White like me
“Whiteness studies” is now being taught at universities from Princeton to UCLA. Unlike black studies, whiteness courses don’t celebrate the wonderful cultural contributions of whites: The idea is to make kids feel guilty.
Arlene Avakian, the chair of the U-Mass. women’s studies department, sat on a wide desk, let her legs dangle and asked the class to discuss the ideas of racial privilege, environmental comfort and social control. . .
Winnie Chen, 22, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, said it pained her to deal with race every day when her white peers seemed to rarely think about it. She tried to discuss race with a white friend once, she said, but he felt ambushed.
“He said I was pulling a Pearl Harbor on him,” she said. “It is so difficult for them to think there is another lens. He talked about Irish oppression. I asked, ‘Have you ever considered why you’re no longer oppressed here when Asians, blacks and Hispanics still are?’ ”
A white student raised her hand and said she and a friend had gone to a hall reserved for black student affairs, and the friend said she didn’t feel comfortable.
Brandi-Ann Andrade, a 21-year-old junior who is black, rolled her eyes. “So what?” she asked. “I never feel comfortable here. I’m a student at a school where most people are white. The only time I feel comfortable is when I’m at home.”
College is about feeling comfortable?
Naturally, the evils of whiteness must be inherently American, so Thomas Jefferson is blamed for inventing race in order to justify slavery. (Weren’t whites justifying slavery by claiming black inferiority from the time the first slavers raided Africa?)
“Slavery and genocide coexist with democracy and freedom,” (Avakian) said, and that’s what whiteness studies teaches. “President Andrew Jackson presided during the mass murder of Indians. If we knew in detail how slavery existed alongside freedom, we would have to change the national narrative.”
What’s especially pernicious is that many college students don’t know enough history to put all this in context.
Update: Here’s Linda Seebach’s story on a 1997 Whiteness conference in . . . Yes! Berkeley.