Lincoln Brown

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.    

This kind of politically correct self-flagellation is unfortunately not limited to the folks in the Dairy State. I talked with a young student from University of Utah who showed me a piece of required reading that had in its questions and actions such things as: “List ways your family may have colluded with or benefited from the exploitation of African Americans”; “Work to make sure the police are adequately monitored and supervised”; and “Notice which white and contemporary problems are blamed on African Americans.” Another piece entitled “White Privilege-Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (Honestly, that is the title)  lists such things a flesh colored band-aids and using credit cards as things enjoyed by privileged whites. Oddly enough, the essay also lists speaking out against the government without being considered a cultural outsider as a privilege. They have apparently never seen the MSM coverage of the Tea Party.

Since the Wisconsin DPI also suggests getting a person of color to hold me accountable, I contacted some friends of mine at Project 21, an all-black conservative action network, to see if all of the above was a thinly veiled attempt to consolidate power or if I should genuinely hang my head in shame because of the color of my skin. Here are their replies:

“These suggestions for dealing with- and examining- "white privilege" is nothing more than an transparent attempt of liberals to leverage white guilt for the purpose of accumulating more power and integrity for social and racial justice…In my opinion, the so-called cultural diversity class at the University of Utah and the VISTA program both suffer from the same ailment- that excusing the cultural success of white Americans will have a positive and tangible net effect on the non-white people they (VISTA and Utah U) attempt to help. In other words, to "apologize" for, or examine "white privilege" amounts to a self-righteous demonstration of false-humility in an attempt to reacquire a sought after moral credibility by "well-meaning," liberal white people. It is also condescending.”

-Derryck Green

“My first impression upon reading the news article is how very racist it seems to keep reminding oneself how you are privileged and others are not. It places a superiority in being white that otherwise isn't there at least not so consciously. As long as programs and dogma like this exist the legacy of the KKK and other white supremacy advocates will forever have an ally for isn't the whole idea about equality to remind ourselves and believe that people unlike us have been created equally, rather than to continually think ourselves above them?”

Lisa Fristch

That’s from my Accountability Coaches.

As child of two 60’s liberals, I listened to my parents tell stories of marching for civil rights, and even pushing me in my stroller. So I suppose that gives me some civil rights experience. My father would tell me stories of being beaten by other white men for his position on civil rights. As a social worker, he took pride in being fluent in “street talk” and liked to wear a dashiki, perhaps as a sign of solidarity. Despite all that I never saw my parents quite as distressed over something I did than the day I came home and mentioned I had a girlfriend who was black. It was a passing high school fancy. We were two young people attracted to each other. Race didn’t figure into it for us, and our classmates didn’t bring it up, but it resonated in the Brown household, and not for the better. Instead of congratulating and supporting me for ignoring the societal barrier of race, and in fact manifesting the very values for which they marched, my liberal parents, who knew all the words to “We Shall Overcome” were in fact, apoplectic. So long as blacks remained exotic, in need of aid and at a distance, all was well and they could remain enlightened and compassionate. But as soon as their son showed signs of treating one like a person, they panicked.

 The practice of using skin color as a gaming piece for power, for money or for self aggrandizement is damaging to all involved and robs everyone of their basic humanity, reducing them to statistics for political and monetary gain. It summons the ghosts from the auction blocks of America’s past for the deplorable purpose of reducing people to commodities.


Lincoln Brown

Lincoln Brown is the Program Director at KVEL Radio in Vernal, Utah. He hosts “The Lincoln Brown Show” Mondays through Fridays from 8-9 AM.