If Spain’s post office was trying to get a stamp of approval from the masses, in the struggle for success, it got licked.
For those unaware, May marked European Diversity Month.
From the official website:
We need to create inclusive environments where employees can be themselves, where they are valued for their differences and everyone’s talents are fully used. Although promoting diversity and creating inclusive workplaces is an ongoing work, participating in the European Diversity Month this May is a fantastic opportunity to make your efforts visible. … The European Diversity Month is an important initiative to support the European Commission’s long-lasting commitment to fight discrimination and promote diverse and inclusive workplaces.
In that spirit, Spain’s state-owned postal service — the Correos España — issued four stamps to celebrate equality.
The stickers — each devoted to a particular color of skin — were deemed “Equality Stamps.”
Patrons could pick between peach, a sort of mocha, brown, and what looks to be pitch black:
New "Equality Stamps" from Spain. Great idea…https://t.co/xMQ7iHfGEX
— Mark Jochim (@MarkJochim) May 28, 2021
But a curious decision was made.
The Equality Stamps were priced differently.
The most expensive color: the lightest.
In other words, the stamp denoting the darkest shade of skin was the most worthless.
In a sense, the move wasn’t wholly out of place: We live in a world where words sometimes mean their opposites.
Case in point: As I covered previously, in the name of inclusion, Nature Magazine’s looking for a summer intern.
To meet its inclusive goal, it’s excluding all races but one.
Similarly, in the promotion of equality, the Correos España is making four shades all unequal.
The world hasn’t appeared impressed:
New stamps from Spain’s postal service that were intended to condemn racism have backfired: The stamps were issued in skin tones — the lighter the shade, the more valuable the stamp — and set off waves of criticism. https://t.co/nTy0scNN41
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 28, 2021
— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) May 29, 2021
Spain’s skin-colored ‘Equality Stamps’ get unexpected scorn https://t.co/prJB37mHr5
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) May 28, 2021
“The message is an absolute disaster”: A new campaign by Spain’s postal service aimed at condemning racism produced a series of stamps in skin tones — the lighter the shade, the more valuable the stamp. https://t.co/TwqffgSsfk
— Abdi Latif Dahir (@Lattif) May 29, 2021
Nonetheless, as it turns out, the different pricing wasn’t an oversight.
Via Twitter, Correos España explained…
En Correos creemos que el valor de una persona no debería tener color, por eso lanzamos #EqualityStamps: una colección de sellos en la que cuanto más oscuro sea el color del sello, menor valor tendrá. Reflejando así una injusta y dolorosa realidad que no debería existir.
— Correos (@Correos) May 25, 2021
We believe that a person’s value should not have color in the post, so we launch #EqualityStamps: A collection of stamps in which the darker the color of the stamp, the lower the value it will have. Thus reflecting an unjust and painful reality that should not exist.
Meanwhile, Moha Gerehou — former president of SOS Racismo (Racism) Madrid — called the campaign “an insurmountable contradiction.”
“At the end of the day, an anti-racism campaign has put out a clearly racist message.”
And the head of Spain’s governmental Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, Antumi Toasijé, has some advice: Stop selling the stamps.
As noted by The Associated Press, Antumi tweeted an inarguable truth:
“A campaign that outrages those it claims to defend is always a mistake.”
So it goes in a culture of contradiction.
Spain’s post office went to bat for equality by selling inequality; I’d call it a swing and a miss.
Symbolism and messaging is tricky business.
Perhaps Correos España will have better luck with a stamp that fights sexism.
After all, in that case, they’ll be stickin’ it to the mail.
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