UMD drops support for Un-Fair Campaign

A week after University of Minnesota Duluth's chancellor said the school wouldn't pull out of the controversial Un-Fair Campaign, UMD has done just that.


A week after University of Minnesota Duluth's chancellor said the school wouldn't pull out of the controversial Un-Fair Campaign, UMD has done just that.

A news release from the University's main campus late Tuesday afternoon said UMD had "indefinitely suspended" its membership in the campaign "pending a change in the campaign's emphasis and creative approach."

June 25, UMD Chancellor Lynn Black objected to a new video released as part of the 6-month old campaign, which is aimed at promoting racial equality by calling attention to white privilege. The video, shown at , depicted white people with phrases such as "We're privileged: People see us, not a color."

Black said several people complained to UMD and the University of Minnesota after seeing inaccurate reports that UMD paid for the campaign and produced the video. But at the time he said UMD wasn't withdrawing from the partnership.

"We're still very much committed to the goals of the campaign and to the foundation the campaign is built on," he said then.


But the news release on Tuesday said the focus of the public service announcement was divisive and had "alienated some UMD alumni, supporters and others in the broader community."

It also said the video had been pulled from the campaign's website at Black's request.

A university spokesman said Black would have no comment beyond the news release.

Representatives of all 18 partners in the Un-Fair Campaign met on Monday. "They reaffirmed the group's fundamental goals to promote racial equality and create a constructive dialogue about eliminating racism," the news release said. But they also recognized "the messaging and creative emphasis has been divisive."

A subcommittee was formed to re-evaluate the campaign, and the partners will meet July 17 to discuss whether to change the creative direction, the news release said.

The campaign was designed by SwimCreative, a Duluth advertising agency.

In addition to UMD, the campaign's 18 partners include the city of Duluth, Community Action Duluth, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the YWCA, Central Labor Body and Lake Superior College. None of the other partners has indicated it was pulling out of the campaign.

Although this is the first time an organization has suspended involvement in the Un-Fair Campaign, it has been controversial virtually since Jan. 24, when it was launched with the slogan, "It's hard to see racism when you're white."


Within a week, some residents had started a Facebook page called "Stop racist unfair campaign."

The campaign's billboards were attributed as the reason the Supreme White Alliance staged a rally on March 3 at the Civic Center.

Just last week, someone defaced one of the billboards with a painting of a Confederate flag and a racial slur.

Tuesday's statement from UMD said the university "continues to advance its strategic goal of creating a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity and social justice."

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