“My Culture is Not Your Costume” brings attention to cultural appropriation

Multiple photographs of Halloween costumes designed to represent cultural figures were laid out in the lobby of the Tanimura and Antle Family Memorial Library last week for the eye-opening photobooth, “My Culture is Not Your Costume.”

The Otter Cross Cultural Center (OC3) displayed those photos to passerby in order to create a larger discussion about cultural appropriation.

Dozens of pictures were spread out on the OC3’s table, where costumes of Native Americans, mariachi performers and Jamaicans with dreadlocks could be seen.

“People are encouraged to take a picture and post it up somewhere on campus to spread awareness about where the costumes really came from,” said OC3 member Rachel Duran. “Then they can talk about the problems with it.”

Darchelle Burnett, the student coordinator for cultural engagement at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), explained the event started with the combination of the Otter Student Union (OSU) and the Otter Cross Cultural Center, where both organizations worked together to get more CSUMB students engaged with the issue.

Being right before Halloween, the OSU and OC3 hope that individuals will look more closely into where certain costumes originated from.

Tamirah Gallaread was inspired to take the lead on coordinating the photobooth after she and the OC3 team saw similar images on Tumblr and wanted to encourage people to work through the discomfort of discussing cultural appropriation.

“It’s not something everyone wants to talk about, but it’s simply to inform [because] this is right around the time people dress up,” said Gallaread. “Some people came up and told me of cultural appropriations I didn’t even know about.”

The photobooth brought upon many insightful dialogues regarding the high amounts of cultural appropriation during Halloween.

“It was a great start to a big conversation,” said Gallaread.

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