My Culture is not a Costume event engages the multiple racial cultures at APU


On Oct. 22, the Student Center for Reconciliation and Diversity (SCRD) hosted the annual “My Culture is Not a Costume” event. The event made time for students to gather and celebrate what makes them different, though it also talked about cultural biases which may hinder communal growth.

Mandy Deal, an SCRD program intern, said that the purpose of the event was to educate students about cultural appropriation, especially with Halloween coming up.

“A lot of people’s cultural identities get used as entertainment and we want to educate the student body about how cultural appropriation does not count as cultural appreciation,” said Deal.

As students arrived, they were greeted and moved towards a back area to interact with Azusa Pacific’s ethnic organizations including the Pacific Islanders Organization (PIO), the Latin American Student Association (LASA) and the Black Student Association (BSA), among others.

As students gathered their snacks and finished mingling, they made their way to the seating area to see the first part of the fashion show. 

BSA President Malachi Smith started the event. After a short speech about the history and cause of the event, he invited Petrina Delacey, assistant MC of BSA, to lead the fashion show. 

In the fashion show, students had two different outfits. One outfit was representative of their own culture and the second outfit was something other students see them in every day. One woman walked out wearing an African wax print dress, made from thick cotton, which are worn to communicate the bold and passionate personalities of the woman wearing them. Another woman walked out wearing a dashiki, usually worn as a jumper and meant for formal occasions. 

After these models walked the runway in their traditional wear, they reappeared in casual wear. Models from before came out in their work uniforms, jeans and t-shirts. 

Junior psychology major Jasmine Ramjohn talked about why she modeled in the fashion show.

“I joined the fashion show this year because I was excited to share not only my culture but the culture of others and to be a part of witnessing what their traditional outfits look like,” Ramjohn said.

Ramjohn also shared ways she sees her culture as a costume during the Halloween season and how to combat these incorrect views.

“There’s always the misinterpretation of wanting to be an ‘island girl’ for Halloween or a ‘Hula dancer.’ There’s more to it than just Hawaii. We don’t walk around wearing coconut bras and grass skirts. I think [we need] to separate what’s real and what’s not,” Ramjohn said.

The second half of the fashion show began with traditional dances, music and poetry by the performers. Then the show went back to following its original format with traditional and modern clothing.

As the event ended, Hanae Gonzales, a junior psychology major, shared her thoughts on why it is important to understand where people come from.

“[It is important to know] everyone’s single-story because we all live from our own perspectives,” Gonzales said. “Seeing all of these individuals come up and share themselves is always something beautiful to watch and experience.”