‘If you're white, you're a racist’: UK university teaching staff to deal with own ‘whiteness’
British universities are encouraging lecturers to acknowledge their “white privilege,” which makes them unwittingly racist. The classes teach university staff that white-skinned people enjoy greater advantages in life due to the color of their skin, and that black staff and students are discriminated against regularly.
Posters for sessions held at Bristol University said it would ask lecturers to “examine and acknowledge the destructive role of whiteness.” The seminars will be hosted by the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff Advisory Group.
The event, called ‘Walking On The White Side Of The Street,’ published flyers that said: “We will look at it as a day-to-day reality of white privilege that causes daily ‘aggressions’ towards people of color. We discuss why white people accrue advantages and benefits simply due to the color of their skin, and how whiteness as a discriminatory force is as prevalent today as it was 400 years ago.”
It isn’t just Bristol University, however. A workshop at East Anglia’s Anglia Ruskin University called ‘Privilege: The Truth We Don’t Tell Ourselves,’ asked those in attendance to face up to “our privilege in an honest manner and understand exactly how we benefit from a racist system.” York St. John University held a similar staff seminar in November, called ‘Learning And Unlearning Whiteness.’
A mere 85 of the 15,905 professors in the UK are black, according to a 2015 report by the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank. Research also indicates that black and ethnic minority (BAME) students are more likely to quit university. If they do make it through, they are less likely to be awarded a top degree than their white classmates.
Similar workshops in the USA prompted American university students to hit back. They plastered their campuses with posters bearing the message that “It’s OK to be white.”
Sociologist and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent Frank Furedi said that the concept of white privilege, in effect, labeled every white person as racist. “Whiteness is the equivalent of original sin, and white racism inescapable,” he told the Sunday Times.
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