School administrators in British Columbia are trying to fight racism by posting a series of white-shaming posters on school walls, in an effort to educate students on the evils of “white privilege.”
The posters, based on a similar billboard campaign mounted last summer in Saskatoon, bear messages encouraging students to “confront racism” and to not “be blind to the invisible system I am a part of.”
Caucasian people, the campaign suggests, even if not racists themselves, still benefit from “white privilege,” and thus apparently need to atone for the inherent injustice of race.
“I have unfairly benefited from the colour of my skin,” declares Superintendent of Schools Teresa Downs in one poster. “White privilege is not acceptable.”
Rather than play down the importance of race in favor of common humanity, Ms. Downs and her comrades-in-arms believe it is critical for students and citizens to become not less but more race-conscious. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of “a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” is apparently not shared by the good folks of School District 74.
Not by the academic authorities, anyway.
School officials reportedly made the mistake of initiating the poster campaign without informing students’ parents, which has provoked backlash among families who don’t believe it is a sin to be born white.
One parent of mixed-race children, Kansas Field Allen, took issue with the poster crusade and posted photos of the posters on social media, which generated a flurry of comments, mostly critical of the “white privilege” campaign.
Some complained of the “blatant indoctrination” of students, while others expressed their consternation over an unwillingness to focus on common humanity rather than racial divides. “Shouldn’t we work on being inclusive rather than exclusive?” a typical comment read.
“I’d say 95 per cent of the people are in favour of having the posters taken down, and that’s from all races,” Field Allen said.
In January, the posters were hung in every school in the district in January, reportedly with the agreement of school principals.
“We do understand that this is a discussion about race and privilege, and it can make some people uncomfortable,” Downs said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome