“Is white skin really ‘fair’ skin?” For one Minnesota University, the answer appears to be a resounding no. The University of Minnesota-Duluth’s “Un-Fair Campaign” intends to raise awareness about white privilege in the community by providing resources and facilitating dialogue that results in systemic changes. Their tagline: “It’s hard to see racism when you’re white.”
As the fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth hosts a startling 90 percent white population, which makes the argument about white privilege seem quite appropriate in one of America’s least diversified cities—Duluth harbors one of the darkest and most monumental moments in Minnesota history when three black circus workers were publically lynched by a white mob on June 15th, 1920.
By challenging concepts of privilege and oppression, the campaign has received waves of criticism. Many felt the campaign was demanding that white people should feel guilty about the privileges they receive from the color of their skin. The campaign’s series of posters, which include faces of nameless, everyday white people splattered with ink-drawn statements about their obvious, yet unspoken “white benefits,” are causing controversy and distaste.
“You don’t see my color before you see my face.
“We’re lucky that it’s easier to get a job, a bank loan, and approval in general.”
The main objective behind the anti-racism campaign is to undermine the idea of white privilege and make non-minorities more aware of racial justice and inequalities. But are the university’s claims accurate? Is it harder to see racism when you’re white? Many Duluth residents who are opposed to the campaign don’t think so. Some people believe it spreads a message of hate, focuses too much on skin color and pinpoints Caucasians for being insensitive or naïve when it comes to issues of race.
Despite the criticism, campaign members only want to “challenge the white monoculture.” The “Unfair Campaign” and similar organizations continue to challenge the way people unconsciously think about and approach race in their daily lives. Can this campaign really change one small town? Or will the privileges of some continue to outweigh the detriments of others?
What do you think about this campaign’s approach? Will it succeed?