'White privilege' anti-racism posters anger parents at Canadian schools

Greg Evans
Saturday 10 March 2018 11:30
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Picture:(Gold Trail School District)

Schools in an area of Canada have come under fire for running a controversial anti-racism campaign.

Several posters have been hung up in schools across the Gold Trail District of British Columbia, which aim to raise awareness of white privilege.

The posters, which were put on display in January, show various staff members from the district, including the superintendent Teresa Downs, standing next to quotes which attempt to highlight why the colour of one person's skin might give them an advantage over someone else.

The poster featuring Downs contains the quote:

I have unfairly benefited from the colour of my skin.

White privilege is not acceptable. 

However, some feel that the message of the posters is a little misguided, as it singles out one racial group and has caused some children to feel shame.

One mother from a mixed race family, and whose children attend a school in the region, shared images of the posters on Facebook and asked for fellow parents thoughts.

Kansas Field Allen, whose husband is Aboriginal, is quoted by CTV News as saying:

Racism is alive out there and our kids do need to learn about it, but they need to learn about it at an age-appropriate level and they don't need to learn about one race over another.

Let's talk to the students and see if we can do this in a better way, a more accepting way.

In response, Downs believes that the posters and the campaign are part of a continued effort to raise awareness of racism and privilege among students in the area, and that her quote was reflective of her own experiences.

We understand that the discussion of race and privilege can make some people feel uncomfortable,

But we are also mindful in this district that we cannot have a wholesome conversation about racism without acknowledging that racism results in some groups being privileged.

While the posters are said to have been inspired by a similar scheme carried out in Saskatoon last year, the conversation surrounding these images has divided opinion online.

CTV News adds that opposition to the posters has mostly come from parents who have struggled with the concept of privilege and that students have responded thoughtfully to the subject with some even adding their own 'got privilege?' posters to the campaign.

However, it appears that a major complaint is that parents were never included or consulted about the campaign. This is something that the schools are hoping to address personally, rather than on social media.

Downs is quoted by CBC as saying:

We really think the one-on-one, face-to-face dialogue is what is best around such a complex issue and matter.

We do understand that this is a discussion about race and privilege, and it can make some people uncomfortable.

The Gold Trails District is located in a rural part of Canada and serves roughly 1,100 students, 60 per cent of which identify as having an Indigenous ancestry.

HT Radio NL, CBC, CTV News

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