by Rose Laoutaris
If you have ever been on a college campus, you have probably encountered leftists yelling buzzwords and phrases, such as “white privilege.” White privilege used to just be a topic leftists would discuss and argue about amongst themselves, but now, there are actually courses about white privilege offered at universities.
Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont offers a course titled “White People” as a part of its program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Its course description states,
White people are too often invisible when it comes to having a race. In this course we will examine the formation of whiteness as an always present if often ignored, racial category, that came ashore with the Pilgrims. We will explore how whiteness became a foundational category for citizenship after the Civil War, when the Color Line was drawn through legal, cultural, and spatial practices. Finally, we will look at the formation of whiteness as a site of privilege, aggrieved entitlement, and even a category of ‘trash’ in the more recent past. We will also situate whiteness, like all racial categories, as entangled with class, gender, sexuality, and nationality.
The first problem with this course is that it is a giant contradiction in leftist thought. Leftists claim they want to end racism, but they also say that white people do not think about their race enough by saying that they are “too often invisible when it comes to having a race” and that whiteness is “often ignored.” If they actually want to end racism, the best way to do it is to stop thinking and talking about it constantly. In a society that is truly not racist, people do not even think about race because they view all people the same, regardless of their skin color. However, by offering this course, Middlebury College is making race much more important than it should be and is only making the problem they claim they want to solve worse.
The next problem is that while this course may have been created with the intention of ending racism, it is only fueling it by spreading the myth of “white privilege.” The idea of “white privilege” itself is racist since it is making assumptions about people based off their skin color, and there are many factors that decide how privileged someone is, so it is ridiculous to assume that someone is privileged just because they are white. The course also makes assumptions by labelling all white people as “entitled” or “trash” which is incredibly rude and divisive language. This course is encouraging racism and worsening race relations by insulting an entire race and dividing people into groups based on race and pitting them against each other.
The myth of white privilege is not the only piece of false information found in the course description. It also describes how the class will “explore how whiteness became a foundational category for citizenship after the Civil War,” even though the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified right after the Civil War in 1868, says:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This amendment prevented African-Americans or anyone of any race who were born in the United States from being denied citizenship, so while discrimination and racism were still prevalent in the country, the claim in the course description that whiteness was used to determine citizenship after the Civil War is false.
Since the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution were ratified after the Civil War, ending slavery and giving all people born in the United States citizenship and voting rights, and after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on race, Americans have had equal rights under the law.
The great thing about America is that even if someone was not born with as much privilege as others, they have the opportunity to become just as successful if they work hard enough. There is no way to get rid of privilege since some people will always be born better at certain skills, into wealthier families, with better health, etc., but it should not be used as an excuse to stop anyone from achieving success in life. America offers opportunities for everyone, regardless of who they are or the circumstances they were born into. The fact that these students are able to attend a university that costs $52,496 per year shows that they are not oppressed and are in no position to complain about being under-privileged.
Middlebury College’s “White People” course is not only ridiculous because it spreads the myth of white privilege and teaches information that is historically inaccurate, but also because it is pointless. College is supposed to prepare students for a career, but what career preparation could this course possibly serve? If anything, this course hurts students, especially those Middlebury deems less privileged, because it discourages them from reaching their goals since they believe that if they are born with less privilege, they are stuck in that position and cannot become successful, even though that is not true. Students are not being educated; they are being indoctrinated, and this waste-of-time course will hurt them more than mythical white privilege will.
Rose Laoutaris is a 2018 CBLPI Fall Intern.
Ed Note: The image of the young white girl at the top of this post is cropped from this larger photo (displayed below) of a white mother begging in the street. Rational people would identify these people as white, but none would call them “privileged.”