An elementary school in Seattle has cancelled Halloween over concerns that the tradition “marginalizes people of colour.” People of Celtic descent were not consulted about the cultural appropriation.
After five years of deliberation of the school’s annual pumpkin parade, which occurs every Halloween, the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School has decided to completely cut the event. The move comes on the advice of the school’s Racial Equity Team.
According to Seattle-based reporter Jason Rantz, the pumpkin parade traditionally features a procession of children dressed in Halloween costumes. Rantz was told that black students do not celebrate the holiday, and thus felt excluded from the event.
“Historically, the pumpkin parade marginalizes students of colour who do not celebrate the holiday,” said a school spokesperson to Rantz. “Specifically, these students have requested to be isolated on campus while the event took place.”
“In alliance with SPS’s unwavering commitment to students of colour, specifically African American males, the staff is committed to supplanting the pumpkin parade with more inclusive and educational opportunities during the school day,” the spokesperson added.
Instead of celebrating Halloween, students may participate in “autumnal work” or “thematic units of study about the fall.” They may also look to “sharing all the cozy feelings of the season.”
The school announced its decision to cancel Halloween in a newsletter addressed to parents.
“Halloween events create a situation where some students must be excluded for their beliefs, financial status, or life experience,” the newsletter claims. “Costume parties often become an uncomfortable event for many children, and they distract students and staff from learning.”
“Large events create changes in schedules with loud noise levels and crowds. Some students experience over stimulation, while others must deal with complex feelings of exclusion. It’s uncomfortable and upsetting for kids,” the letter continued.
Speaking to Rantz, one of the parents, David Malkin, expressed his frustration at the situation, describing it as an “exercise in affluent white vanity that is wokeism.”
“I don’t see any way in which this actually addresses any inequities to the extent that there are any inequities,” Malkin said. “You know, this just seems like grandstanding on behalf of the principal and the staff who are predominantly white.”
“I hate to see these kinds of things slowly be whittled away and destroyed or being done away with because someone has some, you know, theory in their head that somehow this is exclusionary when, again, it’s quite the opposite,” he added.
Despite complaints from parents unhappy with the decision to remove the “problematic” celebration, the school principal remains adamant that the school made the right call.
“Halloween is a very complex issue for schools,” said principal Stanley Jaskot. “Yes, I agree this event marginalized our students of colour. Several of our students historically opted for an alternate activity in the library while the pumpkin parade took place.”
Efforts to erase traditional and religious holidays from schools comes amid a push to include Critical Race Theory and other forms of “wokeism” in school curricula throughout the United States