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!



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