November 1, 2017 Dia De Los Muertos
Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a Mexican Holiday celebrated around Halloween. In the 1960s the Mexican government had the Aztec festival declared a National Holiday. In the Aztec Mythology Mictecacihuatl is the Goddess or Lady of the Dead. She and her husband rule the Underworld—similar to the Greek Hades and Persephone. The Lady of the Dead was born mortal and sacrificed as an infant. Now she watches over the bones of the dead. Each year goods are offered to the dead ancestors, including toys for the little children who have died. Families decorate graves. Pictures of La Calavera Catrina and Sugar Skull candy are also a part of the festival. Recently, Calavera decorations have become popular. I’ve seen them on clothing and in Halloween make-up. The question is: Are Calaveras Cultural Appropriation?
Cultural Appropriation or misappropriation is a modern form of Colonialism. For example, elements of Hispanic or Latin Culture are borrowed and assimilated into mainstream American Culture. Essentially, this would be White Anglo-Saxon girls dress and Latina girls. Cultural Appropriation is also sports teams using Native American names and symbols. Many people from these Indigenous roots are highly offended and feel as if their culture has been stolen from them. It is no longer special or unique to their people and their history.
There are many instances where I can see how fashion, festivals and other events may be offensive. Other times, I feel like everyone is overreacting. Someone pointed out that it is usually a matter of intention. Respecting, honoring or celebrating another culture is a good thing. However, if someone who is blatantly racist borrows or steals an element of culture that they openly mock, then yes, it is more than a little offensive and just plain wrong.
There is a thing going around facebook warning parents not to let their girl dress as Moana because it is Cultural Appropriation. I don’t remember anyone getting upset at Princess Jasmine, Pocahontas or Princess Tiana. And what about Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty? Should Non-Caucasian girls avoid them? Disney is American and World Culture. They are already once removed from anything indigenous. Does that mean they shouldn’t try to be all-inclusive or multicultural? Moana and others were added because people complained the Princesses were all white. I say if it is wrong to dress as Moana, it should be wrong to dress as Snow White as well.