“we’re a culture not a costume”

These posters were created as part of an educational campaign initiated in 2011 by Students Teaching About Racism in Society, a group of Ohio University students. The campaign, called ‘We’re a Culture, Not a Costume,’ centered on critiquing the practice of wearing racist Halloween costumes, after the Ohio University students witnessed a fellow student wearing black face to a party. The campaign speaks to the larger context of racist Halloween parties and costumes, which have spurred protests and discussions on university campuses and beyond. The Ohio University students used media to preemptively encourage others to be thoughtful about the connections between costumes, stereotypes, and identity.


What message does this Ohio University campaign send through their posters? Do you think it is effective? Why or why not?

Have you ever worn a Halloween costume where you dressed as someone from a different cultural background? Do you think it may have offended anyone? Why or why not? Would you do things differently now?

Have you ever been offended by a Halloween costume you have seen someone else wear? How did you handle that situation?

What is cultural appropriation? How is it different from cultural exchange or appreciation?

Do you think it is possible to wear a costume of someone from a different background in a way that is respectful? Does it matter who you are and what your background is? In what way?

How did this campaign allow the Ohio University students to use media to assert their own identity? Are there ways you could use media to do something similar?

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