The Incompetent Historical Understanding of White Supremacists

By | January 19, 2015

Recently someone wrote elsewhere that white privilege is a myth, and that as a white male he was certainly not privileged in his lifestyle.

He wrote this before the events in Ferguson which occurred after the grand jury failed to indict Officer Wilson, but recent events apparently have not changed his mind.

I do not know what kind of history is taught at the University of Virginia, but it is an incompetent one if it fails to teach a history of America that includes the experiences of black Americans, specifically the experience of capture, chattel slavery, Jim Crow, and even the continuing de facto segregation of black Americans from full, equal and non-confrontational participation in all of American life.

One of the key things a school should do, in my opinion, is not merely expose students to new facts—a school’s curriculum should also expose students to the way other people think, feel, and live. A well-rounded educational experience should include more than just a longer list of memorized facts to support an already confirmed position. A school – especially one that claims to be a world-class university – should help students open their minds to the larger world around them.

It is simply impossible to get an education in a modern American university and still believe that white privilege does not exist. It is simply ignorance, and it is ignorance that is deliberately chosen by the student.

While it can be difficult for white Americans to include friendships and relationships with people of color, it can be done – and it should be possible at a university, especially one such as the University of Virginia, to not only be exposed to the presence of people of color, but also to build relationships and come to an understanding of the lives of these mysterious people around white people that some white students apparently know nothing about.