A taxpayer-supported conference that trains teachers of public schools and universities how to “dismantle” the “white privilege” and “white supremacy” in American schools being held in Wisconsin refused to allow a reporter to attend its sessions, claiming that the conference was a “private function.”
The White Privilege Conference, held from March 25 to 29 in Madison, Wisconsin, is a conference geared toward educating the state’s teachers on how to destroy all that white power coursing through the school system.
In its explanation of its goals, the White Privilege Conference website says, “WPC is a conference that examines challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solutions and team building strategies to work toward a more equitable world.”
The Wisconsin Reporter’s Adam Tobias tried to gain entry to report on the conference and see where local tax dollars were going. However, while trying to register for the event he met various levels of resistance, was put off from registering, then eventually barred at the door and denied access.
Tobias tried to find a way to register online before the conference began, but there was no place to register as a member of the media. He tried emailing and calling conference officials but never got any calls back. He eventually tried to register in person on the days of the events. On the first day of the event he was told to “come back later,” and when he came back he was told he was “too late” to register.
All the while, Tobias alleges, conference officials knew exactly who he was, knew that he was a critic of the conference, and barred him entrance based on his work.
In explanation, conference officials claimed that they didn’t have to let him in to report on the sessions because it was a “private event,” not a taxpayer-funded, public one. However, this is not entirely true. While the White Privilege Conference is a private organization, every year thousands of dollars in local tax money go to help fund the event.
As Tobias reported, the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, where the event was being held, was helping fund the conference with an $18,375 booking event assistance payment, money that comes from a fund drawn from local hotel room tax revenue.
Not only that, but several local school districts are paying thousands in registration fees, hotel stays, and transportation costs for teachers and administrators to attend this conference. Those are also tax dollars being spent.
The White Privilege Conference does more to hide what it is doing from the public than merely preventing media from reporting on its activities. Even on the conference schedule on its website, WPC hides its discussion topics.
Anyone who has ever attended a conference knows that panels, keynote speeches, and breakout sessions always have catchy titles to inform attendees what they might hear at any given time so that they can choose what sessions to attend. Yet on the White Privilege Conference schedule all that are listed are generic session names like “concurrent workshops” and “caucus and support groups.”
In this way, the conference shields the actual conference topics from prying Internet eyes. Better to hide what they are doing than to invite controversy by telling website visitors what they are really talking about, apparently.
However, conference organizers probably didn’t expect that a group of Quakers who support and attend the event would list the session names on its own website.
Thus we see that the 2014 White Privilege Conference will sponsor such workshops as “White on White: Communicating about Race and White Privilege Using Critical Humility,” or “Our Bodies Know the Way: Using Cellular Wisdom to Dismantle Whiteness and Live in Deep Community.” And then there is “White Women: Internalized Sexism and White Superiority.” Then the important “Climate-Change-Mind-Set: Replacing White Liberalism with Racial Justice As Our Communities Organize in Response to Climate Change.” These, along with classes teaching educators how to propagandize to middle school and high schoolers, presumably were conducted at the Madison event.
The White Privilege Conference is now entering its 15th year, and past conferences featured such “educational” segments as teaching that America had a “toxic cultural environment” in its schools and that the answer to that toxicity was to eliminate “corporate” influence and to quash all those destructive ideas about capitalism being taught to kids.
As in past years, tax-funded schools pay out thousands of taxpayer-supplied education dollars to organizers of this conference for the privilege of attending the White Privilege Conference. This is hardly a “private event” free of tax dollars.
Niger Innis, a black civil rights leader and a national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, noted that the Constitution allows for this sort of conference, but he opposes the waste of tax dollars to support it.
“The First Amendment allows Nazis and white extremists to do what they are going to do, and it allows for black extremists and all other types of extremists to do what they are going to do,” Innis told Tobias. “I understand that and I’m not opposed to that. But I am opposed to using other people’s money – taxpayer money – for this useless agenda.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.