University of Wisconsin-Madison Offers 'Problem of Whiteness' Class

December 22, 2016

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has recently had to defend a certain class it offers as part of its African Cultural Studies program. It insists the class was "not designed to offend individuals or single out an ethnic group," but students do not seem convinced.

The class is titled, "The Problem of Whiteness."

As part of "The Problem of Whiteness," students are taught “what it really means to be white,” as part of a method of understanding "whiteness" and how to "help dismantle" any feelings of superiority that might come with being white. Other course objectives include recognizing "what an ethical white identity entails," and "what it means to be #woke," according to Campus Reform’s Kassy Dillon.

"The Problem of Whiteness" fulfills UW-Madison’s ethnic studies requirement for graduation. The class’s description begins with Richard Wright’s quote, "There is no Negro problem in the United States, There’s only a white problem," and continues by bashing white Americans for either not seeing themselves as much of a problem or not taking enough initiative to be vocal about how much of a problem they are.

"After all, since white supremacy was created by white people, is it not white folks who have the greatest responsibility to eradicate it?" the course description reads.

Aside from offering a course on white people, the university adds, it also offers courses on Asians, Hispanics, Europeans, and African-Americans.

Of course there appears to be one major difference: courses on the topics of other races and ethnic classes are focused more on their cultures and less on them being a "problem"... The course description attempts to justify the disparity between perceptions on race in its courses:

Whereas disciplines such as Latino/a, African, and Asian American studies focus on race as experienced by non-whites, whiteness studies considers how race is experienced by white people. It explores how they consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism and how this not only devastates communities of color but also perpetuates the oppression of most white folks along the lines of class and gender. 

In courses on topics of colored races, the focus is on their victimization, whereas in courses exploring whiteness, the focus is on how whites perpetuate the victimization of others, even without realizing it.

In a campus-wide statement Monday, the school defended "The Problem of Whiteness" as a course that will "benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues," and "challenge… racism of all kinds." Except anti-white racism, of course. 

Follow Pardes Seleh on Twitter.  

 

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