My Culture is Not a Costume

Cultural appropriation (n): the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture.

The Latino Student Alliance’s campaign, “My culture is not a costume,” has brought together six minority student groups to ask UVA students to watch what they wear. They posted a statement on Facebook yesterday:

“This Halloween, we would like to remind you that a culture is not a costume. Incorrectly wearing clothing from a culture not your own results in a misrepresentation of that culture and often perpetuates harmful stereotypes – stereotypes many have dedicated their lives to dismantling. Some articles of clothing used for these “harmless” costumes are in fact considered sacred and inappropriate to be worn outside of their original settings. So we, Asian Leaders Council, Black Student Alliance, Indian Student Association, Latino Student Alliance, Middle Eastern Leadership Council, and Native American Student Union, members of the minority community here at UVA, ask you to consider your costume, what it represents and how it could affect marginalized members of your community.”

As students of UVA, we ought to hold ourselves to higher standards and take a closer look at the costumes we choose to wear this weekend, on Halloween itself, and every day thereafter.

To learn more about cultural appropriation, check out the following resources (click to follow links):

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cultural Appropriation

Why Cultural Appropriation is Wrong

Cultural Exchange vs. Cultural Appropriation