Patterico's Pontifications

1/27/2015

The Problem Of Whiteness

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:56 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Arizona State University is offering a new class titled U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness , the goal of which appears to be to to illustrate how white people are the root cause of all social injustices in our country. Like we didn’t already know that.

The required reading materials for the class are also no surprise: “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado, “Everyday Language of White Racism” by Jane Hill, “Alchemy of Race & Rights” by Patricia Williams, and “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness” by George Lipsitz.

ASU released a statement explaining the class:

This course uses literature and rhetoric to look at how stories shape people’s understandings and experiences of race. It encourages students to examine how people talk about – or avoid talking about – race in the contemporary United States. This is an interdisciplinary course, so students will draw on history, literature, speeches and cultural changes – from scholarly texts to humor. The class is designed to empower students to confront the difficult and often thorny issues that surround us today and reach thoughtful conclusions rather than display gut reactions. A university is an academic environment where we discuss and debate a wide array of viewpoints.”

So, for $10,000 a year, you, too, can discover how bad white people are.

–Dana

48 Responses to “The Problem Of Whiteness”

  1. Hello.

    And of course… racists!

    Dana (8e74ce)

  2. Say it out and say it loud,
    I’m a Maniot and I’m proud.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. Any college course that is titled “The Problem of Whiteness” is a big problem right off the bat. There is probably course material that would be interesting to compile and analyze from an historical context ( both far and recent) to help students see where we are today and how we got here in order to help them anticipate what works and what does not work in “confronting issues”. It is possible that in the hands of a competent and non-agenda driven history or social studies teacher students could learn worthwhile things to apply to their contemporary experiences and observations. But that title??????? and that course description ??????—OMG.

    elissa (d37ab6)

  4. I’m not all that concerned that white students might feel “oppressed” or “triggered” by the course. What bothers me is that this course is most likely touchy-feely white liberal grandstanding wrapped in pseudo-intellectualism so no real learning will take place, only crude political indoctrination. It’s a complete waste of taxpayer subsidies and student tuition dollars. Would it surprise anyone if I told you the professor of this course also teaches courses in Chicano/a Studies, American Studies, and Critical Race Theory? Clearly ASU has at least one more English professor than they really need.

    JVW (60ca93)

  5. Any college course that is titled “The Problem of Whiteness” is a big problem right off the bat.

    The dirty little secret of academics is that they develop catchy/provocative course titles and descriptions as a way of getting mush-minded undergraduates to sign up for their worthless courses. They are worse than most click-bait blog posts or obnoxious advertisements.

    JVW (60ca93)

  6. According to the report, the instructor “the last 24 hours have been stressful with some of the vitriolic hate-mail that I have received.”

    Dana (8e74ce)

  7. A few weeks ago I saw a Youtube of a sermon of a young rising well thought of evangelical pastor explain the reality of white privilege to the congregation, giving it as undeniable fact and something people needed to grapple with.
    I was not happy to see that, and refused to think about it long enough to get me upset.

    I have a perspective on race, culture and Christianity, but will not indulge myself or inflict your eyes.
    The basic idea is not that all cultures are equally good,
    but all cultures are in various ways corrupted,
    and reflective interaction between cultures in humility is helpful for those seeking to make the culture of the Kingdom of God the goal.
    And the person I saw would apparently say I was being insensitive and in denial.
    But I know others wouldn’t,
    like that fellow from Simi valley whose rant will saw after Ferguson.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  8. Dana, this is seven years old now, but let me remind you of some courses taught by the institution at which POTUS spent two years?

    http://www.latimes.com/news/la-op-allen7jan07-story.html#page=1

    Weirdness abounds in the liberal arts.

    Simon Jester (cb4fce)

  9. One wonders how a professor would even possibly be able to grade the coursework output for this class. Oh, that’s right. Everybody gets an A for showing up .

    elissa (d37ab6)

  10. Actually, elissa, you should hear professors of such courses discuss grading. It’s surreal.

    Simon Jester (cb4fce)

  11. 6. Dana, if they would just run these idiotic course ideas past me before announcing them I could save these people a lot of grief and heartache.

    elissa (d37ab6)

  12. Play the Substitution Game. How receptive would ASU be to a course entitled “U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Blackness”? Not very, I’d imagine. If fact, I suspect there would be screams of faux outrage and much foaming and gnashing of teeth. Can they really be this dumb? Guess a college education just ain’t what it used to be.

    Bill M (906260)

  13. Everybody who isn’t white gets an A, elissa. Whites can only hope for a C. That’s called academic justice.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  14. Que pasa, people, que pasa… hit me!
    Mama come here quick… and bring that privilege stick

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  15. Well yes, Bill M., but what I immediately thought of was something much worse—“The Jewish Problem”–, which came immediately to mind because of the commemoration this week of the freeing of Auschwitz.

    elissa (d37ab6)

  16. Until we get White Entertainment Television there will be no peace.

    Gazzer (e441dc)

  17. send your kids to vocational schools, so they have a marketable skill and minimum debt.

    redc1c4 (589173)

  18. I discussed the Griggs decision with my daughter over the weekend. Her response, “They didn’t flunk the tests because they were black, they flunked them because they were stupid”. I’m not sure she’d be right for this class.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. Simon,

    Have you seen ‘Occupy the Syllabi!’?:

    We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

    We have major concerns about social theory courses in which white men are the only authors assigned. These courses pretend that a minuscule fraction of humanity — economically privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States) — are the only people to produce valid knowledge about the world. This is absurd. The white male syllabus excludes all knowledge produced outside this standardized canon, silencing the the perspectives of the other 99 percent of humanity.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  20. Keep up the good fight with your daughter, nk. I’m still recovering from a dinner party I attended over the weekend where one of the dinner companions was a very toxic recent “college graduate” feminazi who managed to put an unpleasant pall over much of the evening for everybody. Her mother told us she got her degree in “Liberal Arts”. But the young lady immediately corrected her that it was actually “Womens Studies”–as if we couldn’t guess.

    elissa (d37ab6)

  21. Next thing you know, ASU will make this a required course. But only for people of non-color.

    Tom (abb065)

  22. Heh! She says “feminazi”. She didn’t learn it from me or her mother. I asked her and she said, “The internet”. I told her about Dana’s post about the lady who wanted more ladies’ rooms. She said, “I’m a strong, independent woman and I want men to build a bathroom for me”.

    nk (dbc370)

  23. Dana @19
    How do you occupy a piece of paper?
    And if those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, what happens to those who refuse to learn it in the first place?

    kishnevi (a5d1b9)

  24. As I went to college in the early 1970’s, conventional topics such as History of Western Civilization were eliminated from the required curriculum and replaced with courses with titles such as Love.

    How did that work out?

    AZ Bob (34bb80)

  25. Kishnevi,

    Focus! They. Were. All. White. Men.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  26. This might appear as a joke but it was published in the UC Berkeley newspaper as a plea for “an occupation of syllabi:”

    “…The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

    “We have major concerns about social theory courses in which white men are the only authors assigned. These courses pretend that a minuscule fraction of humanity — economically privileged white males from five imperial countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States) — are the only people to produce valid knowledge about the world. This is absurd. The white male syllabus excludes all knowledge produced outside this standardized canon, silencing the perspectives of the other 99 percent of humanity.”

    Read the entire opinion piece and see if you don’t agree with the last sentence:

    http://www.dailycal.org/2015/01/20/occupy-syllabus/

    AZ Bob (34bb80)

  27. so is someone like Lyanna Moreno white? don’t worry safe for work and everywhere else

    and
    wonder if this article will make the required reading?

    The Problem with Whiteness is that it is a misleading classification.

    seeRpea (1d44c7)

  28. The KKK says Greeks were the first Aryans in Europe, and that’s good enough for me. The rest of you can just work out any dubiousness in your lineages for yourselves.

    nk (dbc370)

  29. U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness

    From the vantage point of leftists — white or otherwise — who will downplay whiteness if it at least involves white liberals or leftists, and, in turn, welcome variations of the re-introduction of Jim Crow (or a cold shoulder directed at non-whites) if it involves rightists who are black or non-Caucasian.

    Mark (c160ec)

  30. Gotta wonder who is teaching this course. My money says either a white liberal (62%) on a guilt trip, or a black (woman?) (38%) who is also a supporter of “reparations”, whatever that means.

    neocon_1 (324e03)

  31. i’ve been shortchanged most of my life: where do i apply for reparations on the white privilege i never had access to?

    redc1c4 (a6e73d)

  32. Emperor Misha weighs in on the general issue

    language heads up for the faint of heart.

    redc1c4 (a6e73d)

  33. Dana #19: Yes, sadly, I have. My old alma mater is no better than Cal.

    Even my own institution has similar bizarreness. I may send you a couple of student petitions going around via Patterico; they are quite remarkable. Short form: a person in an “underrepresented group” feels that a professor who does not let he/she speak as much as they like in the class is “bigoted” and “requires re-education.” It goes downhill from there.

    The good news? Most of my science students literally roll their eyes. They are too busy in labs for this kind of stuff. But the bad news is that this weird oikophobia allows a “heckler’s veto”: one dares not disagree with the new convention.

    You know, as a scientist, we use jargon, sure. But there is something about the social sciences that appears to bring out the most stilted prose; it really reads like those “Dear Comrade” tirades in the 1950s in Eastern Europe. I just thought those were translation problems. I’m thinking otherwise.

    Simon Jester (cb4fce)

  34. So, for $10,000 a year, you, too, can discover how bad white people are.

    Especially the ones promoting this tripe/offal as though it had anything to do with an actual education.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  35. But the bad news is that this weird oikophobia allows a “heckler’s veto”: one dares not disagree with the new convention.

    You mean like this idiotic GoDaddy kerfuffel??

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  36. Everybody who isn’t white gets an A, elissa. Whites can only hope for a C. That’s called academic justice.

    Dana, you aren’t being cynical enough. The truth of courses like this is that everyone gets an “A,” even the lilly-white Republican students. Why? Because a course like this can only exist if it is easy. Even radical students — maybe especially radical students — don’t want to be challenged. Repeat the Marxist/Foucauldian psychobabble that the professor feeds into your empty head and you will be rewarded with the grade you desire.

    It breaks my heart that I can’t find the syllabus online for this course. Here is the link to the class description which includes the silly reading list, but there is no posted syllabus. What do you want to bet that there is only about 30-40 pages of reading required in any given week, and that students are required to write no more than 20 pages in the semester, notwithstanding that this course is part of the English Department?

    JVW (60ca93)

  37. When ebonics becomes the official language-
    Shoot me.

    mg (31009b)

  38. um, you do realize there are online English-Ebonics dictionaries?

    seeRpea (1d44c7)

  39. No seeRpea, I did not. I have no idea what country I’m in.
    BANG.

    mg (31009b)

  40. This article ironically follows the one about Auschwitz. They are connected by hatred and the fact that the totalitarians in both cases use race as their justification.

    Otto Maddox (990b3b)

  41. Bet there’s something in the Constitution of Arizona against discrimination by state entities such as the Arizona State University.
    Don’t know for a fact that there is but it stands to reason.
    Shall we wait for this thing to die of it’s own bigoted weight, or kill it dead with a lawsuit?

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  42. how far into the class can you even expect to get before you get boisterously raped?

    i think this class is just rapebait to lure you onto the rapeversity campus

    Do not fall for this trickery!

    happyfeet (831175)

  43. It sounds attractive, happyfeet, but I can’t move to Arizona just now.

    nk (dbc370)

  44. This appears to be another problem of Whiteness for the class to discuss:

    http://news.yahoo.com/zimbabwes-white-farmers-face-threats-evictions-133521942.html

    Oh, wait! You mean this is not what the ASU professor means by “problem”?

    elissa (c56eee)

  45. Just go review the resumes of the white guys on death row

    steveg (794291)

  46. Dear Professor Bebout:
    Regarding the following excerpt of an article I read today about your course on the “problems of whiteness:”

    “Assistant professor Lee Bebout… declined to comment Friday, writing in an e-mail that ‘the last 24 hours have been stressful with some of the vitriolic hate-mail that I have received.’”

    I am confused. Why are you surprised and stressed that some people are reacting to your teaching of a class on the problem of whiteness — not the problem of racism; not the problem of race relations, but the problem of whiteness. — with vitriolic hate? I am quite sure that if the course title included the phrase “the problem of blackness” or “what’s wrong with women” or “why gay marriage should be outlawed,” you would have had received vitriolic hate mail as well. I am surprised that you, a self-described expert on issues of race, racism and bigotry, do not know that people often respond to bigotry with vitriol.

    The course title could have included a dozen other phrases that are less inflammatory (and less bigoted) than “the problem of whiteness.” I have little doubt that this phrase was chosen because it inflames and provokes. To feign surprise and pretend that you are hurt by the very vitriolic reaction that you intended to provoke is extremely dishonest.

    By the way, how about “the problem of cultural assumptions” or “the problem of racial assumptions?” Not offensive enough?

    That radical academics like you are unable to see the irony of lecturing others about the evils of racism, bigotry and the stereotyping of individuals based on their skin color while stereotyping people with white skin as beneficiaries of privilege, is astounding.

    Pete

    Peter (1d4db1)

  47. I like being white. Being white means not having Sharpton as my leader, which it is apparently treasonous to disagree with.

    Also, I like being heterosexual. Because… girls.

    Steve57 (a04df5)

  48. Say it out and say it loud,
    I’m a Maniot and I’m proud.

    nk (dbc370) — 1/27/2015 @ 7:01 pm

    James Brown’s album “say it live and loud in Dallas” had an awesome cut of his hit. He told the blacks in the audience to say “I’m black and I’m proud” and the whites to just say “I’m proud.” What a moment in time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Knw_rUP64wM

    carlitos (c24ed5)


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