Anti-Racism Campaign Draws Bitter Reaction

Monday, 13 Feb 2012 06:35 AM

By Greg McDonald

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A racism-awareness campaign in Duluth, Minn., is drawing fire locally and worldwide, as an increasing number of people protest that its message is offensive, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Un-Fair Campaign, which is sponsored in part by the office of Duluth Mayor Don Ness, is using billboards and posters to help create a community dialogue about race.
 
But outraged critics say the campaign ads — featuring the faces of white women with messages like, “It’s hard to see racism when you’re white,” or “Is white skin really fair skin” — blames racism on whites or suggests that whites aren’t smart enough to recognize it.

“You can’t open a discussion on race and hope to see it move in a positive direction when you raise the topic by stereotyping an entire race,” local resident Phil Pierson told the Star-Tribune, after he started a Facebook page to raise his objections called “Stop Racist Unfair Campaign.” 

Pierson, who promotes the idea of civil, community discussion on issues and deplores the white supremacist rhetoric the campaign has drawn, told the Star-Tribune that city officials erred by opening the effort with images and messages that were unsettling to many Duluth residents.

“It spreads animosity and hate, teaches a new generation to point fingers and [focuses] on the color of our skin instead of the idea that we’re all human,” he said.

Ness told the newspaper that he’s heard plenty of “heartfelt” and “thoughtful” objections like Pierson’s. But he worries about the hateful messages and emails that are now coming in from all over the world, including racist websites.

According to the Star-Tribune, one message sent to the mayor from a white supremacist read, “Die Scum Die,” and another from Scotland accused Ness of being a “traitor” to his race and inviting “white genocide.”

“It was disappointing to see the level of hate and ugliness,” he said.

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