Live Your Most Beautiful Life
For the 2011 Halloween season, Ohio University's STAR organization (Students Teaching Against Racism) started a viral poster campaign that hit social media with a force. The campaign was designed to draw attention to the trend of wearing someone's race or a stereotype of one's race as a costume. The pictures feature OU students of various racial backgrounds holding pictures of white students wearing their respective racial stereotype. The pictures read: We're a culture, not a costume," and then "This is not who I am, and this is not okay."
Sarah Williams, the president of STAR, was amazed by the response and is happy that the campaign became a hot topic in mainstream discourse. Universities around the country (e.g., Columbia University) are interested in replicating and using the campaign's images as well, indicating the extreme effectiveness of a campaign with a simple, yet strong message.
Despite the effectiveness of the campaign, there are people out there that find it amusing and think that the campaign is simply an outward manifestation of extreme sensitivity to race. Consider this response, where someone took the campaign and turned it into a joke:
This image was obviously created to poke fun at STAR's campaign, representing the feelings of an unfortunately large segment of America's population that minorities are simply too sensitive. In their opinion, all racial and ethnic groups need to "get over themselves" and stop being so obsessed with their identities. In my opinion, it is very to feel this way when you have never spent one day treated as "the other." A minority looking at an outward stereotyped manifestation of their "otherness" looking right back at them is not only strange, but is downright offensive.
Since the inception of the campaign, people have questioned: what type of costume is taking it too far? Is a white woman wearing an afro and a 70's costume taking it too far? Is a white man wearing a dreadlocks wig and wearing Jamaica's flag colors taking it too far? In my opinion, if you have to ask if you are taking it too far, then you probably are. Ask yourself: Could someone reasonably be offended by this costume? If the answer is yes, don't wear it. Clearly, the guy (or girl) who made the Avatar poster to the left failed to get that message in STAR's campaign.
-Written by: Cafe Belle's Society and Culture Barista