‘Cultural appropriation’: Halloween costumes (& fun) under fire

Several colleges across the country are telling students to choose their Halloween costumes carefully, so as to not upset people of minority races. Recent workshops and events at various schools are shedding light on what they see as a big problem.

Colleges are using guides, checklists, workshops, threats of investigations and offering 24/7 counseling on the matter of cultural appropriation through the wearing of certain Halloween costumes.

Earlier this month, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota put up “Costume or Culture Appropriation”fliers, which listed “unacceptable” clothing and costumes, including Native American headdresses, a geisha outfit or a Mexican sombrero.

“Cultural appropriation is defined as ‘the act of taking intellectual and cultural expressions from a culture that is not your own, without showing that you understand or respect the culture,’” the flier read.

The flier goes on to say that offensive costumes incorporate “a long history of prejudice, hate, discrimination, colonialism and slavery,” along with “an important and/or sacred element into fashion.”

But for those who continue to adhere to values of yesteryear, several universities are here to help you understand the reasoning behind their stance on the costumes.

The University of California, Santa Barbara, recently held a Social Justice Workshop to teach students how to spot abusers and appropriators of Halloween costumes.

And Washington State University's Social Justice Peer Educators Group held a similar event called “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” to teach people about “harmful” Halloween costumes, Acculturated reported.

Meanwhile, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, put up posters around campus that read “Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter” (SCREAM), assigning threat levels based on how much different a costume is, in comparison with the student's race.

And a residence hall rector at Notre Dame in Indiana, sent out a memo this week to female students in their hall ahead of a Disney-themed dance, not to dress up as Moana, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan or the princess and the frog.

Other colleges of note, including the University of Utah, Northern Arizona University, Texas A&M, Tufts, Gettysburg College and the University of Florida, have rolled out similar methods to deal with the costumes in question.

Last month, activist parenting blogger Sachi Feris posted that little girls dressing up as the character Elsa from Frozen, should not be doing so, because the character promotes “white beauty.” The post soon went viral and was eventually picked up by Cosmopolitan magazine.

READ MORE: ‘Anne Frank’ Halloween costume branded tasteless in online backlash

But not all fun was lost on Halloween.

Buzzfeed poked fun at RT in a tweet showing two Buzzfeed employees, one dressed as a troll sporting an RT shirt and the other dressed as a bot, in reference to alleged election interference by Russia.

RT responded in good humor, and tweeted out a lighthearted response, which included popular Buzzfeed logos with a headline that read: “BREAKING: SECRET MEETING OF RT FANCLUB EXPOSED!”

Journalist Alexey Kovalev joined in on the fun too.