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‘You have to have meaningful dialogue’: School district encourages cultural sensitivity this Halloween

Posted at 6:35 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 08:40:31-04

HOLLAND, Mich. — Halloween is just a few days away and Holland Public Schools is hoping that it’ll be enjoyable for all of their students who choose to celebrate it.

So, the school’s Director of Equity and Inclusion Taran McZee wrote an article that’s encouraging students to be culturally sensitive with their costumes this year.

“If they have to question themselves about the costume, don’t do it,” said McZee during an interview with FOX 17 on Thursday afternoon. “If you’re going to question ‘Should I wear this cop suit?' or 'Should I wear this sombrero?' or 'Should I wear the Indian feather?’ If you’re questioning, I say don’t do it. That would be my advice: Don’t do it at all.”

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It’s the type of honest questions he hopes students will ask themselves when picking out a costume this year, he said, because sometimes costumes can be harmful.

“You can easily be Superman, He-Man, the Power Rangers; you know, it’s so many other characters that you can be or who you can be. Why mock somebody’s culture?” McZee said. “I’ve seen it where people have mocked Trayvon Martin. I’ve seen it where people have mocked Native Americans or they’ve mocked Hispanic cultures. And, I think it’s healthy to have that conversation with students.”

Prior to joining Holland Public Schools in March of this year, McZee spent 17 years in higher education, emphasizing diversity, equity and inclusion as a director and in other roles. He believes having honest conversations is what leads to understanding.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion, you have to have meaningful dialogue. For me, this was a creative way to have dialogue for students that were in elementary, middle and high school,” McZee said about the article. “It was a creative way to have that conversation and again talk about Halloween. Let’s talk about costumes.”

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