Being mindful on Halloween, respecting each other

October 29, 2021

Headshot of Daymyen Layne

Daymyen Layne, director of multicultural education and training at Quinnipiac, encourages students to educate themselves on cultural appropriation and to critically think about their actions.

Cultural appropriation is the borrowing of aspects of a specific culture without the understanding of the culture, appreciation for it, or respect for the deeper meaning of the cultural practices being used, Layne said.

Culture includes language, clothes, spiritual practices, food practices and other aspects of daily living. An example of cultural appropriation is the donning of headdresses during skits or events. Headdresses and other ceremonial clothes have a deep meaning to indigenous populations and should not be used for costumes or jokes, he said.

“We are trying to build a more mindful and just society,” Layne said. “To do that I want to challenge students to think a little deeper. Think about the impacts of their actions.”

When choosing a costume, it is important to do research and educate yourself on what is appreciation and what is appropriation.

 “There is a fine line between appreciation and appropriation and the line is defined by education,” he said.

Individuals are responsible for their own choices and to avoid accidentally being offensive to other cultures it is very important to educate yourself on the cultures of the world. Indigenous costumes, religious-based costumes, costumes depicting sacred items or practices and costumes that change skin color should be avoided, he said.

“Halloween should be fun and I don’t want to lose that, but people and their culture should not be made fun of at the expense of others' fun,” Layne said.

It is important to start a conversation before making assumptions about someone, he said. At first glance, you cannot tell a person's cultural background or ancestry. Sparking conversation can lead to education and a common understanding among one another.

“Cancel culture comes from the lack of civil discourse because the necessary conversations never happen,” Layne said.

Cancel culture has a place in society, but if used wrong, it can be dangerous to social progress, Layne said.

With social media there is an expectation for instant gratification, often leading to immediate impacts on someone's life once someone is offended. Without any conversations occurring to discover contextual backgrounds assumptions are made. Take time to step back and consider all sides to a story before you act, Layne urged.

“Your opinions are not fact and we need to recognize that,” Layne said.

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