Affinity Groups Create "Culture is Not Costume" Posters

For several years, Burke's has asked families to avoid harmful cultural stereotypes in Halloween costumes. In 2018, some students took those efforts a step further.

Several Upper School Affinity Groups — specifically, the Asian/Pacific Islander and Black Heritage groups — compiled images of disrespectful yet common Halloween costumes and used them to create a series of posters that went up in the Upper School hallway. The statements "We're a culture, NOT a costume" and "This is a stereotype. It is NOT who I am" accompanied images of revelers in blackface and meaningful clothing from across the globe to create strong messages for the entire Burke's community.

"During the A.P.I. Affinity Group meetings, students discussed why they chose these images, stating that they were 'upsetting,' or 'offensive' because they played into stereotypes about various Asian and Pacific Islander cultures," says Michelle Reyes, Upper School Science Support Specialist and advisor to the Asian/Pacific Islander Affinity Group. "In many cases, they were crudely based off of traditional garb that has strong cultural meaning and that by creating a poor approximation, it detracted from their significance."
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Katherine Delmar Burke School

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