Thursday, March 21, 2013

Workshops in White Privilege

CNS News reports that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the state agency that purports to advance public education and libraries, recently promoted materials urging its white VISTA volunteers to obsess over the “privilege” their race apparently confers on them.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a national service program whose members commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, create businesses, and strengthen community groups. DPI notes that its VISTA volunteers serve in schools that are culturally and racially diverse, and therefore DPI provides “multiple opportunities for training…that help the volunteers better serve the schools and communities in which they are placed.”

Part of that training apparently includes helping the white VISTA volunteers understand the degree to which they unknowingly have been “privileged” socio-economically by the color of their skin. Toward that end, the “VISTA Hub” of the DPI site includes a page devoted entirely to “Power and Privilege.” CNS News reported that the page included links to racial justice workshops and online tests where VISTA volunteers can “learn about your personal bias.” So begins the process of brainwashing the volunteers into believing that the invisible lubricant of a collective racial privilege they didn’t even know they had has greased their path to an imbalance of power and prosperity.

One of the “diversity” training documents linked to the site suggests that white people “wear a white wristband as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.” It also suggests that white people ponder questions such as “How do I ignore privilege? What am I doing today to undo my privilege? How do I fool myself into thinking I am powerless?” For those white people who might find their thoughts drifting away from such self-flagellation during the day, here are its other suggestions for keeping unearned guilt in the forefront of their consciousness:

  • Set aside sections of the day to critically examine how privilege is working.
  • Put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege.
  • Make a daily list of the ways privilege played out, and steps taken or not taken to address privilege.
  • Find a person of color who is willing to hold you accountable for addressing privilege.
This newfound awareness shouldn’t end with you, however; it should extend to everyone you interact with: “Not only should you examine the kind of privilege you bring to your (work) site but also how power is distributed among the families, community members, and students you work with,” the “Power and Privilege” page said. Presumably the next step would be to work toward the redistribution of that power. At the top of the page, CNS notes, was a quotation from feminist Gloria Steinem that reads, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

That quote is gone now, as is all the other controversial material on the web page. It’s been replaced by an “Important Updated Message” claiming that the DPI has been the victim of “misconceptions and misinformation being spread by an out-of-state entity that has no connection with the work being done in public schools in Wisconsin.” The message doesn’t address why the DPI has a web page devoted to countering white “privilege” in the first place, indicating approval for such racist indoctrination; instead, it focuses entirely on distancing DPI from responsibility for only one aspect of the controversial training material – the white wristband worn as a reminder of race guilt:

First and foremost, and to be absolutely clear, no DPI official has asked, requested, or encouraged any school district, educator, or student to wear any wristband, and none of our VISTA volunteers have had any children put on any wristbands. To be clear, no Wisconsin students were given white wristbands.

The offending document may be gone from that DPI web page, but here it is, retrieved elsewhere from the internet. It is attributed to a New Jersey organization called “Beyond Diversity Resource Center,” whose mission is “to build a society that sincerely honors individuals because of their cultural differences.” The site promotes a workbook on racial privilege for white people and The Anti-Racist Cookbook, a “recipe guide” for initiating conversations about race. Apparently they haven’t heard actor Morgan Freeman’s famous solution for combating racism: “Stop talking about it.”

Among the workshops about oppression and black incarceration offered by Beyond Diversity is one built around a book called Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equality, which astonishingly argues that “the best way forward is to become more, not less, conscious of race” and “that colorblind policies actually worsen the problem of racial injustice.” The book is written by radical Tim Wise, who, as his page on the Freedom Center’s Discover the Networks site notes, finds the U.S. prison system racist and advocates reparations not only to the descendants of slaves, but to all “people of color.”

The Freedom Center has countered the race-obsessed left’s hateful – and by definition racist – construct of “white privilege” with a recent pamphlet, available online, by David Horowitz and John Perazzo called “Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream.” It points out that “the term ‘white skin privilege’ was first popularized in the 1970s by the SDS radicals of ‘Weatherman,’ who were carrying on a terrorist war against ‘Amerikkka.’” It has since become “an article of faith among all progressives, a concept that accounted for everything… racially wrong in America beginning with its constitutional founding.”

The pamphlet notes that the radical left’s goal is to ensure that “this collectivist view of guilt and debts that erases individuals and their accountability” becomes ingrained in the consciousness of white America, supposedly to level the socio-economic playing field for “people of color.” But as Horowitz and Perazzo observe:

In a free society composed of unequal individuals, the drive to level the playing field is a totalitarian desire and a threat to freedom because it empowers government to confiscate the talents and earnings of some for the benefits of those it favors.

Not equality for all, but for those the government favors. For the race-mongering left, the “white privilege” fabrication isn’t so much about redressing inequality as seizing power. So much for our “most-racial” President’s promise of a post-racial America.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 3/19/13)