According to CNS News, the Department of Public Instruction in Wisconsin is “instructing” its white volunteers for VISTA to do a bit of self examination before they go to work with impoverished people of color. And apparently a good dose of guilt is what the department has in mind. (Never mind the ominous, Orwellian ring that the name “Department of Public Instruction” has to it.) The DPI apparently wants to raise its volunteers awareness that they are white and thus privileged, and should apparently be ashamed of it. How that builds espirit de corps, I don’t know. Depressed, self loathing people don’t tend to be very productive.
The DPI has a flow chart that gives tips on how to examine oneself for white privilege, and how to deal with it. Some of the questions one should ask oneself is “What am I doing today to undo my privilege?” “How does society reinforce my taking myself off the hook?” and “What people do I need to talk to stay on the hook?” In other words, in order to be a successful and happy person, you must always hate yourself for being white and never give yourself a moment’s peace in the name of your genetics. To keep potential volunteers in a state of despair, the DPI suggests that volunteers wear a white wristband to remind themselves that they are privileged, put a note on a mirror or computer screen to remind them to think about privilege; set aside sections of their day to think about privilege (as opposed to doing their volunteer work); and make a list of ways they did or did not address the problem of privilege.
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