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Human rights leaders encourage costume awareness ahead of Halloween weekend

Halloween costume of 'Egyptian' accessories in store
Halloween costume of 'Egyptian' accessories in store(kbjr 6/cbs 3)
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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TWIN PORTS, MN. (KBJR) - TWIN PORTS, MN-- Human rights leaders are warning the communities about cultural appropriation as many could dress up in another culture’s attire.

Halloween costumes and makeup
Halloween costumes and makeup(kbjr 6/cbs 3)

Cultural appropriation is defined as an inappropriate adoption of cultures by another dominant group of people or society.

University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Department Head of American Indian Studies, Jill Doerfler, said many costumes can be cultural appropriation, which can be highly offensive to minority groups.

“We do tend to see cultural appropriation where people are wearing costumes that might be representative of someone else’s culture, so an example of that is the poca-hottie costumes that are very popular,” Doerfler said.

Doerfler and Salisa Hochstetler, Assistant Director of University of Wisconsin Superior’s (UWS) department of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion said minorities that see these costumes on others can be psychologically harmful.

“This is another thing that the dominant culture is taking advantage of, by using some of the significant cultural history or significant cultural meaning to them and use it for their own benefit,” Hochstetler said.

Hochstetler said those costumes can mock, belittle, and demean identities and cultures.

Examples include wearing traditional indigenous headdresses, regalia, or darkening skins with makeup.

Another example, dressing as someone in a wheelchair or as others with disabilities or different backgrounds.

Things that are all avoidable, Doerfler said.

Doerfler encouraged people to dress up as other things like animals, food, or fantasy characters - to express yourself in a creative way without using other people’s identities.

“I think there’s lots of ways to be creative and express yourself and your identity rather than using Halloween to appropriate someone else’s identity use it to express yourself,” Doerfler said.

Their advice is to research and be more creative in ways that are fun and not potentially offensive.

If you or someone you know are experiencing psychological stress in these situations, you’re encouraged to reach out to a mental health professional or report anything that elevates into a hate crime to authorities.

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