Dartmouth Professor: Create Mandatory ‘White Privilege’ Classes

White privilege (Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons)
Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons

A professor at Dartmouth College wants to create a mandatory course on “white privilege” for college students around the country.

Dartmouth College Professor Emily Walton argued in a recent column for USA Today that all college students should be required to take a course on “white privilege.”

Walton, a professor of sociology at Dartmouth, currently teaches a course on “white privilege.” However, Walton claims that white students rarely enroll in the course. As a result, Walton claims that many white people go through life with “racial blindness,” a condition, according to Walton, that is marked by an inability to see one’s own privilege.

As it is now, students self-select into the course, and most who do are students of color. Because white students have managed to avoid critical discussions of race their whole lives before college, they tend to see racial and ethnic inequality as “not their issue.” Rather, it is generally the students who already have an inkling of racial injustice who seek out more information, who challenge themselves to be uncomfortable every day in the process. It is also an injustice, though, that only these students take on the burden of learning about, critiquing and challenging the system of oppression.

In the column, Walton makes the case that requiring a “white privilege” course for all students would create informed citizens that are willing to fight for “racial equity.”

Requiring a course on race and ethnicity for all college students would send the message that both the university and society value the kind of learning that produces informed and critical citizens for a world after graduation. We can’t just drift into racial equity with good intentions, nor put much hope in generational change. We need to actively, purposefully take the blinders off.

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