Swedish design student wants to diversify the ‘World White Web’

One design student’s final project, World White Web, is trying to disrupt what she calls “the norm of whiteness” in Google Image searches.

Johanna Burai, a graphic design student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, documented her searches of “hands” for her final project after only finding return results of white hands. When she searched “arm,” “leg,” or “feet” on Google Images, Burai found similar results, Vocativ reported.

“This is a crystal clear example of how the norm of whiteness manifests itself—the white body is neutral,” said Burai, according to Fader. “The search result is just one example of how being white is a norm in society. A lot of people choose to turn a blind eye to the privileges you get simply by being white, as well as to the systematic racism experienced by people of color in their everyday lives.”

It is not necessarily news that structural norms of whiteness are built into everyday life. Burai is the first to admit that. However, Burai’s approach is unique. She said her starting point for triggering broader change is to achieve greater diversity in Google Images search results.

She offered tips on how people can move closer to that goal, one photo at a time.

“Sharing on websites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter can boost the ranking on Google. Make sure that you make your post ‘public’ so that others may share them,” Burai said, according to the Independent.