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The Orion

No, you can’t wear a headdress on Halloween

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images- Alecsander Nakic

Photo courtesy of Getty Images- Alecsander Nakic

Photo courtesy of Getty Images- Alecsander Nakic


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No matter how many times cultural appropriation is mentioned in a college classroom, it doesn’t seem to matter the slightest when October rolls around. The likelihood of being familiarized with this term in a liberal college classroom is very high, but here’s a crash course.

Cultural appropriation, according to Oxford Reference, is a term used to describe one culture taking from another culture in “artistic or creative forms, themes and practices.”

It’s mostly associated with drunk white people dressing up as Native Americans, calling themselves Indians and then getting mad when others call them out on it. No, you’re not dressing up as an Indian, you’re dressing up as a Native American and it’s not OK.

Other common practices of cultural appropriation include things like white celebrities getting dreadlocks, non-African fashion models walking down the runway in African tribe prints or people coming back from Cabo after spring break with cornrows.

So now that the term is defined, what’s the problem?

The problem is that when white people take the benefits of underrepresented, marginalized and oppressed people, the benefits being their style, fashion, traditions, etc., and use them for their own gain, it is continuously perpetuating the culture of racism and superiority in America.

People cannot choose to be a Native American for Halloween because their war bonnets are beautiful and forget the not-so-beautiful past that is associated with them.

People cannot get dreadlocks or cornrows for a fun fashion trend because there are people of color with the exact same hairstyle who are getting fired from their jobs because of it.

It’s hard to see and understand as a privileged person, I get it. I am sure that there are no bad intentions for the majority of Chico State students who choose to make these costume decisions.

I hope that we can use this opportunity to learn and try to understand the perspective of those we are mimicking. I don’t know what it would feel like to be black, indigenous, Latino, etc.

I can’t take the good and reject the bad of any culture because they can’t either. It’s better to just go as a sexy cat again, you look fantastic in black spandex anyways.

If your child wants to dress up as Pocahontas for Halloween, that’s a different story. Disney princesses are hard to debate with a 5-year-old. Perhaps use this time to educate your child on the history and culture of the Native American people, or whoever else your kid wants to dress up as.

Use your best judgment and don’t let them go as a generic Native American. Don’t let your kid get cornrows, don’t wear afros at a ’70s theme party. Don’t do it.

This is the type of stuff we’re going to look back on in 100 years and wonder why everyone was so dang racist.

Kendall George can be reached at the [email protected] or @Kendallmgeorge.

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No, you can’t wear a headdress on Halloween