For Shaunice White, it's pretty clear. Unless you're an American Indian, donning a headdress and war paint for Halloween is shameful. Unless you're a Mexican, putting on a fake mustache and a sombrero is shameful. Unless you're from Polynesia, dressing as a South Seas demigod, complete with darkened skin and tattoos, is shameful.
"It's not a costume, it's a culture," said White, a junior and one of about a dozen students who gathered in a room at Notre Dame of Maryland University Wednesday afternoon to discuss what makes for an inappropriate Halloween costume. "You cannot take a culture, put it into a costume and walk around with it. That's so disrespectful... If it's not your culture, do not dress up."
In recent years, choosing a costume for Halloween has been fraught with potential peril. Sometimes, it's a matter of taste: dressing up as dead celebrities, for instance, could be offensive; so could touching on such hot-button political issues as President Trump's proposed border wall (one online vendor is even offering such a costume) or the crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
But bad taste is one thing, and what constitutes it varies from person to person, region to region. Far more perilous, easier to recognize and mobilize against is the issue of negative cultural appropriation, taking the earmarks of a culture not your own and using - or misusing - them for your own profit or amusement.
(The Baltimore Sun)