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article imageWisconsin high school under fire for teaching 'white privilege'

By Brett Wilkins     Jan 17, 2013 in Politics
Delavan - A Wisconsin high school teacher has raised eyebrows and ire after a parent expressed anger that her daughter was being taught that racial minorities are at an inherent disadvantage compared to whites in America.
The "American Diversity" class was taught at Delavan-Darien High School in Delavan, 55 miles (88 km) southwest of Milwaukee in Walworth County.
According to a course handout obtained by Fox News, students were taught about white privilege, defined as "a set of advantages believed to be enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by non-white people in the same social, political and economic spaces."
"Theorists differentiate it from racism or prejudice because, they say, a person who may benefit from white privilege is not necessarily racist or prejudiced and may be unaware of having any privileges reserved only for whites," the material explains.
As an instructive assignment, students were told to go to the toy aisle at Walmart and count how many white and black dolls were on sale.
All of this was too much for one parent to handle. The mother, who did not want to be named, has an 18-year-old daughter in the class and was alarmed by what her child was being taught.
"They're teaching white guilt," the mother told Fox News. "They're dividing the students. They're saying to non-whites, 'You have been oppressed and you're still being oppressed.'"
"I felt it was indoctrination," the woman continued. "This is a radical left agenda and ideology that is now embedded in our school."
Actually, there is nothing radical about the notion about the concept of white privilege, which is widely accepted in the academic fields of critical race theory and whiteness studies. Courses on the subject are taught at some of the nation's most prestigious universities, such as Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley.
Still, many-- mostly whites-- deny that white privilege exists. Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, asks these deniers to consider a series of questions, which whites can usually answer in the affirmative but blacks and Hispanics often cannot. For example, "I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own physical protection," "I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection of my race," and "I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race."
White privilege is also reflected in the mass incarceration of millions of blacks and Hispanics for non-violent drug offenses, as many white drug users largely enjoy the privilege of immunity from potentially life-destroying convictions because of how and where-- and against whom-- law enforcement targets illegal drug use.
The demographics of Walworth County, Wisconsin, where Delavan-Darien High School is located, may contribute to the widespread notion that white privilege is a radical leftist concept. The Republican-leaning county is around 94 percent white, 6 percent Hispanic and less than 1 percent African American. Some observers say the very fact that a course on "American Diversity" was being taught there deserves commendation.
But Delavan-Darien School District Superintendent Robert Crist has not scheduled the class to be taught this upcoming second semester of this current school year.
"A lot of red flags go up in my mind when I look at the [course] materials," Crist told Fox News, adding that the parent's concern "has merit."
"I'm out of an old-fashioned school," Crist continued. "I believe in helping kids understand the basic objectives of curriculum and not use some radical material to get a student to support some kind of a special theory."
The student's mother said she would have had no problem with white privilege being included among other perspectives, but that he instead "chose extremely radical left thinkers."
"He didn't give these kids alternative information," she told Fox News.
The woman pointed to her son's summer job washing dishes, sometimes for 10 hours a day, and dismissed the notion of white privilege.
"I was so proud of him," she said. "And then to have a teacher tell you you have these unearned privileges, that because you are white somehow you infringe upon other people's rights, that's really just awful."
But with the unemployment rate among black youth at 28 percent-- double the jobless rate for white youth, a balanced discussion about white privilege and other factors may not seem like such a radical idea after all.
More about white privilege, delavandarien high school, white oppression, diversity class
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