Online community college courses aren’t known for stirring up controversy; and when they are, it’s usually only because graduating from one with honors is tantamount to being named The Best Steak Chef in India. But from time to time, even online college courses can get a little meat on the bone. And when educational sizzle like this meets the conservative brain, it goes over about as well as…well…a steak in India.
Lone Star College is based out of the Houston area, with several campuses scattered around it. It’s a technically based school that touts affordability and accessibility — the latter in part being through online schooling. While Houston isn’t precisely what most would call a “liberal bastion,” it is a comparatively progressive fortification in the red wilderness of Bushtopia.
That being the case, Lone Star has a fairly open policy of proselytizing for diversity; its professors, regardless of the particular subject they teach, are encouraged to get students thinking 21st Century instead of 19th. That was undoubtedly the impetus behind a worksheet given out to online students of “Learning Framework: 1st Year Experience,” a freshman-required course which focuses on teaching students the “strategies and tenacity necessary to succeed in mathematics.”
That might seem like an odd place for an (at the moment unnamed) professor to hand out a “White Privilege Worksheet.” And it probably would be a bit out-of-context…if it were an actual assignment. The worksheet didn’t count for any points in the class, and students who failed to fill it out weren’t penalized. Mostly because they already got an education…in feeling extremely uncomfortable.
Feel that? That little…ungh. Sort of right there, in the back of the uvula? That’s called “guilt,” and some people don’t handle it that well. Denial is usually the go-to response. But a certain portion of the population (which for the sake of discussion we’ll call “sociopathic”) tends to respond the sensation of guilty with a bit of hostility.
One of the more interesting responses came from the very student who broke the story to KPRC:
“I was shocked, I thought it was a joke [when I received the assignment]. There was a white privileges handout and a white privileges checklist and a white privileges quiz to see how privileged you are as a white person.”
They went on to say that they felt “uncomfortable” answering the questions, and incredibly, felt “singled out” despite being one among dozens who got the same questionnaire, and being at the other end of a computer. Another echoed the sentiment:
“I didn’t feel comfortable sitting by myself at a computer with no one around me, I couldn’t imagine if I was in a classroom setting and these questions were put in front me.”
So, this being a math class, let’s do a quick tally:
Shock, disbelief, discomfort, cognitive dissonance, feeling singled out because something specifically applies to you, forcing you to imagine things you never thought of before, having to take personal account for your biases or irrational thoughts. Add that up, and educationally speaking…
Socrates would approve.
“Basically the way I felt was I was supposed to feel alienated and that I was supposed to feel bad.”
Yes, that sensation is called “empathy” for those who live alienation every day, and are consistently made to feel bad about their identity. Sucks, doesn’t it? Education.
Of course, there are those who have taken a slightly…let’s call it “less than academic” approach to making their feelings known. We culled these from a few right-wing websites reporting on the matter. The last are from our new favorite Bitter-Tea-Party-Turned-White-Supremacist-Whinefest “I Will NOT Vote for Obama 2012,” your home for angry little white men and still-confused Republicans.
But, this is what happens when you try to give some people an actual education. Like a fine filet mignon served in a Hindu province, it gets spit right back in your face.
Not us! We freed the slaves! From…us.
Here’s an interesting one: A white woman who’s had privilege all her life, about to experience the other end of that privilege through her adopted child. Sadly, she’ll get it sooner or later. Talking about hate and discrimination isn’t propagating them — NOT talking about them is propagating them.
Of course, there are those who say that not only do whites not have an advantage…it’s the blacks who have the advantage. Funny…for a disadvantaged people, we must have overcome a lot to run this country.Truly, we whites have overcome so much to run the country.
White Advantage No. 1: Not having people assume by default you’re an unemployed welfare mooch, or you only got your job through Affirmative Action.
White Disadvantage No. 1: Being terrified of black people.