How to choose a culturally sensitive Halloween costume

By Melanie Pace | Broadcast Reporter

Baylor students may be legal adults, but they’re not too old for Halloween costumes.

Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, associate professor and director of graduate studies and american studies, said to remember to be culturally sensitive this Halloween.

“Cultural appropriation is borrowing someone else’s culture without giving them credit, or without using it the way it was intended,” Moody-Ramirez said. “It’s theft, it’s like stealing from someone’s culture.”

Dallas senior Hannah Causey, student body president, sent an email to students on Friday with the subject “My Culture is not a Costume.” In the email, she encouraged students to be “thoughtful and appropriate” in selecting Halloween costumes.

Baylor’s Diversity and Inclusion webpage features images of cultural items often appropriated in costumes. Included are pictures of Native American headdresses, Spanish sombreros and West African dashikis. The page also includes a list of five questions to consider to avoid appropriation.

“Now that people know better, the expectation is that they would do better,” Ramirez said. “Sometimes I think people have good intentions, but it just isn’t carried out properly.”

In selecting a costume, Ramirez said to understand its implications. If skin tone or hair has to be changed, it is inappropriate.

“Have fun, it’s still Halloween,” Ramirez said. “There are still many costumes out there that you can wear that would not be cultural appropriation.”