By Justin Field
The Halloween tradition of dressing up in costumes is age old, but has evolved to something different – characters rooted in culture
When it comes to other people’s cultures, there could come a definite line between what is costume and what can be considered appropriation.
Appropriation is the concept of taking or using an aspect of someone else’s culture, without showing understanding or respect that culture, according to Cambridge Dictionary.
Amazing Party and Costume, and Party City, two stores in Etobicoke had no shortage of culturally appropriated or potentially offensive costumes. These costumes included “Native American”, “Dreadlock Rasta Wig” and “Taco” respectively consisting of a sombrero, maracas, and even a giant taco.
The pushback seen in recent years when it comes to culturally appropriated costumes has sparked debate, including from staff at the University of Guelph Humber. The University sent emails to students which included a reminder to not use other people’s cultures as a costume.
Part of the email sent to students at University of Guelph Humber
For some people in 2018 a reminder is needed that using somebodies culture as a Halloween costume might come across as offensive.
Brikan Demir and Duy Nguyen, students at Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus did not necessarily see anything wrong with some costumes found at the party stores.
“If you don’t feel comfortable don’t wear it, if you do, it’s fine”, Demir said.
Both agreed that it’s more about intention than anything, while it isn’t racist unless you use it in a such a way.
Taco costume from Party City
Although some students did not care or see anything negative about the costumes, student Jessica White, did see how they could offend.
White described what she would think if she saw someone wearing one of these costumes on campus.
“I wouldn’t think it’s the appropriate place, you are dealing with an educational institution with a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds – and Humber really respects aboriginal culture” she said.
“You have to be aware of other perspectives” White said. She also explained how she does not personally feel offended by these costumes.
While debates surrounding appropriated costumes continue, these costumes are still being stocked on store shelves this Halloween.