Viral Meme: We’re a Culture, Not a Costume

BlogHer Original Post

Racist Halloween costumes are nothing new, and neither are the pleas to stop them. But never underestimate the power of the Internet. This week a series of posters with the tagline “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” has gone viral. The images, featuring a Middle Eastern man, an Asian woman, a Black woman, and a Latino man each holding a photo of a derogatory ethnic costume, were created by a group of ten college students at Ohio University.

Image Credit: STARS, Ohio University

The images, which were originally published on the group president Sarah William’sTumblr and also on the personal blog Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by recent college grad Melissa Sipin, have definitely struck a nerve with people, who have been tweeting, sharing and re-blogging them. Sipin, who is not connected to the student group that created the posters, writes that she just wanted to help spread the message:

When people let these images slide, there’s a perpetual and incorrect prejudice that becomes permeated in American society. It is simply not okay for people to compartmentalize colored communities. This is why I wanted to share these posters on my blog; they have something important to say that strikes a difficult string in people.

Within 24 hours, the post got over 8000 hits. At this time, the post has been viewed over 70,000 times. The campaign been popular on ethnic and feminist websites such as Colorlines, Angry Asian Man, and Feministing, and it’s also received coverage by mainstream media such as CNN.

As with any campaign that strikes a nerve with the public, the “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” meme has also drawn negative commenters and blog posts that claim that costumes that trade on racial stereotypes are all in “good fun”.

Race and Ethnicity Section Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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