Culturally Sensitive Halloween Costumes

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With many costumes to choose from in today’s market, selecting one that is culturally sensitive is often far from people’s minds, according to Jon Bouknight.

A costume that is “culturally sensitive” would avoid targeting a specific demographic of people with the intent of ridicule, according to Bouknight, communications professor at Central Oregon Community College.

A culturally sensitive and appropriate costume is “going to be funny or scary, in an enjoyable way, to most of the people who see it,”according to Jon Bouknight, a communications professor at Central Oregon Community College.

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“We like to take the ‘Gremlin’ of our current time, and turn it into a costume,” Bouknight explained.

In recent years this has often come in the form of terrorist costumes. Bouknight explained that while the costume itself might not be offensive, associating it with a specifically Middle Eastern or Islamic look would be.

This does not mean that is inappropriate to dress up as something or someone different, according to Ami Zepnewski, a Japanese teacher at Summit High School. Every year, Zepnewski dresses up as a Sumo Wrestler. Zepnewski believes that offence typically comes when people mix a variety of cultures in their costumes.

Mixing and matching cultural costumes often “promotes” or “inspires” ignorance of a specific culture, according to Zepnewski.

“At least take the time to do the research,” Zepnewski said.

Juli Wright |
The Broadside
(Contact: jwright@cocc.edu)

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