Students, faculty raise cultural awareness

As people celebrated Halloween season, students were advised to remain aware of cultural appropriation. This is when someone takes aspects from one culture and uses it without knowing the full history and meaning. Many large costume brands will sell costumes that are offensive to minority groups. Examples of these include, “Native American” or “Mexican,” these focus on stereotypes and do not actually reflect those groups.
“It’s when people take away the meaning behind something and use it for entertainment purposes, which also exploits the culture. This turns it to a social commodity than a value,” said student assistance program coordinator Jenny Andersen.
North’s dress code states that student attire should not interfere with the health or safety of any student, and it should not contribute to a hostile or intimidating atmosphere. It also emphasized that dress code reinforcement will not increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on several factors.
“I believe that our students have sense and will not consciously try and offend any culture, but we have the dress code as a reminder that there will be limitations in the case someone does offend,” said dean Linda Vecchie.
According to Anderson, education is key for avoiding cultural appropriation because students are able to learn about being an ally and certain actions that are considered offensive.
“There are many opportunities for teachers to bring up culture. It can be in any subject and does not have to be tied into curriculum; think about instances in English, math, family and consumer sciences, and in history. These opportunities can be vital for students to learn to remain aware and become better citizens,” Andersen said.
Knights Way member senior Sachin Dubey explains how in pop culture where cultural appropriation may be seen as cool and why it shouldn’t be considered.
“Some celebrities, like Katy Perry, have repeatedly exploited aspects of some cultures in her music videos. It’s frustrating because her fan base may ignore it, but people from those communities have asked her to stop and learn, but she won’t,” Dubey said.
On the flip side, there is cultural appreciation. Andersen explains why it’s vital how when students from certain communities will want to share their culture.
“As someone who is not Native American, it would be inappropriate for me to have certain objects because I’m not a part of that culture. But last year, a student who was Native American gave me a dream catcher, and I have learned to appreciate it because I was able to learn,” Andersen said.
Dubey also encourages that students share their cultures and experiences.
“By doing so, we are able to learn more and experience more as people,” Dubey said.