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5 Ways to Avoid Cultural Appropriation This Halloween

By Odia Melissa Nyembo

Halloween is coming around and I think it’s about the time we talk cultural appropriation when planning your costume this year. It’s too easy to misappropriate another person’s culture, even unintentionally.

Cultural appropriation can be loosely defined as adopting elements of another culture that isn’t your own, especially exploiting its aesthetics when you don’t know the meaning or history behind them. “Borrowing” from another culture is often benign, however aspects of the culture is often not credited to the originators but westernized instead.

We’ve seen examples of this time and time again in the media such as Kylie Jenner with her cornrows; Kendall Jenner thinking she can solve civil rights conflicts with a Pepsi while also wearing a Native American headdress to Coachella; and how can we forget fashion designer Marc Jacob with his insensitive dreadlock runway mess last year?

To avoid such mishaps, I highly recommend asking yourself these 5 simple questions;

  1. What are my intentions?

  2. What ethnic/racial/cultural group does this belong to?

  3. Has this group ever been marginalized or oppressed before?

  4. Why would anyone be offended by this?

  5. What/How Am I Gaining from this? Is it a must?

If there is still any doubt, the best bet is to ask someone or just think of something else. At the end of the day even if you think it’s just for all fun and games, you might be crossing a cultural, racial or ethnic line for someone else. So yes, if you were thinking about going as Mulan, Pocahontas, an Egyptian Pharaoh, a sugar skull, blackface, yellow face or anything along those lines, I would definitely reconsider. Even though you might not agree or think it’s a big deal, showing respect is much cooler than any Halloween costume out there.











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