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CSN Panelists Offer Reminder: 'We're A Culture, Not A Costume'

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Casamigos Tequila

Hilary Duff and Jason Walsh attend the Casamigos Halloween Party at a private residence on Oct. 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Walsh's costume caused an uproar.

Insensitive portrayals of ethnic and religious groups by some Halloween revelers have spawned a campus-led movement to remind people that cultural appropriation is no treat.

“We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” is an effort started by students at Ohio University that has spread across the nation.

It aims to combat the thoughtless caricatures and cultural appropriations that are tolerated only on Halloween.

A recent forum at the College of Southern Nevada brought that message to the Las Vegas area as panelists from CSN and UNLV urged students to have fun dressing up while being sensitive to others.

The increasing diversity of American society has heightened awareness of the issue, said Patrick Naranjo, a resource coordinator at UNLV’s Academic Multicultural Center and Tewa tribal member from Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.

"If you are unsure, unaware, or simply just don't understand the violation or offensive gesture, don't do it on Halloween," Naranjo said.

He said costumes such as “Pocahottie,” which portrays a sexualized Native American woman, debase cultures that have already endured centuries of abuse.

Patrick Naranjo, front left, and Eric Pang join participants in a costume fashion show before they took part in a panel discussion at the College of Southern Nevada to encourage cultural sensitivity at Halloween.

Patrick Naranjo, multicultural resource coordinator at UNLV; Eric Pang, library assistant at College of Southern Nevada

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.