University of Colorado Takes Controversial Approach to Addressing Racism

We’ve all heard the adage “fight fire with fire” — now one university is applying this way of thinking to how it confronts racism and prejudice.

Through a new program, the University of Colorado (UC) is posting racist language across campus with the goal of making it disappear. About 500 intentionally offensive posters have been posted around UC’s campus, where 21 percent of students are from minority populations.

Posters make disparaging comments related to race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual identity. One poster reads, “Your mom must be the janitor ‘cause that’s the only job for dirty Mexicans.” While another poster assumes that an Arab student must be a suicide bomber.

“We want students to be uncomfortable,” Judewon Kebede, a senior who helped create the posters, said in a statement.

The posters, all of which were approved and paid for by the university, are based on real incidents that have taken place on campus.

“People need to see the ugliness of it and confront it directly before we can change,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor Bronson Hilliard in a statement.

But some students, faculty, and staff — like university employee Brian Shimamoto — don’t see the logic in this offensive approach, and many of the signs have already been torn down.

“The problem is the people they’re trying to help, some of us felt re-victimized all over again,” he said in a statement.