A Wisconsin high school conducted a class in “White Privilege” last semester that had many parents up in arms. From the description in this Fox News article, they had a reason to be upset:
The “American Diversity” class was taught to students at Delavan-Darien High School in Wisconsin, Fox News has learned.
“They’re teaching white guilt,” one parent told Fox News. “They’re dividing the students. They’re saying to non-whites, ‘You have been oppressed and you’re still being oppressed.’”
The parent, who asked not to be identified, has an 18-year-old son who was enrolled in the class and became alarmed after she looked at some of the handouts provided to the students.
“I felt it was indoctrination,” she said. “This is a radical left agenda and ideology that is now embedded in our school.”
The parent said the students were taught “if you’re white, you’re oppressing. If you’re non white, you’ve been a victim.”
According to handouts obtained by Fox News, “white privilege” was defined as “a set of advantages that are believed to be enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by non-white people in the same social, political, and economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.”
Students were also given a handout from University of Texas professor Robert Jensen arguing that people don’t have complete control over their fate.
“There is not space here to list all the ways in which white privilege plays out in our lives, but it is clear that I will carry this privilege with me until the day white supremacy is erased from society,” he wrote.
Students were also instructed to visit the toy aisle at Wal-Mart for a hands-on illustration of white privilege.
“They were told to go and count the number of dolls that were representative of blacks as opposed to whites,” the parent said. “It’s meant to divide and victimize non-whites and condition whites to feel guilty and to be more passive.”
She brought the material to the attention of school officials and eventually to Robert Crist, the new superintendent of the Delavan-Darien School District.
“A lot of red flags go up in my mind when I look at the materials,” Crist told Fox News. “Her concern has merit.”
On the surface, a class studying “White Privilege” might be useful — from a historical perspective. The story of America is largely one of expanding the idea of freedom and justice for all. Each generation is charged with unwritten instructions to broaden the base of liberty and include those who, for whatever reason, had been denied the full fruits of citizenship and the full panoply of rights guaranteed under the Constitution. It hasn’t always worked this way. But no one can deny that we have made great strides toward equality, mostly because of a consensus achieved by all races that the more equal we are before the law, the better country we are.
There is little doubt that white privilege existed in the past, and still exists today. The difference between then and now is a society-wide awareness of privilege that somewhat mitigates the advantages of being white. We pass laws dealing with the effects of inequality, but ultimately, the law can only go so far in dealing with the problem. White privilege is what it is largely because whites are a super-majority of the population, and while we always haven’t lived up to the words in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, thanks to the genius of the Founders, we have the capacity to change, to strive for a better society. This is an exceptional part of our nature as a country and is a story equally worthy to be told as the narrative of white privilege. In fact, it would be simple common sense to tell these compelling stories alongside one another.
But the goal of the class in diversity at the Wisconsin high school is not to teach, not to inform, but to brainwash students. The key is the use of the word “oppressor.” I doubt sincerely whether the proponents of teaching this class would know what oppression is even if it came up and bit them in the butt. Real oppression is standing up in a public meeting and complaining about being oppressed — and then getting taken out back by authorities, lined up against a wall, and shot. There are still several dozen countries where this is basically true, and the real courage of fighters for freedom in those countries who risk their lives every day make the leftist lickspittles who try to fill the heads of impressionable kids with their oppression fantasies look like the propagandists they truly are.
It was true at one time in America that a black man speaking out about racism and equality was putting himself in grave danger. Those days are gone. “Speaking truth to power” in America is no longer a risky proposition. Rocking the boat by screaming “racism” or “oppression” at the drop of a hat makes one a celebrated personage, invited on all the best talk shows and feted in leftist salons from one end of the country to the other. Activism has become a big business with big-name attorneys and PR firms like David Fenton’s shop applying a professional sheen to the rough edges.
There is no value in teaching a course on white privilege that fails to give any context — historical, social, cultural — and substitutes hysterical charges of “oppression” for thoughtful analysis. Stupid analogies like the Wal-Mart doll test is typical. If the doll manufacturer made as many black dolls as white dolls, they would be out of business in one season. Not because people don’t want the black dolls because they are racists or exercising some fantasy form of “White Privilege,” but because little girls generally want dolls that reflect who they are — including what race they belong to. Since there are four times more white girls than black girls, the doll manufacturer would be committing suicide if it manufactured three times as many black dolls than could possibly be sold.
Is this simple, grade-school economic fact relayed to the students sent to Wal-Mart to sniff out white privilege? I doubt it.
Politics and education don’t mix. The school district should stop teaching this course unless the leftist politics are removed and objective analysis replaces it.