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Monday, January 23, 2012

UnFair Campaign

Dear Members of the UMD Community:

It is with pleasure I announce that UMD has joined with 14 Duluth community organizations as a partner in the UnFair Campaign, a major anti-racism effort focusing on the role white people can play in addressing racial disparities. The UnFair Campaign will raise awareness about white privilege in our community, provide resources for understanding and action, and facilitate dialogue and partnership that result in fundamental, systemic change towards racial justice.

Developed in Duluth, the UnFair Campaign is being officially launched tomorrow at a news conference taking place in Duluth City Hall. I, along with Mayor Don Ness and representatives of other campaign partner organizations, am participating in the news conference.

With the tagline "It's hard to see racism when you're white," the campaign will heighten attention to white privilege and encourage dialogue through posters, billboards, the campaign's website, public workshops, guest speakers, community reads, films, and facilitated discussions. For more information about the initiative and for a list of community events, please visit: http://unfaircampaign.org.

UMD is sponsoring activities on campus. Tim Wise, author of Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and other books, will be on our campus on February 16, for a lecture at 6:00 p.m., in the Kirby Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public and you are encouraged to participate. Also during that day, Mr. Wise will interact with students, faculty, and staff at a series of group conversations.

Another opportunity for you to participate is to attend the film series that kicks off on Monday, January 30, with "Mirrors of Privilege, Making Whiteness Visible." The film will be shown from noon-1:30 p.m., in the Griggs Center. Other films will be shown throughout Spring Semester. For a complete listing and for other events both on and off campus, please visit: http://unfaircampaign.org.

The UnFair Campaign's goals are fundamental to the change we are working to achieve at UMD. Our Strategic Plan provides the framework for realizing a learning and working environment that reflects the values of equity, diversity, and social justice.

The first step is recognizing that racism and inequality exist. It is hard to see racism when one is white because it is difficult to understand the inequality around you when you are not subjected to daily acts of discrimination and intolerance. As the problems are ingrained in the fabric of our society, advancing equity, diversity, and social justice requires persistence and long-term work. I am committed to stay the course and work with you until we reach our goals. I look forward to participating with you in the UnFair Campaign's activities, both on and off campus.

As the UnFair Campaign unfolds, I want to emphasize that actions undermining and damaging a safe, respectful, and diverse campus climate should be reported. There are a variety of people you can go to for assistance. For information and for resources, please consult http://www.d.umn.edu/chancellor/climate/reporting/. You also may bring situations to my attention by sending me an email at chan@d.umn.edu.


Chancellor Lendley (Lynn) Black