Political MemeS: Design & Production
2014, ICEBUCKET CHALLENGE HACK (visual/video) By Felicia Perez, CSS Associate: “It was the summer of ALS Ice Bucket Challenges all over Facebook and the media. Just days after Mike Brown's murder, folks in Ferguson began to protest in the streets. I live in Reno, Nevada nowhere near Missouri. If I couldn't get there how could I be counted and voice my opposition to police brutality and support for folks organizing locally? With every hour that passed it seemed inevitable that soon someone would challenge me to pour ice over my head for a cause I knew little about, while the cause I cared more for was slowly being eclipsed by celebrities with water. I remembered a tool from CSS as I wrote out my frustrations, it was called fairytales and it had the solution. What if folks hacked the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS and instead it went to an on the ground group in Ferguson, Missouri who was organizing in the streets? The answer is that when that happened, over the course of 3 weeks 200+ folks from across the country and as far away as the UK and Ireland put their hands up with a bucket of ice. These folks spoke up against police brutality and racism in homemade videos and posted them all over the internet. They donated over $10,000 to the Organization for Black Struggle, and they reframed what was newsworthy on social media and they proved that fairytales can come true."
2017, Resistance Bingo (Visual Game) After inauguration day, many moments lifted up the idea of Resistance. But many times this energy came from unexpected corners, creating the sense that resistance really is everywhere. Our own project, #ResistanceBingo, inspired by Super Bowl bingo cards of years past, blew up unexpectedly and drew interest and inspiration in over 40 countries. Those bingo cards echoed a major theme of this year: the refining of “resistance”. From the simple NO to stories about what NO really looks like, and how we’re shifting to YES — organizing, community building, power building for alternatives. Before all was said and done we’d produced the cards in 4 languages, and seen it deployed by small and large groups in multiple countries. But many other moments of unexpected resistance inspired us, like #MisMedidasSon (My measurements are…), in the spectacle of the Miss Peru beauty pageant, with all its shining lights and glitz and glamour in place, but with the contestants replacing the announcement of their body measurements with sobering statistics on the patterns of gender violence in their country. From beginning to end, in 2017, resistance was everywhere.
2018, #AnythingWhileBlack (visual)“Driving While Black” was a meme back in the 90s, a phrase that named structural and interpersonal racism reaching into Black communities’ daily experience by way of traffic stops, with surveillance, violence and incarceration being the common outcomes. #AnythingWhileBlack amplifies that logic, saying plainly what is obvious to anyone that experiences it: this level of scrutiny, judgement, and danger isn’t limited to the driver’s seat. Inspired by the absurd yet all-too-common example of #BBQBetty which went viral in May, Twitter users @smcollier17 and @FormerMsPerez, produced a series of visuals that highlight an absurd and lasting meaning: whiteness is a weapon in all situations, no matter how mundane. Echos and sequels include increased use of the hashtag in sharing news stories, a viral parade of white woman characters (#PermitPatty, #ApartmentPatty, #CornerstoreCaroline, etc.), and the excellent Existing While Black.