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Is the UMD “white privilege” ad campaign racist?

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The University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) is sponsoring a bold new advertising campaign aimed at achieving racial justice by raising awareness of “white privilege.” But is this campaign a positive measure? Or just as racist as the issues it claims to highlight?

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It may have been a campaign that was ill-advised and counterproductive, but there IS a startling lack of self-awareness among white about their relative (and significant) privilege as a group and often as individuals. I used to suffer from it myself. I've seen over 16 years with a black wife and two biracial kids just how much privilege I never even noticed. How much I take for granted still and took for granted in the past.

The issue shouldn't be guilting whites...but they do need reminders, somehow, because it isn't sinking in in a lot of ways.

Too many people think there is equal opportunity and fair treatment and that racism is dead. But looking at the rates of arrests of non-whites, non-white profiling and harsher punishments for crimes by non-whites, the stats bear out in that area alone (and we could discuss employment and housing as well if you like) that the playing field is FAR from level.

Change does come through awareness. When we are aware some people aren't treated fairly, we can begin to chisel away at that more and more as individuals...white or otherwise. How to make that awareness happen without a sledgehammer is the big question.


I don't think the ads are terribly effective. But racist? Bullshit. Anti white hate speech? Bull-fucking-shit. This is what always happens when someone tries to talk about how deeply entrenched and toxic racism is in American culture. Some one starts up with "But what about the white people?"


Just ran across this today, LuckyLune, and I think it serves as a nice bit of support to what you're saying (and me, too, really):



The fact that people feel guilty when their privilege is pointed out to them isn't "hate speech" whether we are talking about race, gender, sexual orientation or anything else. Pointing out another person's privilege isn't about blame. It is about understanding the experiences of others. "Epistemic privilege" is the "privilege" that marginalized groups have to see a situation from multiple viewpoints - someone in an "othered" role not only sees the world through their own perspective, but MUST see the world through the majority perspective as well, if they want to survive in the world. This isn't required in the roles where a person has majority privilege.

This is the point - we are talking about roles and experiences... not people. No one is BLAMING you for anything just because we are asking you to recognize the ways in which NOT being oppressed in a given situation affects you differently than it might affects someone else who has a different set of privileges.

There are not a whole lot of people in the world who have absolutely no privilege whatsoever. We all have experiences where we are judged to be more (worthy, reliable, beautiful, strong, healthy, wealthy, intelligent, blah blah blah blah blah blah, on and on) than someone else, based not on our ACTUAL ABILITIES, but on someone else's perception. There is no BLAME in this!

No one is asking you to feel guilty. If you choose to feel guilty, that says a heck of a lot more about you than the ad campaign.


As to the purpose of the campaign... I suggest you actually check out the rest of the website. It has some amazing resources for people who are interested in being an ally and recognizing how privilege acts on their own life.



Awareness is what the campaign is about, not "guilt." If someone gets "guilt" when someone mentions White Privilege, my guess would be they have a reason to feel..... guilty. Not all white people feel guilty, but those who don't are usually quite aware of their privilege and how it impacts them and others.

White Privilege is alive and well, simply not wanting it to be pointed out doesn't equal hate. It only equals the desire for people to be aware.

It also shows me there are a LOT of racist and/or angry people who comment on this particular issue on YouTube. For the Record, YouTube comments are not where I go to get information, news or enlightenment.


claiming that this campaign is racist is ridiculous. of course it's not racist; it tries to point out how easily white people take their white privilege for granted and don't examine it or take into account how it impacts their lives. it's an issue it's important to address, and this campaign at least tries to do so. it's only offensive to white people who get hurt when it's pointed out that their whiteness accords them privileges other people don't get.


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