From Daily Mail: Students at a small liberal arts college in Central Pennsylvania are wearing white puzzle piece pins this month to raise awareness of white privilege and its impact on people of color.
The Elizabethtown College Democrats launched a project over the weekend called the ‘Personal Identity Campaign,’ which revolves around the question – ‘How does race affect my life, directly and indirectly.’
The organizers of the campaign, which officially kicked off on campus Saturday evening, say that wearing the white pin will serve as a reminder of the ‘struggles’ associated with racial identity.
Founded in 1899, Elizabethtown College has about 1,800 undergraduate students, of whom 86 per cent are white. The school’s 203-acre campus is stated in Lancaster County, where according to the latest US Census data from 2015, more than 90 per cent of the population is white.
Aileen Ida, president of the College Democrats who is spearheading the white pin campaign, tells Lancaster Online that the goal of the project is to get people to talk openly about race and white privilege.
According to Ida, who is Caucasian, all white people inherently benefit from white privilege, whether they like it or not, but few pause to think about the effect it has on their lives and the lives of minorities around them. Her organization is hoping to change that, one puzzle piece at a time.
‘People of color have to every day wake up and think about race,’ Ida told Local 21 CBS last week. ‘They have to think about how it affects their life, what they have to do for it to not negatively affect their life, and as a white person, we don’t usually have to think about that.’
Ida’s group tweeted on Tuesday that so far, 50 students, alumni and people in the community have made a pledge to wear the puzzle pins for one month. Ida pointed out that the purpose of the pin project is not to malign white people because of the color of their skin, but rather to encourage everyone to reflect on racial identity.
According to the college Democrats’ official Facebook page, the campaign was inspired by Barb Girod, a white Lutheran pastor from Wisconsin, who made a commitment to wear a white puzzle piece pin every day for a year ‘to force herself to think about her white privilege and the impact white privilege has on people of color.’
Not everyone, however, appears to be on board with the project. Facebook user Paul Lewis slammed the campus activists as ‘crazy leftists’ and likened the pins to Nazi-era yellow ‘Jude’ stars. ‘I love being white and am proud of my Italian-American heritage…everyone should be proud of their race and embrace it,’ he wrote in a comment on the group’s page.
Another commenter pointed out that the group has chosen the puzzle piece a symbol of white privilege, even though puzzle pieces are most commonly identified with Autism awareness.