White Guys Finish First…on University Catalog Cover

By Elaine Magliaro

Maureen Downey of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote yesterday about a reader who had sent her a copy of the cover of the new University of North Georgia continuing education catalog along with the following question: “Are they crazy?” Downey thought the reader’s question was a valid one “given the awkwardness of the image and its pairing with a headline that asks, ‘Why follow when you can lead?’”

Jessica Roy of New York Magazine also wrote an article about the image published on the university’s catalog cover titled University Catalogue Cover Accidentally Becomes Perfect Metaphor for America.

Crooks and Liars’ article on the same subject asked the question: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Look at the picture–reportedly a stock photo–that the university selected for its catalog cover. What do you think?


Downey said that she asked the University of North Georgia about the cover on its continuing education catalog. Here is how Kate Maine, Associate Vice President of University Relations, responded:

We are aware of the reaction to the image you noted. After looking into the issue, we determined that this is an isolated case of poor judgment, and was not intentional. However, the image was not representative of UNG’s commitment to diversity, and this will serve as an opportunity for increased dialogue about diversity issues and we expect that to better inform our processes and publications.

The image has been removed from the department’s website and social media pages, and the catalog will be reprinted before further distribution. Additionally, we have taken steps to provide for broader review of publications like this to ensure they fully meet institutional expectations and reflect our community and our values.

Crooks and Liars took to using a little sarcasm in its article:

Alarming or expected?

The University of North Georgia says it was an “isolated case of poor judgment.” Well, maybe they honestly think that it was — or suddenly realized they should stop letting partially blind Uncle Bubba pick out the catalog pictures.

Or maybe they’re just reminding us how cool things can be without troublesome stuff like the Emancipation Proclamation or Title IX. Everyone else gets away with that attitude. Why shouldn’t we?



Joyful white guys finish ahead of struggling woman and black man in this university’s catalog (Raw Story)

White guys win again. Was this college catalog cover a loser? (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

University Catalogue Cover Accidentally Becomes Perfect Metaphor for America (New York Magazine)

What’s Wrong With This Picture? (Crooks and Liars)

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28 Responses to White Guys Finish First…on University Catalog Cover

  1. bron98 says:

    if the black guy was shown winning people would call that racist because we all know blacks are faster than whites. Or if the woman won people would be saying the university was pandering to women.

    If they had 4 white guys, it would be racist, 4 women would be misogynistic, etc., I think we see what we want to see.

    Maybe in north Georgia white males don’t go to college as much as blacks and females. maybe they are saying if you want to beat/compete with blacks and women in the job market you better get a college education.

    Maybe the guy that won is LBGT?

  2. Elaine M. says:

    UNG catalog cover raises furor, viral debate over diversity
    University alters cover image on website after reaction

    A Google image search shows the full stock image used in multiple publications across the nation. That full image includes another white man and woman in the middle of the pack of runners on the far right side.

    Photos inside the catalog show a wide variety of men and women of various ethnicities in various roles. Foot races were a theme of the catalog, and men and women dressed in business attire at a start line are depicted in more images inside.

    The publication is now available on the Division of Professional and Continuing Education website with a new cover of a compass and an “Inside this Edition” list.

    Maine said the university will ensure cover art of future publications is a better reflection of UNG.

  3. From Think Progress:

    In comments defending a proposed voter ID law, Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R) suggested that racism is over, so opponents should no longer be “using the race card.” She then used an offensive racial term common in the 1960s to describe an African American colleague.

    She went on to say that Assemblyman Harvey Munford (D) was the first “…colored man to graduate from his high school.”

    For the record, Ms. Fiore is the same person who said cancer is a fungus that can be “washed out.”

    She is certainly in the running for America’s Dumbest Legislator, but the competition is tough, considering Rep. Louie Gohmert is still in office.

  4. blouise says:

    Ever been involved in a catalog creation project? I have … many times. The cover is of uber importance as it invites the viewer to open the catalog. Almost every department that contributes to the catalog is given input on cover selection.

    ” … we determined that this is an isolated case of poor judgment …” is pure bullshit. There was nothing “isolated” about it. They were appealing to the poor white guy who wants to believe that his failure to achieve greatness has nothing to do with his own lackluster abilities and performance but rather to the years of unfair advantage given to women and blacks.

    Pay UNG enough money and they will provide you with the continuing education to beat women and blacks to the finish line.

    The white guy was their targeted consumer, probably because he’s dumb enough to buy their product.

  5. Elaine M. says:


    The black gentleman is falling behind because he’s tired from working two jobs to pay his tuition…and the woman has a handicap–she’s running a race in high heels.


    Remember this quote?

    “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels”

  6. swarthmoremom says:

    It looks like two white guys won. It is representative of corporate America.

  7. bron98 says:

    I guess the stupid poem I used to see in the bathroom in the engineering building 35 years ago is still true:

    Yellow is mellow
    Tan is grand
    Black is beautiful
    But white is [still] the color of the big boss man

  8. blouise17 says:

    Truism … Women work; men make deals.

  9. bettykath says:

    It’s too bad that no one at UNG could see what folks here see…… or maybe they did. 😦

  10. pete says:

    It’s North Georgia. I’m surprised that the white guys aren’t chasing the black guy.

  11. Mike Spindell says:

    With White privilege I’m sure the people who chose the image did so unconsciously and are chagrined that any negative intent would be imputed to their choice. That’s the thing with “post racial” America, people are unable to admit to themselves their own inherent racism. I’m sure that those calling Obama a Dictator, a Kenyan, a communist and a fascist feel that they are doing so purely out of their political sensibilities.Just as someone Chuck mentioned talked again of the “race card”. Were it the political rhetoric of some cynic the use of the term “race card” could be dismissed as mere demagoguery, but I fear the meaning conveyed is far more sinister and that meaning is tat racism still flourishes in this country.

    Now adding to this discussion, I think it is necessary to say that I don’t view this from some lofty perch of purity. I grew up White in this society and although from childhood was taught by my parents that racism was bad, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced racist attitudes within my own psyche through my own life. I remember one night about 10:00pm riding downtown on a NYC Subway line, with only a few of Black youths in the car with me. They were dressed casually in hoodies and as young men do they were kidding around with each other. My “street sense” kicked in and I found myself on guard and wondering how quickly the next stop would arrive. Then someone casually remarked to another that is was so tiring taking the train from Brooklyn to Columbia (University) every day. I recognized my own stereotyping had gone into effect. Perhaps the difference between me and others in White America, is that I’m self aware enough to understand that which lurks in my own psyche, while many are not.

    Now there are some who would read the above and counter with; “Well Mike doesn’t that prove the point that many people of color feel the same way towards White folks and so none of that is racism?” My answer would be that they no doubt feel that way, but their feelings are justified by long experience and facts.

  12. “My answer would be that they no doubt feel that way, but their feelings are justified by long experience and facts.”

    I’m going to disagree, Mike. No matter whom it is from or how “justified” it is, racism is simply stupid from an ethical and scientific perspective. “Race” is an arbitrary social construct that science has long ago proven a meaningless distinction genetically speaking.

    • Mike Spindell says:

      “I’m going to disagree, Mike. No matter whom it is from or how “justified” it is, racism is simply stupid from an ethical and scientific perspective. “Race” is an arbitrary social construct that science has long ago proven a meaningless distinction genetically speaking.”

      Perhaps I made my point ineptly, but I’m going to stick to it, but rephrase what I meant for clarity:
      The long experience and history of Black people in America has been one of oppression, to put it mildly. The healthy reaction to ones oppressors should be resentment and distrust. Otherwise you would have a group suffering the “Stockholm Syndrome”. Some Whites may see that anger, hatred and distrust as reverse racism, I see it as good common sense and necessary to allow people to stop hating themselves for being oppressed.

  13. In other words, “understandable” isn’t the same thing as “justified”. Nothing just about racism regardless of source or target.

  14. bettykath says:

    There is a difference between color bias and racism that is institutionalized by financial institutions, police forces, corporations, economic development, etc. Color bias is a widespread reaction to the “other” that is unlike ourselves, similar to culture, disfigurement, different speech (accents, idioms, etc). Bias can be overcome by familiarity. Institutional racism is another thing altogether.

  15. bron98 says:

    my wife used to teach in the alternative education program, she taught high school English. one day she was having a conversation with an Hispanic student who was upset that white people would cross the street when he walked by, he said they must think I am a gangster or something. my wife pointed to his tattoos and asked if he was in a gang. he said yes and she said you are a gangster. He said oh. Maybe sometimes it isn’t racism but self preservation. How is someone to know which person with tattoos is an artist and which is a thug?

    If I was black, I would walk across the street if I saw a white guy and was in a town which had a large population of Aryan nation members. That doesn’t make me a racist.

  16. bk,

    I’m not so sure cultural bias can always be overcome by familiarity. Being based in ideas about what comprises a given culture, cultural bias can actually have a basis in valid reason (unlike most other forms of bias which are inherently irrational). For example, in some cultures it is acceptable to have child brides where in Western culture such a notion fell out of favor long ago and for good reason. The same can be said of many cultural traditions. Every society has some really bad ideas when it comes to “civilized” behavior. I do mean every society, ours included. Even then, the scale of “worse” has a relative component.

    The only tool I’ve ever seen that can triage them is objective reasoning couched in some kind of cost/benefit analysis. Even then, societies are complex systems. Changing variables can have unintended consequences. That being said, however, does not mean we should refrain from seeking better systems out of fear of the unintended or fear of change itself. “We’ve always done it that way” is a very weak argument in support of systems value.

  17. B.,

    What you are describing is as much a cultural bias as racism. See the above comment to bettykath.

  18. bron98 says:

    When I see white people who look like meth addicts, I cross the street or move away from them. When I see people of any color acting in a strange manner, I move away from them.

    When I see white people who look like cast members on Son’s of Anarchy, I stay away from them and do not interact with them. It is a good thing that the majority of violent criminals who run on the streets don’t dress in suits and ties like they used to. People let their guard down around a guy in a suit wearing glasses no matter what color he may be and the suit hides his tattoos. By the time you notice the bulge under his left arm, it is too late. He just popped a cap in your ass.

  19. B.,

    While that is in part a judgement based on action (people of any color acting in a strange manner) and simply wise, it also shows a judgement based on appearance. I’ve known guys who look perfectly harmless and are anything but and guys who look like they’d eat your dog in front of your family who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Appearance can matter in forming a judgement of others, but it should always be secondary to actions.

  20. bron98 says:

    true enough but the idea is to not be involved in an hostile action. It is why people avoid pit bulls although the pit bulls I know are wonderful dogs. But I know that because of my friendship with their owners.

    When you are in an unfamiliar place late at night, you use your judgment to stay safe. Now the white guy smiling and wearing a suit could be Ted Bundy so you need to be aware of what is going on.

    So you wont necessarily have the chance to judge actions.


    yeah, yeah, I know, I know.

  21. Bob Kauten says:

    First, stop being afraid of everyone you see on the street. Almost all of them are not even aware of you. Tattooed or not, black or white, most of them have other things to think about.
    Less TV and action movies might help.
    Try it. If you get beat up or shot, get back to us (you won’t).

  22. bron98 says:


    I am just proposing a counter to Gene.

    If I get shot, I’ll make sure you know, I wouldn’t want you to miss.

  23. bron98 says:

    whoops that should be miss me.

  24. bigfatmike says:

    ” The healthy reaction to ones oppressors should be resentment and distrust. Otherwise you would have a group suffering the “Stockholm Syndrome”. Some Whites may see that anger, hatred and distrust as reverse racism, I see it as good common sense and necessary to allow people to stop hating themselves for being oppressed.”

    I can understand the logic, or perhaps I should say the emotion. But I don’t think this is a useful position in the long run. It seems to me that many African Americans and whites share common interest and ought to work together against those with political and economic power that keep them down.

    There is no doubt that the little progress we have made has come at great sacrifice in the black community. But does anyone seriously think that progress could have been made without changing white minds and gaining white support. I don’t think so.

    The problem of racism requires building relations and struggle on both sides. Mistrust beyond the normal skepticism due any political alliance is counter productive.

    • bigfatmike says:

      Somehow I though this would be a stylish gray flannel suit, complete with square faced watch, leather band and roman numerals.

      I guess a $20 just does not go as far as it used to.

  25. Duh + UNG = ……………



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