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By Cirse Mendoza, Chicago Math and Science Academy

We’re finally on the fourth week of October, and everyone’s excitement for Halloween just keeps building up! While some children (and teens) decide to go trick-or-treating, others decide to party with friends. Whatever you choose to do this Halloween (if you celebrate it), it’s important to remember this one very important thing: Cultures are not costumes! Yes, you’ve probably heard this before (and if you have not, well there you go). But it’s important that you remind yourself and others.

Dressing up is all fun and games until you insult a whole community. Minorities have been oppressed for the longest of time and still are. It’s all too common to see people dressing up as a ‘sexy’ native Americans or  mariachi bands, or  wearing a ‘Mexican donkey suit’ or a kimono. Some even go as far as wearing blackface makeup in their costumes. This is in no way, shape, or form OK. This only further dehumanizes minorities. There is nothing funny about belittling someone’s culture and traditions to a simple costume that one wears It’s to look ‘cute’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘funny’.

And those who cry “I’m only showing my appreciation for the culture!” need to step back and reevaluate what appreciating really means. If one really appreciates something, one will spend their time learning, understanding, respecting, (!!) and doing everything is their power to protect it. Making a culture, ethnicity, and race a costume is the opposite of what some claim to be appreciation. Yes, cultures are beautiful to see and learn about, but reducing them to nothing but a piece of cloth as a way to gain applause from other oblivious people is not the way to go about it.

If people don’t stop themselves and others from wearing cultures as costumes, there will constantly be a feeling present in some people that tells them it’s OK to belittle a community. Ignorance is not bliss, and it should not be tolerated by anyone.

Something as simple as telling yourself and your friends that cultures are not costumes can contribute to the fight against systematic oppression of minorities. So for this upcoming 2016 Halloween and all the ones to follow, please check yourself and the people around you. Make sure you aren’t insulting a community who has been and is going through a hard time already.

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