Good intentions gone wrong. That is what Spain’s state postal service, Correos, is facing after the launch of “Equality Stamps.”
The stamps were part of a campaign ostensibly meant to combat racism, and they were to debut with different monetary values. The lighter the skin tone, the higher the price of the stamp.
The stamps scheduled to be released on the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd were part of European Diversity Month but intense backlash caused Spain’s state-owned postal service to abort the campaign just three days after its launch.
Four skin-toned colors of the stamps were priced as follows, the lightest €1.60 in euros, a slightly darker at €1.50, brown €0.80, and black €0.70. The lightest stamp coming in at 90 cents more than the darkest stamp, sparking immediate condemnation on social media.
As part of #EuropeanDiversityMonth, and coinciding with the first anniversary of the murder of #GeorgeFloyd, we are launching #EqualityStamps: A series of stamps that aims to shine a light on racial inequality and promote diversity, inclusion and equal rights. pic.twitter.com/eSStZ0GrBw
— Correos (@Correos) May 25, 2021
Correos explained the discrepancies in value:
“When making a shipment, it will be necessary to use more black stamps than white ones. That way, each letter and each shipment will become a reflection of the inequality created by racism.”
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
The campaign was quickly met with backlash as people across Spain criticized the stamps for sending the wrong message.
Spanish activist, rapper, and spokesperson for the campaign, Domingo Edjang Moreno – known as El Chojin – defended the stamps saying they “reflect an unfair and painful reality that shouldn’t be allowed” and “every letter or parcel sent with them would send a message against racial inequality”.
Antumi Toasijé, a historian who chairs the government’s Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination called on Correos to end the campaign, tweeting “A campaign that infuriates those it is trying to defend is always a mistake. ”
Toasijé added, “When it comes to the fight against racism, irony, double meanings and ‘This needs to be talked about even if it’s wrong’ don’t help. We can all make mistakes, but it’s time to fix this one.”
Moha Gerehou, a 28-year-old Spanish author and a former president of SOS Racismo Madrid, said that the stamps were “an insurmountable contradiction,” calling out Correos for employing an anti-racism campaign with a “clearly racist message”.
Last June, Correos launched a successful campaign in honor of Pride month that featured special stamps and rainbow-painted delivery trucks and mailboxes.
However, his campaign did not see the same success.
Correos announced yesterday that it would end its “Equality Stamp” campaign. A spokesman for Correos told CNN he “will not make comments” about the criticism the campaign received.
“It’s not like that,” the spokesman told the network when asked if the decision was in response the negative reactions.
“Correos is an anti-racist company,” said the spokesman.
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