Latino Student Union addressed cultural appropriation at a meeting Wednesday night, called “Dia de Los Muertos: Our Culture, Not Your Costume.” The meeting aimed to educate students and faculty about the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.
This event was a response to an incident that occurred on campus last fall where members of Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) dressed as Latino gang members and posted a picture on social media with the caption, “Your culture IS my costume #CholoGang.” The incident offended several members of the Latinx community and was addressed by the university. Although the issue was resolved, LSU still believed more could be done to prevent it from happening again.
“We know that the university took the opportunity to take care of things on the logistical side and legal side of what needed to be done in regards of the students, but in regards to our community we wanted to take advantage of addressing it … so we wanted to talk about it and not act like it didn’t happen,” LSU President Xavi Boes, said.
The event explained the concept of cultural appropriation and how may be used on Halloween as a way for people to insult other cultures that they are not apart of. LSU explains how offensive certain costumes can be when people are not informed. They further explained how people’s ignorance and lack of knowledge could negatively affect an entire community. LSU emphasized how cultural appropriation is not a substitute for diversity, as well as how people need to understand a costume they wear for one night, is a stigma that others wear for life.
“If nothing else I want people to stop and think because context is everything and I think it’s very important to think why am I doing what I'm doing, why am I making the selections that I'm making. Is it to honor a heritage or is it just to dress up because it’s cool … there’s a big difference between the two,” LSU advisor and Director of Multicultural Affairs Ana Brown, said.
Many students attended this event and participated in open discussions around cultural appropriation, as well as cultural appreciation. Students from other organizations, such as the Black Student Union, Curly Connection, Interfraternity Council, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority were there in support of the Latinx community. Many felt that cultural appropriation is an issue and that events like these are important in order to help make a change.
“We’re human, we make mistakes and sometimes we’re not going to know everything that we do wrong and if it offends other people, so going to events like this to learn different things and making sure you’re up to date with respecting other people. … I think that’s important,” LSU Vice President Alexis Ray said.