Halloween & Cultural Appropriation

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We’ve all seen the stories about costumes gone wrong. Costumes that rely on racial and ethnic stereotypes. That trade in blatant racism. That seem to be chosen with no understanding of the cultures and traditions and people they reference.

From Halloween costumes at parties to sports mascots on the field, again and again we’ve seen how one person’s idea of innocent fun is often another person’s idea of flat-out bigotry.

This makes Halloween as good a time as any for your students to explore the increasingly heated debates surrounding cultural appropriation and stereotyping.

Fortunately, there are now lots of good resources available to help your students think critically about cultural appropriation. We especially like this powerful poster campaign from Ohio University, this new poster campaign from Northern Arizona University, and this short video from MTV.

But when it comes to cultural appropriation and playing with stereotypes, there’s more to be done — and Halloween is just the start.

If you’re looking to dig deeper into issues of race, culture, and representation, MEF also has a number of films that speak directly to how stereotypes and cultural myths are created and perpetuated and shape how we see the world. And you have streaming access to these films through your library via Kanopy. Click below on these films to watch:

More Than A Word






Constructing the Terrorist Threat

Latinos Beyond Reel






Reel Bad Arabs