Happy Halloween!

As you are aware​ from Dean Sandstrom’s email from earlier this month​, ​the holiday can present some challenges with costumes and cultural appropriation​​​.​ P​​​lease read the following information as something to think about with Halloween parties scheduled throughout the weekend.

If you are planning a costume, it’s worth noticing the ways in which costumes can be harmful if they mock or caricature a culture. Before you put on someone else’s culture as a costume or as a joke, think about how your costume might be experienced by someone from that culture, especially if individuals from the culture have been subject to racism or discrimination.

For “A Short Guide to Cultural Appropriation,” click on the attachment (it was developed by Rhon Manigault-Bryant, ​Associate Dean of the Faculty, ​Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty ​Affiliate in Religion). An excerpt:

Cultural appropriation is an aspect of human exchange that refers to the taking of someone else’s culture (expressions, dress, intellectual property, artifacts, knowledge, art forms, etc.) without “permission.” Cultural appropriation is very tricky to navigate as there are fine lines between attributing “ownership,” showing one’s appreciation for, and mocking or parodying another culture. The stakes are also heightened when aspects of culture are taken from minority groups or groups that have traditionally been oppressed or marginalized, and, as a result, those who take, borrow, or ‘exploit’ those aspects of culture benefit from them in terms of capital, power, prestige, and popularity. This benefit often occurs at the expense of the very group from which aspects of culture were appropriated.

Don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions​; ​staff at the Davis Center, Dean’s Office, Chaplains’ Office and Office of Student Life are all happy to help.

Wishing you a good, safe, and fun Halloween weekend.​ (And be sure to visit OSL on the 2nd floor of Paresky on Monday – we’ll have lots of treats to share!)​


Douglas J.B. Schiazza
Office of Student Life * Williams College
pronouns: he/him/his

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