Native American Costumes

Before the Christmas décor is completely thrown at us, we briefly get to enjoy spooky season. It may look a little different this year, but costumes are still an integral part of this holiday. Even though this year has not been absolutely the best, we can still make this Halloween better than last year by being conscious of the costumes we choose. 

I do not mean trying to find the best costume, but on that note, a Carole Baskin costume is not it. I mean we should be conscious of different cultures. You might be wondering what this entails. Well, for example, have you ever seen costumes labeled as a group of people, such as Native Americans? Unfortunately, I bet you have. You most likely saw these costumes your whole life and never thought twice. 

We were raised in a school system which told us dressing up as Native Americans was fine for Thanksgiving, but we hardly learned about their history and culture. I hope you see the issues with this system. This way of thinking has melted into Halloween costumes, and it has been there for a long time. 

In the past few years, I have noticed campaigns to raise awareness for why dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween is wrong. This act is called cultural appropriation. It is disrespectful to take on a different culture which is not your own as a costume. That is someone's heritage and traditions you are mocking, whether you mean to or not. 

According to Andrea Lee-Greenberg with ABC News, "year after year North Americans are reminded not to be total jerks when choosing costumes. Year after year, somehow, we fail." Lee-Greenberg also includes a question to ask yourself when picking a costume: "Does your costume totally denigrate a vulnerable population?" If yes, do not wear it. Lee-Greenberg developed this question based off of a Canadian school that sent home a checklist to parents to make sure their child's costume was not offensive. 

It is fantastic to see rules against these types of costumes, and I think it is very important for college students to learn this as well. Even if there are no Halloween parties this year, there will be in the future. So, we need to be mindful of others. 

According to Marian Liu with The Washington Post, "despite a long-running debate about racism and cultural appropriation, often prompted by backlash against celebrities and politicians for donning offensive costumes, people continue to wear such costumes." 

Cultural appropriation and racism are wrong. There is no debate necessary. So, I believe not only are people just ignorant to cultural appropriation, but also some people do not care. Some say people are too sensitive, but it is not their culture, family and heritage being dragged through the mud every year. 

Native American peoples have beautiful cultures and history which are too often ignored. Their traditional wardrobes have special meanings, and for someone outside their group to wear a culturally appropriated outfit for the sake of a Halloween costume is racist and degrades the respective culture. Liu mentions cultural appropriation is found in a variety of costumes, such as how "Asian-inspired" costumes are generally sexualized. Why is it we still find offensive costumes in 2020? We need to educate ourselves. 

Caleb Parke with Fox News mentions how a Catholic university cracked down on cultural appropriation on their campus and with their students. Moreover, they took this issue seriously around several holidays, such as Halloween and Cinco de Mayo. 

From Parke and Liu, we see colleges are combatting this issue of costumes, and we should too. So, instead of being a jerk this Halloween, just be a unicorn.

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