Saturday Night Live’s race problem (Participation)

Saturday Night Live’s race problem

It’s not just the numbers — “SNL” has a white-dominated perspective, and that may not change any time soon

By

Originally Published at Salon

Entering its 39th season this weekend, “Saturday Night Live” has become one of the longest-running television shows in American history. The sketch comedy show, which established itself in the ’70s as edgy and countercultural, continues to thrive in an industry ruled by neurotic executives and fickle audiences, pulling in higher ratings on Saturday nights than any other show on television. But with the recent departures of Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis and, in upcoming months, Seth Meyers, the show is going through one of the biggest shakeups in its history, gambling on six new members who will hopefully be able to carry the show forward.

Brooks Whelan, Noël Wells, Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, John Milhiser and Mike O’Brien, hand-picked by “SNL’s” creator and producer, Lorne Michaels, are conspicuously homogenous: All six performers are white. Five are men. Four hail from comedy school Upright Citizens Brigade.

Despite its purported edginess, “SNL” has faced criticism for its lack of diversity since its inception, said Ronald Becker, an associate professor in Media, Journalism, and Film at the Miami University of Ohio and co-editor of the upcoming collection of essays “Saturday Night Live and American TV.” According to Becker, early “SNL” was about “a baby boomer, white, male counterculture fighting an older generation of white male comedy.  It was more a generational counterculture, and had very little to do with racial diversity or gender diversity, or gender sensibility in comedy.”

But good comedy, as so many comedians will tell you, is honest. And diversity in comedy is essential to honesty, especially in a country that’s more diverse than it’s ever been. Andrew Alexander, the CEO of one of the most prominent comedy breeding grounds in the country, Second City, realized the importance of diversity on the stage when he witnessed the Los Angeles race riots in 1992. “I went to see our improv set,” Alexander told Salon, “and it was six white actors trying to struggle with how to creatively and comedically talk about the riots. They were having a real challenge because it was all white and there was no racially diverse individual in that cast to give us that point of view to make the comedy work authentically.”

“SNL’s” all-white, predominantly male casting call got some minor criticism, but many defended the decision by arguing that the cast of 16 performers, which currently includes three people of color (and six women), approximately reflects the demographics of a nation in which white people are the majority. (Though, according to the Census Bureau, not for much longer.) This logic is a common defense within the industry. Alexander also argues that there isn’t a large enough pool of minority comedians to pick from: “I think any producer will tell you that they would like a bigger pool to draw from. I think we’re just a reflection, so I assume that people who are producing television shows do wish there was a larger pool to draw from.” (NBC declined to comment on “SNL” for this story.)

But people who complain that the pool of minority comedians in America is too small are “looking at the country club pool. They’re not going to the public pool,” said W. Kamau Bell, host of the nightly FX comedy show “Totally Biased,” which tackles politics, current events and race and is produced by “SNL” alumnus Chris Rock.

The diversity problem becomes much clearer when you look at it not from an audience’s perspective, but from a comedian’s. Bell’s goal as a child was to be on “SNL,” citing Rock and Eddie Murphy as inspirations. But as his comedy developed, he started to wonder, “Huh, how come there are only ever one or two black people [on SNL]?”

“If you’re a white guy, and you take classes at UCB, hang out at UCB, you know, that can be enough,” he said. But if you’re “not a white guy, [you] do not want to put all your eggs in one basket.” (In a recent Hollywood Reporter profile, “Will and Grace’s” Todd Milliner, who lost a television show host audition to Aisha Tyler, dropped a troubling but revealing joke: “When an African-American woman takes your spot and you’re a white guy, it’s time to hang it up.”)

Having only one or two minority cast members is essentially implementing a quota. This tokenizes minorities, said Teja Arboleda, an assistant professor at the New England Institute of Art and producer of the PBS documentary “Crossing the Line: Multiracial Comedians,” who framed the problem in broader terms: “If you’re in a wheelchair most likely you’re going to make jokes about being in a wheelchair.  You’re not going to go onstage and just make jokes, because people are going to ask, ‘What are you doing here?’  But if you’re a white male, and you go onstage you don’t have to explain anything at all.  And there are so many comedians out there who are very funny, who never get heard because they have to explain themselves.”

This is why “SNL’s” diversity problem cannot necessarily be solved solely by hiring more black, Asian or lesbian comics — because diversity is not about fulfilling quotas, it’s about broadening the perspective of the show. And historically,  Bell noted, the kind of comedy “SNL” does has a narrow perspective. “SNL” is “rooted in the tradition of schools like UCB and Second City, and doesn’t necessarily appeal to or include people with other perspectives,” he said.

“There are different styles of comedy,” explained Bell. “So it’s not like you can say, ‘Hey, people of color!  Come do comedy at UCB or Second City,’ because the fact is that the content that comes out of those places is not necessarily the type of content those performers want to create.

“I’m not mad at any of these places. I’ve performed at all of them. But when I do, I know what I’m getting into. I know that when I’m at UCB I perform in a way that’s totally different than a ‘Totally Biased’ crowd,” he said.

Take, for example, Issa Rae’s critically acclaimed Web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” which was recently picked up by HBO. “UCB and Second City and even ‘SNL’ don’t have a history of speaking to what it is to be an awkward black woman in America. So they probably wouldn’t know where to put that,” said Bell. That’s also why Rock, an “SNL” performer in the early 1990s, left the show after only three seasons to work on “In Living Color.”  In 2011 he told Marc Maron, “I wanted to be in an environment where I didn’t have to translate the comedy I wanted to do.”

“SNL’s” perspective has brought it mainstream success, however, and therefore is not likely to change much. “Let’s say you get a really cool, great multiracial cast and an interesting skit,” hypothesized Becker. “Is the audience of ‘Saturday Night Live’ going to tune in, or are they going to go elsewhere?  And would you be able to attract a new audience?  It’s really hard to attract a new audience nowadays, let alone keep your core audience.  And is the core audience of ‘Saturday Night Live’ going to like that kind of humor?  That’s just an unknown question and television producers don’t like unknown questions.

“I think there’s lots of parts of America that could care less about ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Becker added. “Lots of African-Americans, lots of gays and lesbians.  They don’t really expect things from ‘Saturday Night Live’ and they don’t really care if they’re on it, because ‘Saturday Night Live’ is just one of the many shows that are on television.  But there is a way that because ‘Saturday Night Live’ – and here lies sort of a trap – because ‘Saturday Night Live’ has this history/legacy and a touchstone of sorts and is a relatively affluent white majority it does have a sort of cultural power that other comedy outlets don’t have.  But its power comes from its own exclusive appeal.”

Paradoxically, as long as “SNL” exists, so will the push for more shows like “Totally Biased” and “Awkward Black Girl,”  which are part of today’s counterculture, said Becker. “And in some ways their counterculture credibility is established against ‘Saturday Night Live’s’ white, all-male narrow appeal and sensibility.”

So how can you achieve mainstream success if you’re a comedian whose work doesn’t fall into “SNL’s” vision of comedy? Bell suggests that “one is to go directly into the belly of the mainstream, like Shonda Rhimes, and then realize, ‘I have to be better, faster, stronger’ than most people.” Or you can make your own content and wait for the mainstream to find it. “That’s basically what happened to me. I wasn’t an Internet star, but I was making my own content at a handful of places around the country, and eventually, fortunately Chris Rock saw it. I was actively not depending on the mainstream to put food on my table,” said Bell. He hopes that “Totally Biased” can build an institution for minority voices.

But there’s still a long way to go, as “chasing people of color” puts a lot of pressure on today’s rising comics.  “Whereas,” Bell argued, “nobody is saying, ‘Man, Jason Sudeikis is really a credit to the white race.’”

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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Job Discrimination Article (Participation)

 Local ‘Because you’re black’: Framboise Patisserie in Middle Village, Queens, hit with $25,000 in fines, penalties in discrimination case

By AND / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Originally published at NY Daily News

Jamilah DaCosta, 25, said she cried in her car after the interview at the bakery.

At the Framboise Patisserie in Middle Village, Queens, the pastries are elegant, the cakes are custom-made — and city officials say the hiring is discriminatory.

“I can’t hire you because you’re black,” Jamilah DaCosta, 25, said she heard when she applied for a job working the counter at the cozy French bake shop.

The Rego Park woman interviewed with co-owner Patty Meimetea in October 2011 but was told she wouldn’t be a good fit for the “counter girl” position because black workers in the front of the store would scare away customers, according to findings by the city Human Rights Commission.

After an investigation and a trial, the commission last week fined the bakery $25,000 for racial and gender discrimination for weeding out DaCosta because of her race and discouraging men from applying for the job with a gender-specific “counter girl” ad on Craigslist.

“I felt hurt. I was disgusted,” DaCosta said of her experience at Framboise Patisserie. “Before I could even pull out my resume or start a formal interview, she was telling me all this negative stuff — she couldn’t hire me because I was black, I would scare away her customers.”

According to DaCosta and the commission, when DaCosta came in for the interview, Meimetea quickly started quizzing her about her nationality. DaCosta said she was American, but after the owner pressed her, she said she was Jamaican and Lebanese, according to the decision.

She told DaCosta her husband would be angry if she hired a black worker for the counter — and said she would hire her if there were a job open in the kitchen, where no one would see her.

She also suggested applying for a job at another Queens bakery where bosses wouldn’t care what the workers look like — and told DaCosta to look at the pictures hanging around the bakery, pointing out they were all of white people.

A shaken DaCosta cried in her car after the disastrous interview.

“They’re not judging me on my personality, but my skin color. What century are we living in?” she said. “I thought I had thick skin, I thought I could withstand anything, but it just completely broke me down.”

The owners denied making racist remarks — and insist DaCosta is lying. “Of course this is not true,” Meimetea said in a brief interview.

Meimetea’s husband and co-owner AJ Saputhanthri said that DaCosta was not hired because the shop had already filled the position and added that DaCosta didn’t have the necessary experience.

“I can’t hire somebody who worked at McDonald’s,” he said. “She don’t even know what is the cookie dough.”

Saputhanthri added that he found any charges of racism absurd, because he himself is from Sri Lanka. “I want the human rights judge to look at me and tell me I look like a white,” he said.

Saputhanthri even accused DaCosta herself of racism, saying she assumed his wife, Meimetea, was racist because she looked white. Meimetea is Greek.

“It’s never true. I swear to you,” he said. “I respect everybody. I don’t do anything bad to people.”

“They want only money,” he said of city officials. “I’m a simple man living simple, working hard … They want to take my money away.”

The commission found the pair’s denials weren’t credible, noting they admitted they had never hired a black person or a man to work the counter in the three years they had been in business, though Saputhanthri said the bakery now has two black employees, including one at the counter.

“Respondents’ actions were blatant violations,” the commission wrote in its decision. “Meimetea’s statements to Ms. DaCosta were cruelly and flagrantly bigoted and demeaning.”

The $25,000 penalty the commission ordered the bakery to pay includes $10,000 in damages to DaCosta, a $10,000 fine for racial discrimination for the shop’s treatment of DaCosta, and a $5,000 fine for gender discrimination for the “counter girl” ad.

 

The hatemonger next door (Participation)

The hatemonger next door

From remote Montana, clean-cut Richard Spencer is trying to make white separatism respectable

By

Originally Published at Salon

The hatemonger next doorRichard B. Spencer (Credit: Courtesy National Policy Institute)

Richard Spencer sat sipping his chai latte at the Red Caboose, a train-themed coffee shop in downtown Whitefish, Mont. Clean-cut and restrained, he reminded me of a hundred outdoors-obsessed people I had known growing up here in the Flathead Valley, a resort area nestled in the shadows of Glacier National Park.

But Spencer’s tidy appearance is about more than his sense of propriety; it’s a recruitment tool. Spencer advocates for white separatism and he wants to shake his movement’s  reputation for brutality and backwardness.

“We have to look good,” Spencer said, adding that if his movement means ”being part of something that is crazed or ugly or vicious or just stupid, no one is going to want to be a part of it.” Those stereotypes of “redneck, tattooed, illiterate, no-teeth” people, Spencer said, are blocking his progress. Organizations that monitor domestic hate groups say it’s just this unthreatening approachability that makes Spencer so insidious.

Spencer says now, more than ever, it falls to people like him to be engaged and savvy if America is going to combat the growing threat of diversity. In particular, he’s irritated by the rise of U.S. minority births, which outnumbered white births for the first time in 2011.

“People have not really grasped that. Even if we shut off all immigration, the country is going to demographically undergo a tremendous transformation,” Spencer said. White people “need to start thinking about a new ethno-state that we would want to be a part of. This is not going to happen in the next election or in the next 10 years probably, but something in the future that would be for our great grandchildren.”

He’s open to founding a such an “ethno-state” in various locations in North America and even on the moon. Until then he’s found a home in this corner of the mountain West, where I grew up. At present, 96 percent of the population in Whitefish’s Flathead County is white.

Under the auspices of his blandly named  National Policy Institute, Spencer is working to create an intellectual class of white separatists. The organization’s editorial unit publishes “scientifically-based” books like “Race Differences in Intelligence” and “The Perils of Diversity.” The group rejects the calls for violence, which appear in Internet chat rooms and public campaigns of hate. Spencer prefers a more professorial approach of publishing books and organizing conferences. “Our goal is to form an intellectual community around European nationalism,” he wrote in an email.

Spencer and I emailed and spoke on the phone over a period of four months before I’d asked to meet him. I was living in Washington, but was planning a trip back home. Over the phone, he’d seemed radical. In person, he was easier to take, in conversation he meandered from D.C. landmarks and comic books to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Then we crashed into eugenics.

“We are undergoing a sad process of degeneration,” he said, coming back to minority births in the U.S. “We will need to reverse it using the state and the government. You incentivize people with higher intelligence, you incentivize people who are healthy to have children. And it sounds terrible and nasty, but there would be a great use of contraception.”

He didn’t mean the government should encourage people to use birth control pills and condoms. He was advocating for some type of government-forced sterilization.

“They could still enjoy sex. You are not ruining their life,” Spencer said.

Until this moment, I was alarmed by the number of times I had found myself nodding along with him. Spencer waxed indignant at the conquest of big box stores. And his obsession with clean living sounded like the house rules of a college co-op. Yes, I knew his views, but they were easy to forget until you breached the topic. But the way he called for a white ethno-state and forced sterilization chilled me. I had never heard anyone speak so calmly about something so abhorrent.

Spencer’s finesse may owe to the fact that he’s familiar with the culture he has come to despise. He didn’t grow up in a like-minded household. In fact he jokes that his parents probably “don’t agree” with his work entirely. Spencer, who’s now 35, came to embrace his ideology as a student at the University of Virginia and then continued further out on the ideological spectrum. He then obtained a master’s degree in humanities from the University of Chicago.

After a brief stint as an English teacher in Virginia, Spencer landed a job as an assistant editor at American Conservative magazine and later joined Taki’s Magazine, a paleoconservative webzine that gives a conservative take on politics and popular culture.

The site has come under fire in the past for promoting racist content. During the Trayvon Martin trial, it published an article by John Derbyshire that instructed white parents to encourage their children to stay out of predominately black neighborhoods and warned them to scrutinize black politicians more than whites. (The conservative magazine National Review fired Derbyshire after he wrote this screed.)

In 2010, Spencer founded  AlternativeRight, a webzine that promotes “heretical perspectives on society and culture.”  The next year, he took over as the chairman of the National Policy Institute and moved it to Montana. He has since became a speaker to like-minded audiences and gives regular video addresses on his website.

Spencer has appeared at the National Press Club in Washington and hosted Web seminars with Jared Taylor, a similarly polished promoter of what Taylor calls “race-realism,” and South African Dan Roodt, who has spent his life promoting Afrikaner rights and culture.  Spencer has spoken before Youth for Western Civilization, a student group that once took credit for chalking “white pride” around the campus of Towson University in Maryland.

In October, Spencer is hosting an international conference called “After the Fall: The Future of Identity” at the Reagan Building in Washington.

With me, he was slow to unmask his feeling about race. But around sympathizers he has been forthright.

During the American Renaissance conference in April, Spencer said, “The ideal I advocate is the creation of a White Ethno-State on the North American continent,” an idea he called “perfectly feasible.” During this speech he quoted Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, and said, “I have a dream.”

He also said: “Today, in the public imagination, ‘ethnic-cleansing’ has been associated with civil war and mass murder (understandably so).  But this need not be the case.  1919 is a real example of successful ethnic redistribution — done by fiat, we should remember, but done peacefully.” This is true if you consider setting the stage for World War II successful.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, the executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, a group promoting cultural understanding and diversity in the state, says Spencer has stayed out of the community headlines, but says he shares the same goal as other white separatists in the area: to make the area all white. Spencer, she added, is waging a marketing campaign that repackages a classic brand of hate and selling it as a benign intellectual study. The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified Spencer as a leading academic racist.

For his part, Spencer rejects the notion that he is driven by hatred and considers “racist” a “slur word.” (“I guess ‘academic racist’ means: ‘We don’t like you … but you’re kinda smart.’  So, I guess I should take it as a compliment!” he wrote in an email.)

His website is evidence of his own duality. On the National Policy Institute’s home page, a photo of an attractive family gives the impression that the site is just another family values foundation, but if you click on the photo, a dark video depicting riots, shouting blacks and burning buildings unveils what NPI is really about.

The organization seeks to preserve the “heritage, identity and future of European people in the United States and Around the World.”  The “lesbians” and “Latinos” have advocates working for them, so why shouldn’t whites, Spencer asks in the video.

In the video, his voice is mixed over a metallic soundtrack as he intones, “As long as whites continue to avoid and deny their racial identity at a time when almost every other ethnic category is rediscovering and asserting its own, whites will have no chance to resist their disposition.”

This approach is far more sophisticated than that of the dozens of white supremacists who have moved to the Flathead Valley in recent years, as part of a shambolic effort to establish a white “ethno-state” there.

Spencer doesn’t interact much with the others in Montana. His supporters are younger and scattered around the world, from India to France. When I asked Spencer about the other like-minded crusaders in the region, he dismissed them as too overtly radical.

Spencer says he has no desire to advertise his views to his neighbors. “I don’t want to get in big disputes with anyone in Whitefish,” he says. “I would like this to be a place where I have a little bit of an anonymous status.”

“Our job is not to be reactionary in the sense that blacks commit a lot of crime or ‘we don’t like Mexican immigrants.’ All that stuff is real, but we don’t want to be any stupider than that and say, ‘Mussolini is my homeboy,’” Spencer says. “We need to be ahead of the game.”

Packing up, Spencer and I walked slowly out of the coffee shop together, returning to earlier conversations about Washington politics. As we shook hands and parted ways, I turned briefly to get a glimpse of him walking away. I couldn’t help being surprised that that same well-manicured man had just expressed so much hate.

Lauren M. Fox is a political reporter for U.S, News and World Report where she covers Congress. Follow her on Twitter @foxreports.

Playing ‘Indian’ and Color-Blind Racism (Participation)

Playing ‘Indian’ and Color-Blind Racism

September 20, 2013
Originally Published at Indian Country

We all know it’s that time of year. I wrote about it around the same time last year. Since then, we’ve won some battles, but also lost some, too. Here are just a few examples: Paul Frank Industries is collaborating with Native Designers and Gap pulled its Manifest Destiny T-shirt, yet CBS refused to apologize for offensive dialogue on Mike & Molly and Dan Snyder, the owner of that Washington football team, said he will “NEVER” change the name. Just the other day, my daughter sent me this link depicting the “sassy squaw” tween costume for Halloween, copyrighted for 2013.

Since the mid 1990s, race scholars have argued that after the U.S. Civil Rights era overtly racist acts gave way to color-blind (covert) racism. In other words, it was no longer socially acceptable to express blatantly racist views or use the n-word and call people other bad words in public. People now speak in coded language, utilizing “colorblind” language to discriminate. White folk claim that, since they don’t see color, so their actions can’t possibly be racist. This logic allows them to explain away education, income, and health disparities for people of color. Political and economic inequalities can be painted as the result of individual failings and cultural weaknesses.

Natives do experience the covertness of color-blind racism that limits life opportunities. Under the logic of colorblind racism, if I don’t make as much money as a white woman who does the same job, it’s because I’m not as experienced or competent. If Natives, on average, have less college attainment, it’s has nothing to do with the 500+ years of internal colonization and genocide or the eras of removal, relocation, reservation internment, and forced boarding school attendance. It’s because Indians are lazy drunks. No thought is given to historical context or constrained opportunities. Race scholars admit that marginalized groups still experience inequality, but argue that racism is expressed increasingly without direct racist terminology.

But this certainly does not hold true for Indigenous Peoples in the U.S. We also routinely experience overt racism in the form of racial epithets like redskin, injun or squaw and horribly distorted depictions of Natives as mascots, reminiscent of the propaganda used against black, Irish and Jewish people in the 19th and 20th centuries. And this overt racism is not confined to hate groups, but is visible in everyday communication and throughout the media.

We still live under the prevalence of Native misrepresentations in the media, archaic notions of Indianness, and the federal government’s appropriation of Indian names and words as code for military purposes. Racist informal statements are common expressions—statements like being an “Indian-giver,” sitting “Indian-style,” learning to count through the “one little, two little, three little Indians” song, or getting together to “pow wow” over a business idea.

While minstrel shows have long been criticized as racist, American children are still socialized into playing Indian. Columbus Day celebrations, Halloween costumes, and Thanksgiving reenactments stereotype Indigenous Peoples as one big distorted culture. We are relegated to racist stereotypes and cultural caricatures.

Why is racism against Natives hardly recognized or pointed out by non-Native people, especially non-Native scholars? It’s important to remember that academics are people first, and scholars second, and just as susceptible to internalizing phrases like “it’s about time to circle the wagons” when feeling under scrutiny or vulnerable. Historically, Native Peoples were portrayed as savages, Native women as sexually-permissive, and Native culture as engendering laziness. Therefore, non-Native race scholars, influenced by hundreds of years of playing Indian, may fail to check their assumptions.

In his book, The Racial Contract, Charles W. Mills states that only recently have scholars been confronted “with the uncomfortable fact, hardly discussed in mainstream moral and political theory, that we live in a world which has been foundationally shaped for the past five hundred years by the realities of European domination and the gradual consolidation of global white supremacy.

Finally, it’s important to note that Indigenous Peoples are not a race, of course. We belong to distinct, sovereign Native Nations. I often explain that lumping all of us together just because we’re from the same continent makes no sense. Non-Native people wouldn’t lump people from Germany with people from Italy on the continent of Europe or people from Russia with people from Vietnam on the continent of Asia. Geographic location, culture, and language matter. Yet, no matter how we identify culturally, it seems that, especially in the media, non-Natives still see us as all the same.

Make no mistake. Playing Indian is racist—in no way different from wearing blackface or participating in minstrel shows—because it collapses our distinct cultures into one stereotypical racialized group. Even worse, because playing Indian is deemed socially acceptable (e.g., normal), any other racial or ethnic group may now participate—without ever recognizing the inherent racism in doing so.

Dwanna L. Robertson is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University, a writer for Indian Country Today Media Network, and a public sociologist.

 

‘White Privilege’ Lesson In Delavan-Darien High School Class In Wisconsin Draws Ire (participation)

‘White Privilege’ Lesson In Delavan-Darien High School Class In Wisconsin Draws Ire (participation)

White Privilege Class

A Wisconsin high school is under fire after a parent accused a diversity class of promoting a critical race theory, alleging that students are being taught that minorities are disadvantaged by white oppressors, Fox News reports.

Delavan-Darien High School’s “American Diversity” course aims to help students “better understand oneself and recognize how feelings, ideas and beliefs interact with the ideas and beliefs of other individuals and groups,” according to the school’s website. By studying American society through the connections among culture, ethnicity, race, religion and gender issues, the course seeks to “create a more accurate picture of modern America.”

But an unnamed parent tells Fox News that assignments and class worksheets seem like “indoctrination.” A handout gives students a definition of “white privilege,” which appears to be taken from a book by the same name:

In critical race theory, white privilege is a set of advantages that are believed to be enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by non-white people in the same social, political, and economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.). 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.

“They’re teaching white guilt,” the parent told Fox News. “They’re dividing the students. They’re saying to non-whites, ‘You have been oppressed and you’re still being oppressed.’”

Click over to Fox News for more on the outcry and the school’s response.

Another worksheet published by The New Guard, a blog on conservative youth organization Young America’s Foundation, is an excerpt from Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” listing examples of racial privilege. Among them: “I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color” and “I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race”

Yet another assignment asked questions of a lecture by anti-racism activist and writer Tim Wise, inquiring, “Why is the colorblind model of American ineffective,” “Why is it important to talk about whiteness in America,” and “Explain the irony of the phrase ‘United We Stand.’”

To apply the lesson to the real world, students were allegedly told to go to a Wal-Mart and count the number of dolls in the toy section that represented blacks versus whites. Superintendent Robert Crist says there is merit to parental concern.

“A lot of red flags go up in my mind when I look at the materials,” Crist told Fox News. “Ideally, you would want to present one theory that might be way on the left and another theory that may be way on the right and if you find one in the middle you can present that too … now you have a well-rounded discussion, in my opinion.”

The course will not be offered at the school again until the district evaluates the curriculum.

In Portland, Ore. last September, Harvey Scott K-8 School Principal Verenice Gutierrez drew national attention for tying the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to white privilege during equity training in district schools.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez said, according to the Portland Tribune. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

To be sure, the U.S. Department of Education recently examined racial inequity in a survey of 72,000 schools. Findings revealed that minority students tend to face harsher disciplinary actions and are more likely to be taught by lower paid teachers with less experience than white students.

Invisible Knapsack (Online Writings)

Peggy Knapsack provides a list of privileges. Continue this list, adding examples of race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, nationality, age, etc. privilege.  You should give at least 10 examples and diverse examples, providing specifics examples with detail and depth.  Conclude with a discussion of these privileges as they relate to your own experiences.  Make sure you follow same format as her list

 

Last day to participate October 10

10 EXAMPLES