Spain’s state-owned postal service has been accused of a damaging and counterproductive approach to equality after issuing a set of flesh-toned, anti-racism stamps in which the stamp with the lightest skin colour is worth more than twice as much as the darkest one.
Martedì, Correos España unveiled the set of four “equality stamps”: a pale, €1.60 one, a slightly darker €1.50 one, a brown €0.80 one, and a black €0.70 one.
The postal service said the initiative, which was developed in collaboration with the national SOS Racismo federation, had been launched on the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd to help highlight enduring inequalities.
“At Correos, we believe a person’s value shouldn’t have any colour, which is why we’re launching Equality Stamps, a collection of stamps in which the darker the colour of the stamp, the less its value," the service said in a tweet. “That’s a reflection of a painful and unfair reality that shouldn’t exist.”
But the project was met with swift criticism online from anti-racism activists.
Antumi Toasijé, a historian who chairs the government’s Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, disse: “A campaign that infuriates those it is trying to defend is always a mistake,” and called on Correos to withdraw the stamps.
“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," he said in a tweet. “We can all make mistakes, but it’s time to fix this one.”
The Madrid branch of SOS Racismo also lamented the initiative. "[This] unfortunate campaign shows how necessary it is to create a better anti-racist understanding in Spain," it said. “Racism isn’t just about skin colour; it’s a systemic and historical issue that was built to privilege some sectors of society and demean others.”
Moha Gerehou, a Spanish author and a former president of SOS Racismo Madrid, told the Associated Press the stamps were “an insurmountable contradiction”, aggiungendo: “At the end of the day, an anti-racism campaign has put out a clearly racist message.”
Correos España has been approached for comment.