Don’t appropriate this Halloween

Halloween costumes found on are examples of cultural appropriation. 

Madison Brattoli

Halloween is fast approaching and as students prepare to dress in elaborate costumes, the community focuses on educating others to not dress in offensive costumes.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, cultural appropriation is defined as,“The act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”

“This can include blackface minstrelsy and afro wings,” said Amy-rose, assistant professor of Pan-African studies.

Other costumes that appropriate a culture include native American Indian dresses, traditional Asian dresses, Mexican ponchos and Arab wear.  

Recently, cultural appropriation has become a hot topic on social media platforms.

Twitter users have started a trend in making memes out of cultural appropriation, not taking the topic seriously.

Twitter user @JoeyZimmz tweeted about his culture being appropriated in a joking manner.

“Culture appropriation is when someone from a privileged identity takes and utilizes a cultural expression of any form (style, a way of speaking, dancing, etc.) created by or predominately used by a minority group,” said Myriah Wiltrout, resident hall director.

Educating college students on cultural appropriation is important, especially during the Halloween season.

Cultures that are commonly appropriated include Native American, Asian, African American and Indian.

Wiltrout makes it a priority to educate her freshman residents on the topic.

“Empowering our students with education can help them to make better costume decisions and hopefully create a more inclusive and respectful environment on campus,” she said.

Students that have educated themselves on the topic strive to educate others on campus.

“I believe that the line between experiencing someone’s culture in a positive way (cultural appreciation), and disrespecting it (cultural appropriation) is when someone starts to make fun of another’s culture or interrupt it in an offensive way,” said Kent State human development and family studies sophomore Diamond Lauderdale.

“Instead of appreciating it- they are laughing at them or not understanding boundaries of sensitive times or topics of a culture,” she said.

The difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation is a fine line. Individuals who take part in culture appreciation acknowledge the current culture and wish to learn more, whereas individuals taking part in cultural appropriation do not respect a culture.

Professor of Pan-African studies, Amy-Rose shares her thoughts on the topic. “As an Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies and theatre director, I strive to educate people on the difference between appreciation and appropriation using cultural theatre,” said Amy-Rose. “I haven’t had any direct personal experience, but being a Black woman − (collectively) we are always susceptible to stereotypical images.”


In order to understand culture appropriation follow these three S’s:

  1. Source: Think first about the source culture. Is this a culture that has been historically discriminated against or oppressed (blacks, American Indians). If so, proceed with caution.

  2. Significance (or sacredness): What’s the significance of what you’re taking? Is it something that is of major cultural significance, or maybe even something sacred, or is it just a run-of-the-mill ordinary item, an everyday commodity? (American Indian headdresses, Scafidi said, are the “equivalent of military medals. They’re not just decoration or hats or jewelry or something ornamental. They mean something.”)

  3. Similarity: And finally, think about the similarity of what you’re doing. Are you interpreting or being inspired by someone else’s culture, or are you just making an exact copy?


Madison Brattoli is a Diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected]