Columbus, the Dove Ad and Redesigning Work Spaces: Our Favorite Student Comments of the Week

Columbus, the Dove Ad and Redesigning Work Spaces: Our Favorite Student Comments of the Week

Emily S. from USA gave many reasons why Columbus Day should be replaced by Indigenous Peoples’ Day:

Columbus never set foot on the actual Continental US, so there is no use in giving him that credit. Why should we celebrate a holiday that symbolizes the discovery of our country, when our country wasn’t even discovered on that day? Also, consider the fact that after the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria (Columbus’ ships) arrived, there was even more enslavement of the Native Americans. It isn’t right to celebrate the day that caused more wrong slavery of the first peoples. Columbus, even if it was unintentional, was a genocidal man, and few, if anyone, can come up with a valid reason why he should be appreciated widely.

Laura Gayot from Brockton argued passionately:

I think Christopher Columbus Day should NOT be celebrated. Why should we teach the youth, or anyone to celebrate a man who found something that was never lost. It’s goes against everything that American people believe in. The Indigenous people were mistreated all because a man decided that he wanted to take over land that did not belong to him. It’s not fair to take credit of someone else’s work, therefore Christoper Columbus Day should not be celebrated. He did not discover America… he mistreated the people already living in America.

Henry A. from The Moon stated that acts of violence should not be celebrated:

Considering Columbus committed genocide, he should not have a national holiday named after him. Using extreme violence to enslave an ethnicity should not be celebrated. Renaming the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day would be appropriate because it could serve as a tribute to the many Natives who were killed unjustly.

Finally, Jose 3D from YC clip agreed, saying:

Columbus day commemorates the arrival to Christopher Columbus to America. He did many bad things to the indigenes of America and gave bad time for the natives. He killed, destroyed and took land from the indigenes. Why celebrate a day for all this barbarism? If we want to celebrate and remember history, we should think in the natives who died fighting for their rights, land, families, and believes.



A lively conversation took place on our Student Opinion question asking “Is This Ad Racist?” about a recent Dove soap ad on Facebook.

After several commenters pointed out that the Facebook screenshot provided by The Times did not display the entire ad, which the advertiser had removed, we corrected our work and linked to a news report that showed the original. Many responded to the difference in seeing only the screenshot here vs. seeing the entire ad:

Harold from New Jersey explained that he believed seeing the whole ad makes it not racist:

This ad isn’t racist since the Dove company wasn’t trying to deliver the same message that society has conveyed it as. While the still picture of the black woman transforming into a white woman might enrage some, if people had seen the full ad, they would learn that the white woman would later take off her shirt and change into a Hispanic woman. Dove was only trying to show how all races could use their soap and their support for diversity.

Trumbly from USA agreed:

The fact that social media has literally cut a third of the ad out in order to push this narrative is indication enough that it’s not racist in context, only out of context. This may make it tone-deaf, but clearly no offense was intended. That said, I try to understand positions different from mine, and do think someone in Marketing should have noticed the potential to offend.

Ana from Delaware pointed out that perhaps our current cultural moment has made people extra sensitive to race and racism:

When i first saw this ad, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I saw it for what it was, an ad displaying the diversity of a client pool. No, this ad is not racially insensitive. I would say instead that people have become racially sensitive. This is partially a good thing. It means we’ve come to a place where we can support each other in the little thing. Emphasis on little things because this ad is not as big a deal as people made it out to be… If she took off the shirt to reveal an asian woman, would things be the same and if that asian woman was the one that revealed the white woman, would there still be outrage. Probably not. Honestly there are better things to worry about other than Dove ads. You want to worry about racism? look outside of your facebook ad feed and worry about the people next to you.

Several others, like Charis from New Jersey, disagreed:

This ad is absolutely racist in showing that once one showers with Dove, that person can become “clean,” or in this case, become white. This implies that white people are “clean,” and colored people should strive to become “clean,” or white. It advertises that one can become white in using their product, where being white has a positive connotation, and being black has a negative connotation. Even if the Dove company were striving to show diversity, the fact that only African American, Caucasion, and Hispanic women were portrayed in this ad shows that they did not fully represent the diversity in America. If they were to show diversity, they should include others as well. The other races were incredibly misrepresented in this ad.

Pranavi from New Jersey also thought the ad conveyed a negative message about women of color:

I think that this ad is, in fact, very racist. It is implying that dark-skinned women are “impure” and that they should use Dove soap to become whiter, and thus “purer.” If companies make such tone-deaf ads like this one, the best response to the outcries would be to apologize for the misconception and mistake, and then tweak the ad to have a much more positive message. I also believe that there is no way to avoid such misconceptions until the ad is released to the public. Many people would not think of such racist interpretations until others notify them of it. This is completely not acceptable, in my personal opinion.

Lili from Holland, though, thought this ad was a lose-lose situation for Dove:

Ok, but now for the big marketing question: would this short GIF have ever worked? My answer is no:

White, colored, colored: ‘whites always get first place’

Colored, white, colored: ‘ah the white woman is the cleaner version of the colored woman, that’s racist’

Colored, colored, white: ‘ah the white woman is the cleanest version of the colored women, that’s racist’

They should have never released this short gif, but stuck to the longer video with 7 women. Even then they would have received critical reviews..because people are racially sensitive…but that would have somewhat saved it, in my opinion.



Renovated Microsoft offices have a variety of work spaces for employees. Left, a phone-booth-style room for privacy, and right, an isolation room. Credit Stuart Isett for The New York Times

Lily Nameth from Franklin School of Innovation brought up real-life work space needs in a comment about “An Ideal School Design,” one of our Picture Prompt questions.

This school building design is an improvement to not only to schools but also the workplace and real world. It creates a less structured environment that is applicable to real life. In some work offices they have started to have stand up desks which is a small step toward the direction of this completely modified work space. I love the idea of having an individual space as well as a collaborative space. I think that this should be expanded even more into a more outside environment for some students or employees to work. Having outside offices would increase health as well as productivity for the majority of people. The hard thing with implying this in high school is it would need a lot more supervision than having normal classrooms. I also believe that students would have more motivation to get their work done in this creative self chosen atmosphere.

Kaya Lemire from FSI wanted a lot more flexibility in high school work spaces:

I feel one of the components that most schools lack is outdoor availability. Having a place where you can do schoolwork outside would benefit me in a major way. I like to feel connected to the world and relaxed when doing schoolwork, and by being in a relaxed environment, I can focus and work more efficiently. Collaboration is an important aspect of school because it teaches you to work with people and it applies to your life outside of school as well. Having an area where students can collaborate is a significant factor to an efficient school environment. Aside from working together, it is also important to work alone. Rooms or spaces that students will not be distracted would help increase focus. A productive school environment would have designated places to do so.



Amanda de Cadenet said her first lesson in becoming an effective interviewer was the hardest: “One of the big adjustments was to learn to listen.” Credit Amy Lombard for The New York Times

Though Bella Cankurtaran from Wilmington, N.C., was the only person who commented on the question “What Makes a Great Conversation?”, we liked what she had to say about her goals:

I am a listener. I make small talk- which expands into much deeper conversation and interests- and observe the things the other person states finding myself generalizing my thoughts on that person’s values. My goal is to keep the conversation going without the awkward pauses where you just stare each other dead in the eye. Unfortunately, that’s normal and most likely going to occur. I say things that relate to the other person to get them to share more about themselves. I like to hear what they have to say and take in their new stories. While sharing your own stories is exciting, you already know what’s going to happen. Also, most people enjoy talking about themselves as that is the one topic they know everything about.

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