On Saturday Nov. 2, families were invited to partake in a screening of Pixar’s “Coco,” sip hot chocolate, and enjoy face painting, among other activities. Surreptitiously presented as a “Fall Fest,” Kirkland Urban blatantly misappropriated the sacred celebration and traditions of Dia de los Muertos, which is neither a celebration of the changing season nor a “Mexican version of Halloween.”
As a person of Mexican heritage, the borrowing and exotification of my culture’s traditions is offensive. Looking at their Facebook event photo, which features two white children whose faces have been painted like calaveras (skulls), is infuriating and in poor taste.
After contacting them by Facebook message to bring this misappropriation to their attention, the only response I received was dismissive and stated, “Our events are meant to be a time for families to enjoy time together and celebrate every culture. Every child will have the opportunity to celebrate and find an inclusive environment at Kirkland Urban.”
In other words, Kirkland Urban is perfectly comfortable misappropriating from other cultures and does not find it necessary to partner with organizations (e.g., El Centro de la Raza) that would better represent and share their culture and educate residents about their traditions. Moreover, if they truly wished to include all cultures that have celebrations during the fall months, they are committing a greater disservice by not recognizing Diwali, which is celebrated by significantly more of Kirkland’s residents.
In short, Kirkland Urban is not concerned with how their misappropriation of other cultures is, at the least, a disservice to Kirkland residents and, at most, extremely offensive to members belonging to the culture they appropriate from.