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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

‘My Culture is Not a Costume’ teaches Gaels the importance of cultural sensitivity during the festive season

Photo courtesy of susquehannastyle.com
As a part of Leadership Wednesday, SLAM discussed the differences of cultural appropriation and appreciation.

Halloween is a time for people to enjoy themselves. The holiday is meant to be spent with friends, eating a lot of candy and, of course, dressing up in costumes. However, it is important to make sure that costumes are respectful to other cultures and are not offensive.  

A joint event between Student Leader Alliance for Multiculturalism and the Council of Greek Governance, “My Culture is Not a Costume,” was a way to remind students of the impact of their costumes. It explained how to identify cultural appropriation and appreciation as well as how to keep their costumes respectful this year.  

Led by the SLAM E-Board, the main portion of the presentation highlighted both cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, explaining the differences between the two. The presentation stressed that while cultural appreciation is showing a genuine and respectful interest in learning more about a culture and connecting with others, cultural appropriation is inappropriately taking elements from another culture that is not your own.  

Unfortunately, cultural appropriation is common around Halloween.  

“Halloween is coming up and a lot of cultural appropriation is going to happen,” said SLAM Vice President Jeremiah Vidal. “Our goal is to educate people about these issues.”   

One of SLAM’s goals is to create an open conversation about cultural appropriation and appreciation and to encourage people to think when picking out costumes.” 

“This is part of SLAM’s effort to bring more attention to the cultural appropriation that happens during Halloween.” Vidal stated.  

The event proposed various scenarios and invited participants to stand or sit based on if they believed the situation was cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation. The activity’s purpose was to get the participants to think about what could be considered cultural appropriation, such as traditional outfits, hairstyles and religious clothing that may fall into the realm.  

SLAM gave some pointers for students to consider when picking out costumes for Halloween. The first recommendation is to look if the costume packaging says something like “tribal” or “traditional.” Second, check if the costume has any race-related hair or accessories. Third, consider if the costume plays into any cultural stereotypes. Fourth, think about if the costume represents a culture that is not your own.  

Finally, if you have any doubts about whether the costume could be considered cultural appropriation, it is probably best to reconsider. 

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Parker Hankla
Parker Hankla, Staff Writer

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