Tips for Halloween – Appropriation vs. Appreciation

You know what time it is! It’s time for a reminder not to be a jerk-o-lantern this Halloween. Here are some tips on how not to Halloween this year. 

Prioritize relationship, engagement and consent 

The line between appropriation and appreciation lies in relationship and consent. If you are engaged with the people of a particular culture, that relational knowledge should help you understand the nuance of what is considered appreciative vs. appropriative. 

If you don’t engage with a community in a meaningful way via relationality, it’s best to avoid using elements of their culture.

Culture is not a costume

Halloween costumes often create a humorous or exaggerated caricature of people/characters. When you choose to make a caricature of someone else’s culture you risk mocking or disrespecting that culture in the process.

Skin colour is not a costume 

Impersonating racialized people by darkening your skin colour is not a costume–it’s a statement of ignorance and disrespect. Period.

Consider the historical context between cultures

It’s important to recognize the power dynamics at play and the history between cultures. If you are a settler and you decide to make a costume out of specific Indigenous cultural elements, consider the history between settlers and Indigenous Peoples.

Halloween can be a painful reminder to Indigenous Peoples of historic and ongoing dehumanization at the hands of settler colonialism. Remember impact over intent. 

Halloween is not the time to “appreciate” culture 

Halloween is play and play can cross a line when it disrespects the boundaries of those being impersonated, especially if they are from a historically marginalized group. 

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