Monthly Archives

October 2015


Halloween and Cultural Appropriation

Halloweekend approaches, and no, you don’t get a pass to “Put the WOW in pow wow”:


You’re free to dress how you want this Halloween, but you’re not free of the responsibility to respect the cultures of your peers. Not only is it blatant disrespect and negligence of the history of a group of people to misuse cultural symbols for a fun night out (i.e. “Pocahontas” in the image above), it poorly reflects upon you, your peers, and your community.

The #TommiesThinkTwice initiative pushes for UST community members to be mindful of behaviors and beliefs that might be practiced unconsciously which harm underrepresented populations.

This weekend, we ask that you be aware of Halloween costumes that misuse cultural symbols. Think twice about supporting such costumes, and think twice about your intent and the message you’re sending if you do wear a costume inspired by a certain culture. Read this article about Colorado University’s “We’re A Culture, Not a Costume” campaign for this Halloween season, and check out the series of posters being created for it.


Our message is simple: don’t misuse culture for fun. It allows for stereotypes and misunderstandings of others to persist, and it doesn’t make you look good.

If you do feel inclined to correct someone’s misuse of culture, great! But please do not shame people for doing so. You can explain what is wrong about it without attacking a person’s character or embarrassing them.

For tips on how to address cultural appropriation and its distinction from cultural exchange/appreciation, consider looking at these resources:

Come into our office (ASC 224) for Purple Bench this Friday, October 30 at 3 p.m. to further discuss this topic.

Thank you for reading! Be safe this Halloween, think twice about cultural appropriation, and come back soon to get more from Voices of Diversity!



Heritage Month, Purple Bench

In Conclusion: Hispanic Heritage Month

This Friday will mark the end of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. From discussions on the lived experiences of undocumented immigrants to Afro-Caribbean dance nights, the month was full of enriching and fun activity. Here are some of the highlights:

Diversity Film Series: Spare Parts

SDIS began its new Diversity Film Series with the presentation of Spare Parts the night of September 15th. The film, starring George Lopez and Marisa Tomei, is a dramatization of a true story about four undocumented Mexican-American high school students who competed and won in a college-level underwater robotics contest against tough odds.

Issues like socioeconomic disadvantage, neglect from authority figures (e.g. parents, school administrators), and constant family strain due to legal complications were illustrated in the film. A discussion during Purple Bench the Friday after the screening evoked greater discussion about the struggles of undocumented immigrants.

One major takeaway from the Purple Bench discussion was debunking the inaccurate view of undocumented immigrants being an isolated population of Mexicans that live near the border. The undocumented Hispanic/Latino immigrant community includes many Central and South Americans, and is widespread in the USA. An intimate personal testimony revealed to us that it also includes residents of South Minneapolis that many of us frequently pass by and interact with.

Spare Parts  allowed an accurate glimpse into the daily lives of these families, and the experiences shared at Purple Bench provided better understanding and empathy for their plight.


Culture Stew: Slavery in the Americas

Our first Culture Stew of the school year dove into the rich but little-known history of African slavery in South America. With a focus on Brazilian slavery, Dr. Kari Zimmerman detailed differences in the daily lives of African slaves in Brazil versus the American colonies. This led to a greater discussion about how Brazil’s history shaped the nation’s racial climate.

Students who attended the event said they gained a perspective on race in America and a greater understanding of the cultural diversity in Latin America. It not only opened their eyes to Brazilian history and culture, but it provided a comparison to reevaluate American society with a new lens.



On October 7th, Minneapolis-based Afro-Caribbean Dance band Malamanya came to perform in ASC Woulfe. The music played included Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue. People of all different skill levels came out and danced the night away to some live, upbeat Afro-Caribbean music.


Heartwarming, entertaining, and educational. Hispanic Heritage Month was a great mix of events and programs that saw people learn and have plenty of fun engaging with Hispanic and Latino culture.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our programs! We are now getting ready for our next heritage month celebration, Native American Heritage Month, in November. Stay tuned for updates!