Dr. Charlotte Cote, UW faculty member of American Indian Studies, briefly describes the outrage seen in the community caused by Photo by Sara Koopai
Racial discrimination and stereotypes during Halloween were the topics of a panel titled “My Culture is Not a Costume,” held Thursday by MEChA, First Nations, and the Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC).
A panel of professors, students, and community leaders discussed how cultural appropriation, the fashion industry, and historical context impact different cultures through costumes.
The panel discussion revolved around the impact of culturally insensitive costumes during the Halloween season.
“It’s all about educating [the public],” said Alana Quintasket, president of First Nations.
UW senior Jessica Gonzalez said people need to become more informed and be more critical about misappropriated cultures in the media.
“On college campuses, people don’t know why they are dressing up as Pocahontas,” MEChA Co-Chair Juliette Olivos said.
Elizabeth Campoz, active MEChA attendee, said costumes like sombreros, ponchos, native dresses, and Navajo prints that are worn around the Halloween season perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes.
“You don’t know the history behind [our culture], but yet you’re trying to act like it,” Campoz said.
Speakers on the panel discussed the specific aspects of their culture that are replicated inaccurately. The history of the Chicano and Mexican-American culture are not accurately represented in current media.
“Our cultures are now being commoditized so that they can be sold,” said Dian Million, UW assistant professor of American Indian studies.
Olivos used the tradition of Native Americans wearing buckskin as an example. Olivos said only Native American men wear the clothing during sacred ceremonies.
“If you are going to wear a costume, be mindful of who you are affecting and what it means to wear what you will be wearing,” said Pedro Pineda-Junco, student from Shoreline Community College and panel participant. “This is 2012, and we’re still doing things that don’t make sense.”
* This article originally said the panel members ranged from Chicanos and Mexicans to various Native American communities. This was inaccurate. It also listed Jessica Gonzalez as an alumna. She is actually an undergraduate senior.
Reach reporter Thamar Theodore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ThamarTheodore
Please read our Comment policy.