With a tagline that reads, “It’s hard to see racism when you’re White,” the University of Wisconsin Duluth-Superior‘s Un-fair Campaign is forcing Whites of Duluth, Minn., to reconsider their White privilege once again, and their latest campaign has some crying foul. Why? Because it features Whites wearing a number of grievances allegedly shared by minorities…on their faces.
“Is White Skin Really Fair Skin?” and “Society Was Set Up For Us” are just some of the messages being featured across a number of White men and women’s faces, and even though the university is feeling the heat for their in-your-face campaign, they reportedly refuse to back down in a statement they reportedly released last week:
UW-Superior and the other community partners played a pivotal role in helping to reshape the message in ways that center the message on racism and disparities caused by racism, without alienating any single group in the process.
The Un-Fair Campaign launched last January with a number of controversial billboards with the Un-Fair slogans displayed around Duluth. The Campaign was started because members believed that the educational and economic disparities in their area proved that institutional racism was at work.
On the Un-Fair Campaign’s website they state their mission clearly:
Our community is proud, resilient, strong and filled with disparities. Duluth School District data for 2010 shows that 80% of white students graduate in four years compared to 34% of Native American students and 25% of African American students. 2010 census data for Duluth shows that 18% of whites live in poverty compared to 67% of Blacks and 56% of Native Americans.
Recent data from St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services shows that a person living in one specific area of Duluth can expect to live 11 years longer than a person living in another specific area of Duluth. These statistics should be of concern to every one of us.
How is our community going to prosper and grow if such disparities exist? How can we accept such inequality?
Not surprisingly, the Un-Fair Campaign was met with harsh criticism from many of Duluth’s residents who felt that the campaign and their messages were “offensive” and unfairly blaming them for all of society’s racism.
Critics also said that the University is not only the sole sponsor of the campaign but that they are teaching these controversial messages to students to which the University responded:
Some misleading reports about this campaign have suggested UW-Superior is the sole sponsor. In fact, the campus is part of a coalition of 16 third-party community sponsors. That coalition includes a wide range of education, civic, religious, and service organizations. Other media accounts have implied that the UW-Superior used its classrooms and faculty to formally instruct students about the campaign. That too is false.
Undeterred, the Un-Fair Campaign says that they will continue to get their anti-racial favoritism message out there with their newest campaign, “Racism: Ignore It And It Won’t Go Away.”