Our view: Pay attention to anti-racism campaign, even if it’s uncomfortableA campaign that launches today will be bold, aggressive, in-your-face — and a major turnoff to much of Duluth.
A campaign that launches today will be bold, aggressive, in-your-face — and a major turnoff to much of Duluth.
“It’s hard to see racism when you’re white.” That’s a central message the anti-racism Un-Fair Campaign will be working hard to get across, beginning with at least seven months of events, billboards, a website, public service announcements, media splashes and other initiatives. Its 15 partner organizations have scheduled a kickoff news conference today with a proclamation of support from Mayor Don Ness.
“The purpose of the campaign is to open a dialogue,” the campaign’s Ellen O’Neill told the News Tribune, including members of the editorial board, late last week. “How do we move forward as a community to eliminate racism?”
The reality is we don’t move forward if Duluth’s overwhelmingly white majority doesn’t get involved. And the white majority won’t get involved if it doesn’t see there’s a problem and doesn’t recognize its own “white privilege,” those advantages it receives, often without even being aware of them, because of skin color.
The campaign has been in the works since summer. Hundreds of Duluthians have been consulted or are involved, some because they’ve been concerned about the Duluth school district’s achievement gap or about two high-profile incidents of racism in recent years at the University of Minnesota Duluth. In addition, community members have been working with Duluth police to create a citizens review board while others have been digging into the possible reasons behind the disproportionate number of juveniles of color in detention.
The issue is out there — if we choose to see it. The Un-Fair Campaign will work to make sure we do. All of us. It’ll be uncomfortable at times. But that’ll be all the more reason to pay attention and to listen.