Controversial phrase generates confusion for anti-racism campaign
Published Monday, November 8, 2010 5:55PM MST
One of the strategies in a city-wide campaign aimed at stopping racism is generating a lot of criticism.
A single line on the campaign's website is coming under fire. People who log onto the website are asked to acknowledge their "white privilege". The phrase, which is based on published work on inclusion by an American scholar, is aimed at prompting people who are white to reflect on some of the advantages they may have in society simply because of the colour of their skin.
But some say the phrase has no place in the city's "Racism Free Edmonton" campaign, launched last week.
"I don't think any one race has any more of a privilege or anything like that," said Kevin Wohlmuth when he was approached by CTV News for his reaction to the phrase.
It's kind of an awkward statement to have up there if you're campaigning to stop racism," said Neal Cameron.
Edmonton city councillors have differing opinions on whether the line belongs in the campaign.
Councillor Kim Krushell said she was pretty shocked when she saw the phrase.
"I think positive messaging is a much better approach than implying something negative right off the bat," Krushell said.
But Councillor Ben Henderson said he doesn't mind the approach because the statement makes people think.
"The idea is to challenge all of our preconceptions," Henderson said. "I don't think we move forward unless you challenge preconceptions."
Councillor Amarjeet Sohi, who helped launch the campaign, admitted the wording doesn't quite capture the message organizers are trying to convey.
"We need to broaden it," Sohi told CTV News. "I think we will broaden it."
In the meantime, Sohi said he hopes the controversy doesn't overshadow Edmonton's fight against racial intolerance.
CTV News attempted to reach officials with Racism Free Edmonton and the city's office of diversity and inclusion but our calls were not returned.
With files from CTV's Bill Fortier.