It's almost Halloween! That means it's time for candy! Costumes! And cultural appropriation? Over the past couple of years cultural appropriation has become a really big deal. A really big and really important deal. However, sometimes I think certain aspects get blown out of proportion or handled in a negative way that doesn't promote the change that we really should be working towards. I think we're sometimes blinded by our anger and can't see that we can use holidays like this for a little bit of education and cultural appreciation.
This Halloween, in true University spirit, there are parties all weekend and even into the week! Lucky for me I not only get to dress up for Halloween but experience my first Dia de los Muertos. As I scoured Pinterest for some great Day of the Dead makeup tips I came across this great article by Meirav Devash. She interviews and gets tips from makeup artist Judith Bautista who says this great thing:
"Most people just want to look like cool skulls for the night, and I take the opportunity to share a bit of my culture with them."
I think Bautista has got a mindset that we need to all adopt. I think it's great that she's not offended by people wanting to "look like cool skulls", but rather takes this opportunity to explain to people and her clients where these cool skulls come from and educate them on their cultural significance.
On the flip side, I know there are a ton of people who completely disregard a culture or criticise the native culture for something the dominant culture is praised for. So how can you tell if something "counts" as offensive? Answer: Context. Context is hugely important when it comes to cultural appropriation and it's something that I can't explain as elegantly as this article from Everyday Feminism. So give that a read to gain perspective on context of cultural appropriation.
Personally, I believe if someone wants to take something from another culture, then instead of belittling them for trying to be someone they're not, we can start to teach them about the historic and cultural value behind it. From that point forward, it's really their decision to make whether or not it would be insensitive to continue or not.