The billboards are striking. Splashed across Duluth, Minn., they read “It’s hard to see racism when you’re white.” That message appears over two faces, both white, a blue-eyed woman’s, and a brown-eyed man’s. Named the “Un-Fair Campaign,” the anti-racism initiative launched by community groups in late January calls attention to white privilege and it’s attracted rave reviews and stinging critism.
A 2010 survey of Duluth residents who are mostly white, found that they don’t regard their city as very open to racial and ethnic minorities. A committee of the YWCA worked with a local advertising agency to develop the look of the campaign. It’s on three billboards and in radio and television public service announcements that are in production. The backlash has organized around a Facebook page called STOP Racist Unfair Campaign; by directing the initiative at white people, the page says the ad campaign itself is racist.
Is it? Or do largely white cities like Duluth need to make themselves more aware of their own kind of color-blindness? Do white people enjoy implicit advantages in our society just because they’re white?
Sheryl Boman, partner in the Un-Fair campaign from the Duluth Human Rights commission
Phil Pierson, creator of the Facebook page STOP Racist Unfair Campaign
Ange-Marie Hancock, associate professor of political science at USC and author of "Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics"