Editorial: Society still doesn’t understand the meaning of cultural appropriation

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 Cultural appropriation is taking over Halloween. More specifically, cultural appropriation is taking away the fun of dressing up for Halloween.

Now that I have your attention, let’s take a step back as a society. Cultural appropriation isn’t ruining anything about Halloween, but rather improving society as a whole.

How anyone can make the case that cultural appropriation is ruining the fun for the October 31 holiday baffles me.

Brock University’s Student Justice Centre made a Facebook post on their page on October 5 about how “it’s important to remember our responsibility in ensuring our costumes and apparel are not causing harm to members of different cultures and marginalized communities”. On Oct. 16 that post had almost 100 shares, over 150 likes and another 150 comments, however, some of the comments on the post were racist, homophobic, transphobic and Islamophobic.

The hateful comments led to the Student Justice Centre releasing a statement to confirm their commitment to their Appreciate Don’t Appropriate campaign.

“We have witnessed a hateful and woefully ignorant side of our global community,” the statement said. “If anything, the violent response we have received furthers our point of view; widespread education and policy-level change is needed in places of higher learning to counteract the greater impacts of racist behaviour,” the statement continued.

I’m not even going to share any of the terrible comments made on the Oct. 5 post, because those people don’t deserve the attention. However, I will bring to the attention that society clearly took a step back with the comments made. Some of the hateful comments were made by Brock students, but the post also featured people that don’t attend the university.

We are only a couple years removed from the incident of ‘black face’ during Brock University Students’ Unions costume contest at Isaac’s Bar & Grill. A group of students dressed up as the Jamaican Bobsled team and it caught the attention of major news outlets, leading to backlash for BUSU.

We as a society still don’t understand that adopting elements of one culture for the ‘fun’ of Halloween isn’t the way the holiday is supposed to be celebrated. That’s why the Student Justice Centre made the post, as a reminder for students. It’s why as a campus newspaper, as the editor, I feel we need to get the same message across. Halloween can still be fun, but it doesn’t need to involve other cultures.

Some retail stores are getting the messages in 2017 as well. Most costume stores open for the season confirmed to the CBC that they would make sure their costumes are inclusive. Major retail store Walmart Canada confirmed last week that they have pulled Indigenous Halloween costumes from its website.

Some retail stores still say they’ll sell costumes, because they’re a ‘costume store’. Yet to most cultures, the costumes being sold that apparently represent them are not meant to be costumes. They are for special occasions for that specific culture or they’re for religious purposes.

If students in a university institution can’t understand cultural appropriation, there needs to be more education at a younger age. For a group in higher education, need to understand different cultures and how society is supposed to be run. A Facebook post by our Student Justice Centre should not have received so much hate.

Although it was a select group of students (and non-students) that made these hateful comments, it still represents the university poorly. These people don’t speak for the school or the entire student body, but let’s grow up and understand that everyone’s culture should be respected and appreciated.

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