St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, will not allow Joshua Sewerynek to dress up as part of a mariachi band because the school deemed it "very offensive" even though it is part of the ninth grader's Colombian culture.
“Although mariachi didn't begin in Colombia, it has become a huge part of their culture," Sewerynek told MRCTV.
"Every year my grandfather still hires a mariachi band to play for his birthday, because he had such fond memories of them when he was back in Bogota,” Sewerynek added.
Sewerynek said that students were told to tweet pictures of their costumes to the school to get approval, but the school tweeted back to him, "Sorry, that costume will not be approved as it very offensive."
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When Sewerynek asked the school to explain since mariachi is part of his culture.
The school tweeted back: "the fact of the matter is, a culture is not a costume. While you may not find it offensive, others may. We have to keep that in mind while approving costumes."
However, Sewerynek never claimed his costume was a "culture," but rather part of his culture.
Sewerynek tweeted a picture of a mariachi band to the school, which tweeted back, "again, while it may not offend others, it is still our school's job to limit this kind of behavior."
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Another Twitter user suggested the school was being "racist" and anti-cultural for not allowing the costume, but the school fired back: “This costume perpetuates that culture can be used as a costume, which is disrespectful and offensive."
However, Quartz noted on Oct. 19 that globalization has made culture appropriation part of everyday life when dressing in normal clothes, which are imported from all over the world.
The "We're a culture, not a costume" campaign was created by ten Ohio University students in 2011 who call themselves Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS), noted ABC News.
STARS posters have been used over the years by numerous schools, including St. Thomas Aquinas on Twitter, as an authority on Halloween costumes.
Sewerynek told MRCTV that he and his friends are still going to dress up as a mariachi band.