do.”

Collectively, these three students agree that if they were at a Halloween party and saw someone wearing one of the many controversial costumes, they would start by talking to the person in an effort to educate them on racial stereotypes.

 “If I saw someone dressed up as any type of culture somewhere I would approach them and ask if I can discuss their attire with them,” said Lamb. “I would educate them on how it is not appropriate and try to be very honest without sounding defensive. Honestly, I’m not sure how someone would react, but it’s definitely the right thing to do. If we don’t step up and do something about it, nothing will ever change and people will continue to do these same things.”


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