Cultural appropriation is much bigger than Halloween. Year-round, we often see celebrities profiting off of components of marginalized cultures, getting praised for expressing what actual members of these cultures are ridiculed and even punished for. We see braids and dreadlocks, moccasins, and henna tattoos, for example, turned into fashion statements and trends. There is a fine line between cultural appreciation and appropriation, and with this campaign, we hope to start a campus-wide dialogue about how to discern between the two.
The “It Means More” campaign aims to put an end to cultural appropriation on UMD’s campus. Cultural appropriation is a widespread issue; it extends beyond Native American appropriation. This is why we have created a series of posters, representing other cultures that are often appropriated. We want to let viewers know that our culture means more than just a costume or a fashion statement. Often, appropriated items have deep spiritual and cultural meanings, and they are a part of our values and our lives. We hope that as a result of our campaign, there will be no more culturally themed parties, and no more offensive and racist Halloween costumes. We also hope that our posters inspire viewers to speak up when they see cultural appropriation, educating others on why it is unacceptable. Finally, we hope to see other cultural and religious organizations on campus come together to fight against the common cause in the future.
~American Indian Student Union (AISU)
*This campaign was made possible by a grant from the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.