Purdue University has reversed course after mandating that students in a choir group complete “antiracist” training before participating after backlash from the students.
Purdue Musical Organizations announced in January that its members would be required to complete six classes on antiracist thought, including “White Privilege, White Supremacy, and White Fragility,” and “White Saviorism and How To Be A Better Ally,” according to emails reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. The courses also featured readings from prominent antiracists such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo.
The course, originally scheduled to begin in February, was postponed after complaints from students. After being contacted by the Free Beacon, a spokesman for the music group said the plans for mandatory training were scrapped and the classes would be optional for the group’s members.
“Purdue Musical Organizations is committed to inclusive excellence and has created a program, alongside the Purdue Office of Diversity and Inclusion, to create a learning series focused on engaging all of its members, whatever their lived experiences may be,” Purdue Musical Organizations spokesman Tim Doty told the Free Beacon in an email. “The series will be offered beginning in March. Recognizing the stresses presented by COVID, as well as the existing commitments that many students have outside of [Purdue Musical Organizations], the series is not required, but participation is strongly encouraged.”
Kendi, whose2 ideas will be prominently featured in the antiracist courses, has worked to redefine racism in the United States to encompass differences in group outcomes in addition to specific acts. Last year, Kendi launched the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University to address the “seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice,” according to the group’s website.
“We foster exhaustive racial research, research-based policy innovation, data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives. We are working toward building an antiracist society that ensures equity and justice for all,” the website continues.
In August, Kendi was invited to give a lecture at NASA titled “Understand Anti-racism by Understanding What it Means to be Racist.” The agency told The Daily Wire in a statement at the time that the event was aimed at getting employees “to engage in a dialogue about diversity and inclusion and follows the recent announcement of inclusion as one of NASA’s core values, which will enable NASA to attract the best talent, grow the capabilities of the entire workforce, and empower everyone to fully contribute.”
DiAngelo, whose work is also to be touted during the classes, has been paid thousands to give similar lectures. The University of Connecticut offered to pay DiAngelo $20,000 to train its administrators on antiracism before canceling the training, a university spokesman told The Daily Wire.
As The Daily Wire reported:
According to her website, DiAngelo holds a PhD in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington in Seattle and is currently an Affiliate Associate Professor of Education there. A recipient of two honorary doctorates, she claims her “area of research is in Whiteness Studies and Critical Discourse Analysis, tracing how whiteness is reproduced in everyday narratives.”
In a statement announcing DiAngelo’s lecture, as well as their “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives,” UConn President Thomas Katsouleas commended UConn faculty and students who have engaged in protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, as well as participated “in innovative online and remote initiatives aimed at righting longstanding wrongs.”
Ed. note: An earlier version of this story noted that Robin DiAngelo was paid by the University of Connecticut to provide “antiracism” training. A university spokesperson indicated that the school offered to pay DiAngelo for the event but then canceled the training. The story has been updated to note this change. We apologize for the error.