As if college students aren’t already getting healthy doses of politics in the classroom, it’s starting to seep into their domiciles. Campuses in the United States are notoriously liberal, some to the point of refusing to host conservative speakers. Conservative students are often ostracized and accused of being racist for holding certain political beliefs. It’s gotten to the point where many are afraid to express their opinions and views. Groups of social justice warriors also spend their days going on the attack if anyone has dissenting points of view.
A display was put up in a dorm at Santa Clara University in California targeting white students. Using a Snow White theme, some not-so-creative individuals constructed a board titled “S-Know Your Whiteness.” It’s meant to explain to white people why they’re privileged and how they should use their whiteness to make the social justice world a better place. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the creators of the board even found a way to incorporate different color people emojis to argue their case.
While I’m not denying that white people don’t have to deal with racism or prejudice on the same level as minorities, I’m strongly against shaming Caucasian individuals for something they can’t control. Making someone feel bad about the color of their skin falls dangerously close to discrimination. To put this type of display up where students live creates a hostile and unwelcoming environment. Those sentiments need to be left in special interest groups where students can choose whether or not to participate in such lessons. The concept of white privilege doesn’t even exist to many people.
The display was divided into different categories breaking down whiteness. According to the board, whiteness is a social construct and all about power. Just in case anyone is confused about what to do about their whiteness, have no fear. The display instructs white students to recognize their privilege and use their power to advocate for non-white things.
It reads almost like a recruiting tool. Not every student can be expected to become involved in political groups and causes. There’s also nothing wrong with not wanting to partake in social justice warrior activities. White students should also get educated on their whiteness, which entails understanding microaggressions enough to call them out and put a stop to them.
Truth be told, I’m not even sure what microaggressions are. I don’t recall a single time in my life thinking about ways to end these pesky microaggressions. If anything, I’d classify a strange wall display talking about whiteness as a microaggression. There’s a time and place for everything, and using living areas for all students as a soapbox is the absolute wrong time and place to address white privilege.
To me, the term “white privilege” gets tossed around to the point of becoming comical. It’s another way to blame white folks for everything that’s wrong in the world. I have never once turned to the nearest white person and yelled, “Check your privilege!”
These type of displays only feed divisiveness.