University hangs race posters for MLK Day

As part of MLK Day, Indiana University’s Unity Summit organizers hung up white guilt posters in the residence halls on campus.

The poster read, “as a member of the majority race, I feel..” Similar posters were provided for minority students.

A student confirmed to CRO that he saw multiple posters around campus but says they have been taken down.

Indiana University (IU) hung up posters in the residence halls across campus last week, where students could comment on how they felt “as a member of a majority race.”

Jacob Barber, a junior theater major, posted a picture of the poster online, which reads “Write your mind. As a member of the majority race, I feel…”

Barber told Campus Reform in an email, that he found the poster in the Teter Residence Hall’s common area, along with another poster for minority students with similar content but he did not obtain a picture.

“I was a little disappointed to see the posters. They push a racial narrative that doesn't build bridges and, as I saw in the responses, seemed only to foster a sense of guilt in people based on the color of their skin,” Barber told Campus Reform. “I will concede that it touched closer to actual issues by being phrased as majority and minority race (as I feel most "privileges" in any country will be derived more from the status as a majority than an inherent biological trait), but I did not feel it stimulated a healthy conversation.”

There were a variety of student responses on the poster, including one that read, “I was born white and I get the privileges I feel everyone deserves.”

“Use the power of the majority to help to the minority,” wrote another student.

“Spoiled, and grateful for everything in my life,” wrote a third.

"I'm sorry for what we did," said another.

Barber told Campus Reform that the posters were created and distributed by the Unity Summit, an annual Indiana University event organized by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, along with a coalition of student organizations. Barber claims he saw many of these posters in the residence halls across campus.

“While I can admire the Unity Summit's attempts to begin discussions about race, fostering racial divides is quite the opposite of what Martin Luther King, Jr. worked for,” Barber told Campus Reform. “Instead of casting aside racial differences and cooperating to improve the situations around us, too often we squabble and seek to place blame over incredibly inconsequential issues.”

According to the university’s website, the Unity Summit works in conjunction with the university’s Martin Luther King Day celebrations and has been organizing annual events for nearly a decade. The Unity Summit won “UI Program of the Year” back in 2010 by the Commission on Multicultural Understanding.

The Unity Summit hosts around 300 people and aims to “address issues of diversity, discrimination, and advocacy in small group, facilitated discussions.”

“At their core, the posters divide students by their race (white or non-white),” Barber told Campus Reform. “While the posters themselves might not be all that polarizing, they're indicative of a larger issue of pushing racial narratives on campus. I've noticed it starting to grow in recent months.”

“This idea of creating a victim role for people of minority races and painting white people as a vague but menacing oppressor. It hampers any actual progress and harbors resentment that sets us back further each day,” continued Barber.

Barber told Campus Reform that the posters have since been taken down.

Neither the Unity Summit nor the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publishing.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO