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.
In this February, 2012 video comedian, Dave Ackerman puts on black face and proceeds to interview several students at Brigham Young University about Black History Month. BYU, located in Provo, Utah, is a Mormon university where just 0.059% of the student population is African American. First, the students are shown not knowing which month is Black History Month. Then, they are shown knowing very little about any historical black figure other than Martin Luther King, Jr. One student claims to celebrate the month with fried chicken and grape juice, while others claim that some students have “jungle fever” and like to date black people. Female students universally and emphatically agree that they would rather date a “black guy who acts like a white guy” than a “white guy who acts like a black guy.” The video concludes with the students doing impressions of black people. In the end, Ackerman seems to attempt to explain his problematic donning of black face by saying he is “fighting ignorance with ignorance.”
This 2014 video addresses the everyday experiences of “What It’s Like to be Ambiguously Ethnic.” The video shows a diverse range of people talking about issues such as the misunderstandings and confused comments and interactions they experience, people trying to place identity categories onto them that they do not identify with, people assuming you can speak different languages, and having to decide what to do when they experience racial or ethnic microaggressions, or the everyday, often unintentional, marginalizing interactions racial and ethnic minorities frequently experience in the U.S. For example, one man of Japanese, Mexican, and Filipino background described a substitute teacher who was taking roll at the beginning of class and did not believe that he matched his name because of his physical appearance. Another man of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, and Korean background describes a situation when he was walking down the street in Chicago and a woman who was having problems communicating with her Uber driver saw him and asked, “Excuse me sir, can you take this call? This Uber driver, I think he’s Middle Eastern, Arabic. Can you handle this?”
This 2015 video addresses the everyday experiences of adopted and/or mixed raced individuals who look different from their parents or families. The video shows a diverse range of adopted or mixed race people talking about experiences such as the misunderstandings and confused comments they experience, people trying to place identity categories onto them that they do not fully identify with, issues of belonging, what it is like growing up in families where your parents or other family members either do not look like you or have a different heritage than you, and the ongoing development and negotiation of their identities. For example, one of the women describes what it’s like to grow up as a Black woman with White parents and a White brother, a man describes raising mixed race kids and teaching them about race, ethnicity, and their Central American and Indonesian backgrounds, one woman describes her upbringing with Danish and Indian parents, another describes Mexican and Scottish parents, a man describes being adopted from Peru by White parents, and another man describes his Filipino, half Black, and White siblings, all of whom were adopted by their White parents.
White Chicks (2004) is a buddy cop movie written and produced by Marlon and Shawn Wayans, who also star in the film. The plot largely revolves around whiteface drag, as the Wayans brothers, who are African American, play undercover FBI agents disguised as white women. They are going, says the trailer, “where no black man has gone before.” Although the film reviewed extremely poorly, it fared well at the box office has remained popular on broadcast cable.