University lecturers are being asked to attend workshops to help them understand how their ‘whiteness’ makes them unwittingly racist.
Classes at UK universities are telling lecturers to acknowledge their ‘white privilege’ and examine the idea that white people enjoy advantages in life simply because of the colour of their skin.
Posters for the seminars say that black staff and students are discriminated against regularly. A session at Bristol University, hosted by the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff Advisory Group, said it would ask lecturers to ‘examine and acknowledge the destructive role of whiteness’.
Flyers for the event, called Walking On The ‘White’ Side Of The Street, said: ‘We will look at it as a day-to-day reality of white privilege that causes daily “aggressions” towards people of colour.
‘We discuss why white people accrue advantages and benefits simply due to the colour of their skin and how whiteness as a discriminatory force is as prevalent today as it was 400 years ago.’
A workshop at Anglia Ruskin University in East Anglia, entitled Privilege: The Truth We Don’t Tell Ourselves, asked participants to face ‘our privilege in an honest manner and understand exactly how we benefit from a racist system’.
It warns staff and students that the seminar ‘seeks to expose the truth about the privileges we unknowingly carry with us in everyday life… the ideas presented might make you feel uncomfortable’.
York St John University held a masterclass for staff called Learning And Unlearning Whiteness in November. Figures have shown that black and ethnic minority students are more likely to quit university but are less likely to be awarded a top degree than white classmates.
Just 85 of 15,905 professors in the UK are black, according to a 2015 report by the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think-tank.
Similar workshops about white privilege on US campuses prompted students to put up posters saying: ‘It’s OK to be white.’
Sociologist Frank Furedi warned that the concept in effect labelled every white person as racist. ‘Whiteness is the equivalent of original sin, and white racism inescapable,’ he told the Sunday Times. It comes as Britain’s first black university vice-chancellor backed students who demanded the removal of a Cecil Rhodes statue at Oxford University.
Baroness Amos, head of Soas, University of London, said students were within their rights to ‘raise questions about the role some people have had in our history’.
The Rhodes Must Fall campaign lobbied university officials to dismantle a statue of the Victorian imperialist at Oriel College.
Baroness Amos said: ‘I don’t think there’s anything that says because you put a monument up to somebody many hundreds of years ago it has to stay like that permanently.’
– Daily Mail