San Marcos,
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CSUSM Poster Campaign Celebrates Diversity, Seeks to End Cultural Appropriation

By Margaret Chantung

A new series of thought provoking posters will be on display this spring at the Kellogg Library at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), exploring contemporary issues of cultural appropriation and social justice. The exhibit, titled “Beyond the Stereotype,” features CSUSM 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 CSUSM California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center and Dr. Joely Proudfit are the co-creators of the Beyond the Stereotype poster campaign, which were the product of a yearlong collaboration between various University entities and student organizations, including the Office of Diversity, Student Life & Leadership, the Civility Campaign, the Public Relations Club, the American Indian Student Alliance, several interdisciplinary classes and student research projects.

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.

“It’s also our goal to inspire and educate students to assume leadership roles in their workplaces and communities after graduation,” said Associate Vice President for Educational Equity and Inclusion Arturo Ocampo. “Our 21st century world is highly diverse and requires individuals who are open to diverse perspectives, have the skills and cultural proficiency to deal with difference and the ability to communicate cross-culturally.”

A total of eight posters will be on display featuring different cultural/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 CSUSM’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.

“Bringing awareness to cultural appropriation and stereotypes is very important to me. As a descendent of Chief Black Kettle, I’m proud of my culture—I’m proud of what we stand for, who we are and what we have overcome.”

“Diversity matters at Cal State San Marcos,” said CSUSM President Karen Haynes. “Our commitment to diversity is reflected in our University vision and strategic priorities, and we’re proud that, today, our student population mirrors the demographic richness of our region. This engaging poster campaign—the work of so many—serves to foster conversations and reflections on diversity, power and privilege in our society.”

An opening reception, free and open to the public, will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Kellogg Library Reading Room. Please RSVP to Complimentary parking for the opening reception is available on the sixth floor of the parking structure.

The exhibit will run through Friday, May 22, 2015 and is open during all Library hours.