A black student wrote that he suffered "trauma" during his fall semester at an Ivy League school over professors who didn't acknowledge their "white privilege" — in fact he said one of them “constantly perpetuated these systems of oppression," which "led to me mentally breaking down in the classroom.”
Sophomore James Fisher, who's studying communications at the University of Pennsylvania, described what he went through in an op-ed last month for the Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper.
“Last semester was honestly the worst semester I’ve had at Penn so far," he wrote. "And all because of one thing: the white professors I’ve had at Penn. It appears that the term ‘privilege’ does not apply to them. Nor do they care to learn what it is.”
Fisher said his white profs "think that by not saying racist comments in class, they are doing good." But, he said, that "halfhearted attempt further contributes to the oppression that I experience in my predominantly white classrooms."
Fisher said one prof — a "white man from the suburbs" who "showed images of slaves on plantations" — didn't acknowledge his "privilege," which "led to some of the trauma that I experienced in class."
In addition, Fisher said the professor allowed "students to say ignorant comments in class," and because he "wanted to protect the voices of the white students who benefit from black oppression, the oppression unfortunately continued. It even led to me mentally breaking down in the classroom."
More from Fisher's op-ed:
I remember having an intense conversation after class. I basically told him that what he was doing was traumatic to me, and as someone who has experienced a lot of racial trauma in his life, I would not allow him to continue. He then used the argument that, in order to make the class a “safe space,” he had to protect the voices of all students in the class.
This is where the problem arose for me. This is the same argument that #AllLivesMatter people use. They argue that everyone should be equal and that no life is more important than another, not recognizing that since we live in a society that does not value black lives, we cannot assume that everyone is on the same playing field.
“I stopped going to his class for a month," Fisher wrote. "With different emotions going through my head from not only this class but from the Trump election, I did not want to step foot into another white space until I made sure that my mental health was restored.”
These are the types of things that happen when white teachers do not want to acknowledge their privileges; they can psychologically hurt their students. It is not enough to be aware of your privilege. It is also not enough to be a nice person. Your niceness does not mean that you are not capable of contributing to racial systems of oppression.
It is not enough that you are sorry for the injustices caused by your people. It is not enough that you read one article on the Black Lives Matter movement because your black friend recommended it to you. It is not enough that you gave your black students extensions on their papers because Trump got elected.
From the looks of most of the reader comments connected with Fisher's op-ed, it would appear he doesn't exactly hold a popular view.
"Outstanding!" David Brown commented. "One of the best satires I've read to date."
"The author is a butt-hurt, candy-ass wannabe intellectual," Ernie Kaputnik added.
Roger Shouse, a Pennsylvania State University professor, said, "It's never enough, right? It will never be enough, right? Get over yourself. Your obsession with 'privilege' is dragging you down." He later added, "Read more Thomas Sowell. Your essay is like a beaver dam to constructive thinking."
"Just a thought," Dan Sereduick noted. "If you're attending an Ivy League school, isn't it a tad rich to be lecturing others on their privilege?"
(H/T: The College Fix)