When Indiana University marks the birthday of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, its “IUnity Summit” will focus on white privilege.
“This year’s program will include an interactive privilege simulator that will provide participants the opportunity to gain perspective on how various racial, gender, socioeconomic, sexual orientation, religious, and ability-centered identities impact the lived experiences and opportunities of minoritized people and communities,” the college said on the web page devoted to its King Day activities.
Monica Johnson, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, explained to the Indiana Daily Student, the college’s student newspaper, how the event will work.
“We will be turning Alumni Hall into a game board. Around the room will be various stations representing essential entities and systems within life: housing, employment, education, finance, healthcare and the judicial system.”
She said that the program will explore power, privilege and systemic oppression. Students will be given a tag with their identity for the game, and then move through the various stations, facing the challenges that their identity faces.
Students will receive an encrypted identity tag and be instructed to move forward to make decisions and navigate each station as they see fit, Johnson said.
— mathewsjw (@mathewsjw) January 14, 2019
Johnson said the goal of the event is to drive home to students the existence of systemic oppression, forms of discrimination and how they can be changed or navigated.
“Although they are difficult to dismantle completely, it is our responsibility to disrupt these systems and advocate for transformative change,” Johnson said.
Not everyone agrees that white privilege is worth the fuss.
These are all terms created by people who cannot win a debate based on the merit of their ideas, and so attempt to shame people against challenging their flawed logic.
This strategy has worked on me exactly 0 times.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) January 8, 2019
If there is a white privilege, then why is there affirmative action for non-whites? Why do white males pay a disproportionately high amount of taxes? Why are white birthrates declining? Why do white males killed themselves in such high numbers?
there is a real suffering out here https://t.co/ENMfzdh2j8
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) January 12, 2019
Although King’s message was often about unity, many activists focus upon claims of white privilege — that being born white allows those members of society greater power and access to opportunity.
Georgia historian Keri Leigh Merritt is one of those, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted.
“Whether pitting laborers of different races against each other, stoking racial fears through a (sensationalist) and profit-driven media, or politically scapegoating entire ethnic groups, America’s white elite have successfully modernized age-old strategies of using racism to prevent the formation of a broad coalition of people along class lines — and across racial lines,” Merritt wrote in “Keeping Poor Whites and Blacks Apart: A Southern Tradition.”
She said only taxation and welfare programs administered by government can erase white privilege.
“Given our history of slavery, the failures of land reform after emancipation, and the various barriers to success for African-Americans under Jim Crow, it’s nearly impossible to bridge the racial wealth gap without some sort of policy-driven wealth redistribution. And without that, the playing field will never be leveled,” she said.
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