(a call to sensitivity)
In January, I blogged about a billboard campaign in Utah proclaiming that explorer Jim Bridger discovered the Great Salt Lake. I just received the above-pictured announcement from Reagan Outdoor Advertising, who ran the billboards as a test, bragging that “75% of Utah recall seeing the boards.”
I don’t dispute that billboards work for certain objectives. That said, I have three reactions to this specific promotion:
1. “75% of Utah” is just broad enough to make me skeptical. It implies adults, teens, tweens and toddlers. I bet they surveyed only English-speaking adults. If I’m right, then the 75% claim is an instance of statistics abuse.
2. “Recall seeing” is a far cry from “bought as a direct result.” Everyone in my high school recalled seeing the class nerd, but no one went to prom with him.
3. As I noted in January, the Native Americans who had lived near and around the Great Salt Lake for generations might be surprised to learn that Bridger was its discoverer. This is a classic example of Eurocentric and, therefore, racist history at its best. No, I’m not accusing Reagan of racism, only of failure-to-engage-brain, also known as insensitivity. Whoever penned the headline was merely parroting the Eurocentric view expressed in most public school textbooks. What I am suggesting is that the way U.S. history is taught in our school system is in serious need of an overhaul.
Meanwhile, let’s all do our best to remember that white history isn’t all there is to history.