Multi-Culti cultural appropriation

December 2, 2018

Fall: The season riddled with pumpkins, leaves and cultural appropriation.

Every year when Halloween comes around, people spark up the same conversation of cultural appropriation and how offensive it is to people of those cultures. In the fall at Community, we have a second opportunity to be offensive and to appropriate a culture: Multi-Culti. Multi-Culti is a school-wide celebration the day before Thanksgiving break. Each forum selects a culture, holiday or tradition to educate themselves and eventually others about.

The catch? Year after year some forum appropriates or misrepresents a culture.

The Levin forum in 2017 attempted to celebrate Diwali and generalized the North and South of India’s differing traditions. Two years prior, when it was expected to chose a real culture, the McGraw forum celebrated “Movie Night.” These forums are not alone, many fo- rums over the years have done this.

In only a few of these cases, the forum has come forward, recognized their mistake and apologized; but, it is not solely their fault.

In years prior, forums only began to plan and start talking about Multi-Culti a mere week or two prior to the actual event. This did not give nearly enough time for a forum to fully educate themselves on a holiday or tradition, let alone an entire culture. To make up for the lack of time, many forums began to default to a culture that a member of their forum identified them- self with, thus singling them out — arguably worse than being unprepared.

We as a Communicator staff believe singling out a student and/or appropriating a culture is unacceptable and needs to end immediately.

In recent years, Forum Council and Dean Marci Tuzinsky have taken strides to make Multi- Culti as respectful and enjoyable as possible. Students and teachers have gone back and forth about what needs to change and improve with the day; they hope they have come to the perfect middle ground this year.

Forum Council, like in 2017, began preparing and setting the guidelines for forums in late October, hoping to eliminate any lacking preparations. In recent years, they have also narrowed what is being considered an acceptable theme for a forum, from exclusively a culture to now either an aspect of a culture, a holiday/celebration or an object’s history.

In the past, the definition of a culture has left groups feeling belittled, ignored and disrespected. As a staff, we believe that by adding a larger variety to options, it helps the issue but does not solve it entirely.

Despite the changes and attempts, about half of the Communicator staff anticipate this year that Multi-Culti will present at least one appropriated culture. This is concerning. If the students anticipate wrongdoings, then the guidelines are flawed. Going into the day falling before Thanksgiving break, students should not have to worry if a forum is misrepresenting your culture two doors down.

The Communicator staff strongly believes than Multi-Culti has had a flawed past and is now heading in the right direction, but we are no- where close to where we need to be.

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