This Student's Thief Costume Perfectly Symbolizes How White People Borrow Other Cultures

A genius idea!

Although there have been celebrities who have spoken out against cultural misrepresentation, it's always special when that kind of activism comes from a student.

Seventeen-year-old Josh Welch of Maryland was searching for a costume to wear for his school's Culture Day on Monday when he decided to use the opportunity to make a political statement.

"I consider myself a huge advocate for social justice, and I wanted to make a bold statement about 'white culture,' " he told The Huffington Post. "So I decided to use humor to get my point across, but I never imagined it could be this ubiquitous."

The high school senior  — who happens to be White — dressed up as a thief for Culture Day to symbolize how, as he put it, "white people steal everyone else's culture."

Reportedly, the students at Welch's school thought it was funny. He told Mashable that the people at his school loved the costume.

"It far surpassed what little impact I thought it may have," Welch told BuzzFeed. "I love it, spreading humor and awareness at the same time."

Welch posted a photo of his costume to Twitter, where it received more than 58,000 likes as of Thursday.


Welch's costume was a creative way of shedding light on the problems of cultural appropriation, which typically involves the borrowing of cultural ideas from a minority group. There are countless examples of cultural appropriation in entertainment, food, and fashion.

A recent Salon article describes cultural appropriation as a privileged group of people using their power to normalize a cultural element of another group. The problem with cultural appropriation is that minority groups are often stripped of the credit that they deserve.

There are steps that society can follow to ensure that culture appropriation doesn't happen again. The first step is to acknowledge that this is a problem. Then, people must give credit where credit is due instead of borrowing ideas that clearly originated from another culture. Finally, as Welch demonstrated, speaking out against cultural appropriation is a positive step forward that everyone can do.


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.