More stories from Jeffry Mateo


This year, Le Moyne College took more action for the My Culture Is Not a Costume campaign, in order to avoid any conflicts at the Halloween dance.

“This year, we sent a campus-wide email asking for students to volunteer in the campaign and also asked the volunteer to select the costume that they felt appropriated their culture,” says Bennie Williams, director of the office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. The efforts made by the school this year have been paying off according to Shadayvia Wallace, program coordinator of the office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.

“The success this year is that many students volunteered and more students are asking about which type of costumes are appropriate and why some may not be,” says Wallace.

The Institution is not only campaigning in the form of a poster, but also having the Resident Advisors engage and educate their residents on the importance of culture appropriation.

“Students can look at the posters and say, I go to class with that person, orthey live across the hall from me. Hopefully that connect will encourage folks to be conscious of inappropriate costumes,” says Williams.

The campaign originated at Ohio University by students in an organization called STARS (Students Teaching About Racism in Society).

“The students created posters to hang around campus. Despite the opposition, the students continued with their efforts. Many schools now adopt this campaign,” says Williams.

The campaign first began at Le Moyne in 2015. According to Williams, the previous year (2014) at the Halloween dance there was an incident where a student decided to be blackface. Blackface is a person who is not Black, painting his/her face and/or body, to appear Black. In other words, transforming a culture into a costume.

The campaign is designed for students to express to the Le Moyne student body that their Culture, Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, White, Native American or any other culture, is not a Costume. The institution wants to make it clear that Halloween is not an excuse for people to dress up in another culture, potentially offending another student.

“I felt in that picture that they just had colors together and wore a flag to say they were Puerto Rican, when my culture is a lot more than that,” says Angela Cotto, an RA in Dablon Hall. She volunteered to be a part of the campaign and believes it is an important and effective way of educating others about different cultures.

“Yes we embrace our food, our music and our culture but I feel like the picture exaggerated the culture,” says Cotto.

Le Moyne continues to spread the word on the campaign throughout and beyond Halloween weekend by sending emails and with advertisements. The campus is trying to reach their goal of not only having the students understand cultural appropriation, but also by not
having to encounter another incident similar to those of previous years.