Visual Rhetoric – Visual Argument

Visual Rhetoric - unfair-campaign pic 1

In this ad, the first thing we see is a white female with blonde hair and blue eyes, her face smudged with almost careless writing. On further inspection we see that the smudges are words, formed across her brow, her cheeks and the bridge of her nose. Some words are hard to read, but others are bigger and seem accented: “white,” “skin,” “fair,” “unfair,” etc. The sentence reads “Is white skin really fair skin? Something as basic as the color of our skin has shaped our lives. Opened doors. Put us at the head of the line. And that’s Unfair. We don’t experience the daily disadvantages—the looks, the fear, the hassles—that thrive in the unspoken world of white entitlement.” The ad ends with the Unfair logo and a link to their website.

My initial reaction upon seeing this picture is one of confusion, (I don’t know what is being said until I’m forced to read the words) and even then, the lettering seems so careless that I find myself somehow caring less about what it says. (I do, however, find myself leaning as far forward as I can, trying to make out what the words say.) I was then met with more confusion (and at this point, some frustration,) trying to discern what was being said. The kicker is that when it comes to you that this ad is depicting a campaign to acknowledge racism, I’ve already made a decision to dislike it.

While the ads message becomes clear with a bit of mental digging, the message seems to be buying into the very act it seeks to correct. It states that being born “white” is a privilege, and that makes it “unfair.”  In this way, it seeks to blame white people (every white person) for being born with white skin. There was a great controversy surrounding this ad, but the UnFair campaign says on their website “Our community is proud, resilient, strong and filled with disparities.” And goes on to list them. You can view them on their website here: https://unfaircampaign.org . Others claim that the ad is racist…against white people. You can read this viewpoint here: http://www.twincities.com/ci_21007291/umd-drops-support-controversial-anti-racism-campaign

University of Minnesota has since dropped funding for the ad.

What do you think?

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