Have you picked out your costume for Halloween this year? Before you do, our guest writer Claudio Hernandez would like to encourage you to take a second look at the costumes lining our shelves this year. *Claudio is a 2011 graduate of the Just Communities CommUnity Leadership Institute (CLI).
"On Halloween night we see many costumes - some cute, some horrific. Sometimes the horror in those outfits lies in the racism and sexism they tap into.
Culturally appropriative or racist outfits are those that stereotypically mimic the styles and appearance of marginalized cultures. Those who wear them often say it is a "celebration" of that culture, but in reality, it is an insult. Mexican people are stereotypically portrayed wearing ponchos, cheesy mustaches, and sombreros while riding on donkeys. Black people are portrayed in blackface, which has a racist history in the ridicule of black people in minstrel performances. During Halloween and heading into Thanksgiving, Native/Indigenous
cultures are degraded when feather headdresses and makeshift weaponry are used out of context, with no regard for their sacred nature and no knowledge of the tradition they come out of. Behind all of these types of costumes is a very condescending lie and stereotypical assumptions of what these cultures are in their entirety. These costumes are like slurs; they reduce the value of the group the costume is targeting.
Another issue during Halloween is the sexist costume expectations placed on women, and the resulting prejudice or even violation by others for wearing such an outfit. Stores are filled with racy and revealing options, but if a woman decides to dress as a "sexy nurse," she is often disrespected for having worn "too little." If someone wishes to dress in a revealing or non-revealing costume, so be it. People have the right to dress up (or down) as they desire. No matter what a person chooses to wear on Halloween, their costume is not an automatic sign for harassment, especially when society limits the availability and choice in costumes based on gender.
Making a costume out of a group that faces oppression makes a mockery of the oppression they face. Disrespecting an individual because of what they are wearing is senseless. As we plan for fun with family and friends this Halloween, let's remember to celebrate in ways that promote dignity and respect for everyone."
Claudio Hernandez CLI graduate, 2011
What Are You For Halloween This Year?
Tips, tricks, and questions to ask when selecting your costume this year
Halloween provides a great opportunity to remember and reflect about why it is not a good idea to wear costumes that mimic or make fun of targeted and oppressed people. In most cases, people do not intend to offend, but our choices can have unintended consequences that can be painful and harmful to others. To avoid this from happening, it is helpful to ask yourself these questions when considering your costume choices:
* For a funny costume: Is the humor based on "making fun" of real people, human traits or cultures?
* For a historical costume: If this costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural inaccuracies?
* For a 'cultural' costume: Does this costume reduce cultural differences to jokes or stereotypes?
* And finally: Could someone take offense with your costume and why?
Families Engaged at Bilingual Back to School Nights
It was a victory for everything we love at Just Communities: language access, family engagement, youth empowerment, and school-community collaboration. 246 Student Interpreters assisted with language access for Spanish-speaking parents at Back to School Nights during August and September.
Originally conceived by United Parents-Padres Unidos (UPPU) and in partnership with Just Communities and the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the Back to School Night Language Access Project ensures educators and parents communicate across language barriers during assemblies and classroom visits at Back to School Nights. These events are a crucial opportunity to spark the teacher-parent collaboration that research shows has a major impact on student success.
For the second year in a row, Just Communities provided the training component, with Viviana Marsano, José Saleta, Alan Goff, and Alena Marie working together to facilitate trainings in basic interpretation skills for students and workshops for educators about how to create inclusive multilingual environments. A team of Language Justice Network members aided interpretation at Santa Barbara High School.
Viviana and José, who work with Voices Interpretation and Translation in addition to their involvement with Just Communities, worked overtime translating nearly 100 syllabi to ensure that all written materials given to parents at Dos Pueblos High School were provided in Spanish and English.
Parents, students, and teachers are excited because they recognize the power of interpretation and translation to transform their ability to work together.
One principal said, "Making this available the way it was allowed us to reach our parent audience in a way that we never have really been able to do before. I hope we can continue to offer this!"