Elon’s Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education held its second “Culture is not a Costume” campaign to educate students about culturally appropriated costumes before Halloween.
Posters and yard signs with the phrase, “You wear the costume for a night ... I wear the stigma for life” were posted around campus starting the second week of October to promote the campaign. CREDE graduate apprentice and campaign organizer Logan Morral said it is important to avoid cultural appropriation.
“We’re really just trying to partner with more people on campus and just talk about cultural appropriation in general, because cultural appropriation doesn’t just happen at Halloween, but continues to happen the rest of the year,” Morral said.
Students who are part of minority communities on campus are pictured on the campaign’s signs as they hold pictures of culturally appropriated costumes from cultures. Appropriation is to take or make use of something without authority. The students were found through CREDE’s student workers who work on projects like these for the office.
Elon junior, member of the Seminole Tribe and model for the poster representing indigenous Americans Aubee Billie said she wears traditional indigenous clothing on campus to spread awareness of her culture. She said it is also her way of fighting off the discrimination she faced going to predominantly white schools two hours away from the Brighton Reservation in Florida, one of the many Seminole tribes’ reservations.
“I think that us doing this campaign and the CREDE wanting to do this campaign is something that is near and dear to my heart because it’s shedding light on how people perceive things throughout years and years,” Billie said.
CREDE’s DEEP program, which focuses on social justice, seeks to work with different initiatives on campus, such as the Office of Sustainability’s Swap Shop, to spread the message. On Oct. 19, the shop partnered with CREDE to distribute cards explaining the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation.
The Swap Shop educates students to follow its “three P’s:” people, planet, prosperity. While it encourages students to thrift and shop second hand, it also emphasizes the importance of knowing who is making the clothes produced. Sustainability Volunteers Coordinator and senior Lauren Hill said she urges students to support their community by thinking before they wear their Halloween costumes.
“When we think of sustainability, we have to think of the people aspect and something isn’t truly sustainable if you’re not supporting the people who might be affected as well,” Hill said. “When you think about a costume really being sustainable, if it’s not supporting the community around you, then maybe that’s not really sustainable either.”
The CREDE is holding a conversation session about culturally appropriated costumes at noon Oct. 26 in the CREDE office located in Moseley 221.