A course at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York, argues that the concept of “objectivity” is a myth created by white people.
The course, which was first reported on by Toni Airaksinen of Campus Reform, is entitled “White Mythologies: Objectivity, Meritocracy, and Other Social Constructions,” and taught by Kendralin Freeman and Jason Rodriguez of Hobart and William Smith College.
The course’s description dives into the teaching pair’s perspective on various “white mythologies,” a phrase popularized by postmodern thinker Jacques Derrida that refers to the set of beliefs and cultural truths of white Westerners.
This course explores the history and ongoing manifestations of “white mythologies” — long-standing, often implicit views about the place of White, male, Euro-American subjects as the norm against which the peoples of the world are to be understood and judged. Students will explore how systematic logics that position “the West” and “whiteness” as the ideal manifest through such social constructions as objectivity, meritocracy, and race, and as justifications for colonial interventions, slavery, and the subordination of women.
Freeman and Rodriguez and drawing on Derrida’s belief that the West’s cultural belief in “objective” truth and reason is a thinly-veiled scheme to oppress various minority groups. Hobart and Smith College is hardly the first college to push the notion that truth and objectivity are rooted in bigotry. In 2017, students at Claremont McKenna College argued that “objective truth” is a social construct devised by “white supremacists” to “attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”