Students discuss cultural appropriation

Groups host panel, discuss issues with insensitive costumes



Students speak about how some Halloween costumes are examples of cultural appropriation, and not appropriate to wear for Halloween, on Wednesday evening at the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

The Native American Women’s Association held a panel to address cultural appropriation in collaboration with La Hermandad De O eMe Te.

Jaissa Grunlose, fourth-year marketing major with an indigenous studies minor, said the goal is to bring awareness to the WSU community about how cultural appropriation affects multicultural communities.

Grunlose said the organization wanted people to get more comfortable and stand up for others when they see instances of cultural appropriation.

“Halloween is a difficult time for natives because costumes and our culture is something people are dressed up as,” she said.

It’s important to address the issue because cultural appropriation has real consequences, and it hurts a lot of people, she said.

The sexualization of native women leads to costumes, which leads to the dehumanization and to the terrible statistics of missing and murdered Indigeneous women, Grunlose said.

“Native women are murdered at higher rates and I think cultural appropriation is one reason for that,” she said.

It’s important for people to take the time to learn the history behind different traditions and cultures so they can understand why cultures shouldn’t be worn as a costume, Grunlose said.

Maria Arteaga, senior anthropology and Spanish double major, said people who belong to the culture being appropriated will continue to go through all the challenges.

It’s not well intended if someone is appropriating someone else’s culture, she said. It also makes people seem uneducated, Arteaga said.

“I can say I’m Mexican, and I’m not bothered by this but one person cannot represent an entire culture,” she said.

Dominick Joseph, junior strategic communications major, said cultural appropriation is something people should not do even if they are a person of color.

Kamapolani Garcia, sophomore elementary education major, said celebrities should not be given a pass on cultural appropriation either.

People should not be afraid to speak up even if it is their friends. Not correcting people does not fix the problem, Garcia said.

Kaitlin Srader, junior sociology major, said WSU students are not very aware of cultural appropriation and the surrounding issues.

Srader said it was upsetting to see a person wearing a headdress out on Greek Row last year.

“If you’re appropriating, you can take the costume off at the end of the day but the person in these cultural communities, they can’t take off the police brutality, racial profiling, and the generational trauma,” she said.