“Only you can stop cultural appropriation this Halloween.” That’s the heartfelt message U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson and Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered today from the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
“We’re here today as a diverse multicultural team, united against hurtful stereotypes,” said Wilson. “You don’t have to dress up as a someone from another culture this Halloween. You can have just as much fun dressing up as yourself.”
“In fact, the core message of social justice is that you’re only allowed to dress as yourself,” Warren added. “We can respect each other by reporting people who violate this sacred creed.”
Although it appeared to some onlookers that the two were dressed as the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Warren assured those gathered that “this is who we are.”
“Frederica identifies as a cowgirl,” Warren said. “And wow! Does she know how to rock a cowboy hat or what? I think she has a different one for every day of the year, and there’s nothing wrong with that when you were born on a ranch along the Chisolm Trail.”
The message from these two powerful members of Congress resonated across the fruited plain as universities from Santa Barbara to Southern Indiana held events to celebrate “Culture Not Costumes.”
The University of St. Thomas defines cultural appropriation as “the act of taking intellectual and cultural expressions from a culture that is not your own, without showing that you understand or respect the culture.”
“This year, if your Halloween costume represents a culture that’s not yours, gauge yourself against the Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter,” said Wilson, clothed in a skin-tight polyester jumpsuit that paid homage to Clayton Moore and topped off by a neon yellow Donna Karan cowboy hat.
“As two of the people who govern you, we’d like to end with a warning of peace and understanding,” Warren said. “Be advised that your Halloween threat level might be severe if your costume is from a culture less powerful than yours.”