A student organization at Iowa State University issued a bitter letter to the editor of the school’s student newspaper, Iowa State Daily. In the letter, the group known as Latinos United for a Change (LUCHA) suggested white ISU students to “head to the doctor” to be examined for white privilelge.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a sickness spreading at Iowa State. So the next time you use your mandatory health insurance and head to the doctor, tell him or her if you are experiencing these little-known symptoms,” the letter begins.
The “symptoms” listed in the letter include:
You can get your hair cut wherever you want.
You can walk into the supermarket and find your favorite foods.
You can see yourself positively portrayed in the media.
You can speak your native tongue without getting looks or comments from other people.
“If you have symptoms like those described above, you may want to be checked for white privilege,” the letter continues. “White privilege is like a virus. Carriers are often unaware of their infection for decades while spreading their disease to everyone they come in contact with.”
The stated goal of the letter was to address “the institutionalized white supremacy” at their ISU.
The complaint was apparently prompted by two op-eds published in Iowa State Daily, one written by a student who claimed “it is not fair for institutions to give scholarships based on race or sexual orientation,” and another written by a university employee that argued the university is “too politically correct,” and that “diversity is fought for in all areas except thought, creating a suffocating environment for those who want to think, question and test everything.”
“Both of these pieces (and many before them) use a lot of privilege reasoning behind the arguments of the authors. So this is our letter to the editor, pointing out the privilege behind those opinion pieces,” the group wrote in a Facebook post.
In their letter, LUCHA argues that “white people have spent decades building wealth while many of our ancestors were blocked from buying property, owning homes and building businesses,” and minority students need race-based scholarships to makes amends for this.
“As a result, white families have double the wealth on average than families of color, meaning we often have less financial support from our families,” they wrote.
The group then notes that they agree the First Amendment is something “we can all appreciate,” it is “dangerous” to allow certain “hateful” and “wrong” opinions to circulate on ISU’s campus.
The authors conclude their letter by addressing the “epidemic” that is white privilege, a problem so prevalent that it could never be adequately summarized in one letter:
White privilege is so ingrained in our society that there’s no way that we could cover this epidemic in one letter to the editor. But don’t be scared. While there is currently no way to cure white privilege, there are definitely ways to deal with the symptoms. Educate yourself. Don’t expect your minoritized friends to explain your privilege to you. Innoculate. Educate others. Be an ally. And rest assured that we are working hard to eradicate the disease here on campus.