A series of thought-provoking posters examining racial and ethic stereotypes are on display this spring at the Kellogg Library at California State University San Marcos.
The exhibit, titled “Beyond the Stereotype,” features San Marcos students tearing photos of various racial and ethnic costume stereotypes with the text, “There is more to me than what you see. Beyond the stereotype, there is history.”
The university said the aim of the project is to educate the public and campus community about cultural appropriation, often defined as the adoption of elements, such as traditional clothing, of one culture by members of a different culture, particularly when the source culture is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited. Because cultural appropriation often enlists the use of stereotypes, part of the aim of the project is to also understand stereotypes and the harm they cause.
Eight posters will be on display featuring different cultural and racial groups. The exhibit will also have an interactive component in which participants may share personal stories of cultural appropriation that they have experienced, watch a rotating loop of related video clips and sign an optional pledge.
“As a female Native American I’ve been called Pocahontas and I’ve frequently seen women dressing up like Indian princesses for Halloween — these representations are not historically accurate or respectful to our culture,” said senior psychology major Maya Goodblanket, a member of the university’s American Indian Student Alliance.
As one of the models in the poster campaign, Maya said that ripping the image of a woman dressed in a sexualized American Indian costume was empowering.
The exhibit runs through May 22. It is free and open to the public during all library hours.
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