By | Reza Sadeghzadeh
Some people might think it’s sexy to wear a Pocahontas costume for Halloween or funny to dress up like a Muslim wearing a thawb with a fake bomb strapped to their chest.
But ask a Native American woman if she thinks it’s sexy to dress up like a subordinate Disney character where Native Americans are portrayed as a second-class citizens. Ask her if she thinks it’s sexy to dress up like Pocahontas when Native American women have the highest rate of rape and assault.
Ask Mohammad Maleki, a former HSU student from Iran, if it’s funny to dress up like a stereotypical Muslim suicide bomber when he was unable to come back to America during Trump’s travel ban earlier this year.
Those who like to use other people’s cultures as costumes might claim that they are only choosing to dress as such just for the sake of Halloween. They’ll add that they don’t mean to promote racial stereotypes. But their intention is irrelevant.
That is why the My Culture is Not a Costume campaign has been brought to our campus with the endeavor of students like Deema Hindaw to raise awareness about this issue.
“My goal with this campaign is to show people that cultural appropriation is not a joke,” said Hindaw. “The culture of others shouldn’t be a costume that one gets to wear for a night.”
Hindaw and other students from the MultiCultural Center have also put together a workshop to inform others about the distinction between cultural appreciation and appropriation.
My Culture is Not a Costume is a nationwide movement. It is not just about a costume, it is also about “putting on other people’s skin for that one night as a prop,” said Elizabeth Phillips, a Communication student at HSU. “And at the end of the night, you get to take it off and maintain your privilege while other people have to deal with their cultural reality… the reality that our society has viewed skin color in a hierarchy.”
Every culture is beautiful and slightly different from one another. But at the end of the day, we are all humans who want the same things in life. Cultural appropriation is a systematic ideology implemented by those who are advocates of racial segregation and the scandalous rhetoric of “divide and conquer.”
Cultural appreciation is a framework for solidarity, because it helps us admire our cultural differences that is used as guidance for a healthy dialogue regarding race. Finally, culturally appropriated costumes discourage us from having any type of healthy dialogue about our different cultures.