A University in the United Kingdom is encouraging students to take a four-hour course on white privilege, pronoun use, and microaggressions, and students who pass the course win a gold star.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Awarding white people with gold stars for acknowledging their privilege is, well, weird, but let’s not rush to judgment here. Sure, this could be just another exercise in performative allyship and feckless diversity training that barely scratches the surface of what white privilege actually is—or maybe not.
Also, are white people mad? Because if white people are mad at something racial progress-related, I’m at least here for filling my white tears goblet (yep, I got a whole goblet) and quenching my non-privileged negro thirst.
Anyway, according to Mail+, the course offered to students at the University of Kent (because the Learning Institution of Karen would have been too on the nose) is titled “Expect Respect” as it outlines “the behaviour we expect of you while you’re with us” and covers “issues of racism, bias, sexual harassment and consent.”
The course includes a white privilege quiz that asks students to choose from a list of 13 examples of ways white people benefit from whiteness.
The fact that there are only 13 options and only one needs to be selected means these examples better be damn good.
“I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race,” one option on the quiz reportedly states.
OK. I mean, I didn’t know the second-hand clothing thing was even a thing—especially coming from people who wouldn’t know what to wear on casual day if dusty plaid shirts and Nikes from 1983 didn’t exist—but the profanity thing is real. We all know white people can flip the bird in a photo and have it be considered rebellious, good-natured fun while a Black person doing the same is a thug with no decency or self-respect who probably just got done robbing somebody.
Let’s see what else you got.
“I can go shopping without being followed or harassed.”
Yep, that one’s a no-brainer.
“I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.”
This doesn’t only apply to finding success in a “challenging situation.” Whether committing good or bad acts, white people are always individuals first whereas Black people, especially when doing something negative, are pretty much always addressed as a collective.
Hell, we’re still collectively being asked to answer for Black-on-Black crime and disproportionate Black crime statistics when the same databases white people use as their racism justification bibles in arguing Black people, per capita, commit the most crimes, also shows that only a minuscule percentage of Black people are arrested for violent crimes in any given year. Yet, somehow I’m always being asked what I’m doing about Chicago—a city I’ve only ever been to twice in my life.
According to Mail+, “the new course has not received a good reception from academic staff at the university,” with some calling it “philistine,” which I’m guessing is British whitey speech for “I’m not racist; you’re the real racist for calling out racism.”
“I’ve said I’m not going to do it (add trigger warnings or decolonise reading lists) and I’m not going to tell students to do this module either,” Ellie Lee, a professor of family and parenting research at Kent, reportedly said. “Encouraging people in the academy to narrow their field of reading and narrow students’ reading seems to me to be simply philistine and irresponsible. Students are being instructed through this module that there is a correct way of thinking.”
Yeeeah, it sounds like the course is actually just asking that books by old white authors not continue to be treated like the end all be all of quality literature, but whatever.
The University of Kent told Mail+ in a statement, “We introduced the Expect Respect module in 2020 in response to requests from our students that we promote greater awareness of the things we can all do to make everyone feel safe and supported on our campuses. It is also part of our broader commitment to being inclusive and welcoming to all who study and work with us.”
The University also said, “While we would like as many students as possible to take the module, nobody would face action for not doing so.”
So, what do y’all think about the course? Is it a step in the right direction, or is it just another course on bare-minimum activism?