By Gary A. Johnson, Publisher – Black Men In America.com (February 23, 2017)
A few weeks ago, a black University of Pennsylvania student recently declared that his fall semester at the Ivy League institution was “traumatic” because he had three white professors who refused to acknowledge their privilege, and one scholar in particular who “constantly perpetuated these systems of oppression … [that] led to me mentally breaking down in the classroom.”
Student James Fisher wrote about his experience in an op-ed in the Daily Pennsylvanian campus newspaper. Fisher stopped going to class for a month.
I have a lot of questions for James. At first blush, James appears to be “soft and terribly misguided.” That’s the best I way I can describe my reaction to his article without using profanities.
James Fisher and thousands of other students, many of them black, cannot cope with the realities of life. Here we are 3 months after the presidential election and college students are still traumatized over the results. WTF? You’re a student. Get over it and learn to deal with an opposing point of view.
Fisher like so many others have been conditioned to behave like victims. This dude is going to an Ivy League school. That’s not to say that he has not encountered racism and people who were born into privilege. One can argue that Fisher was born into privilege because he attends an expensive Ivy League university. That being said, why does Fisher act like he is owed something? Racism and other “isms” are like rain. When it rains you use an umbrella and go on about your day. How much experience does James Fisher have with racism? Fisher’s only job is to learn.
I don’t want to taint your perspective on Fisher any more than I have already. Below is James Fisher’s article in its entirety. Read it and draw your own conclusion.
James Fisher | ‘Privilege’ does not exist to White Penn professors — and they keep ‘trying it’
Spilling the Real Tea | White Penn professors inhibit black students with their privilege
Last semester was honestly the worst semester I’ve had at Penn so far. And all because of one thing: the white professors I’ve had at Penn. It appears that the term “privilege” does not apply to them. Nor do they care to learn what it is.
Imagine being a black student on Penn’s campus with even one of these types of professors. I had three. And each one of those professors either did not care to learn about their white privilege, or lied to me and said that they did.
Understanding their privileges to them is very different. They think that by not saying racist comments in class, they are doing good. Not knowing that that half-hearted attempt further contributes to the oppression that I experience in my predominantly white classrooms.
One of my professors, for example, constantly perpetuated these systems of oppression in class. He is a white man from the suburbs. And as the only black student in the class, I was already fearing the possibility of getting mad over something stupid that he was going to say. But I gave him a chance.
Unfortunately, he proved my suspicions to be true. There were countless times that his lack of acknowledgment of his privilege led to some of the trauma that I experienced in class. He would show images of slaves on plantations and even allow students to say ignorant comments in class.
I remember having an intense conversation after class. I basically told him that what he was doing was traumatic to me, and as someone who has experienced a lot of racial trauma in his life, I would not allow him to continue. He then used the argument that, in order to make the class a “safe space,” he had to protect the voices of all students in the class.
This is where the problem arose for me. This is the same argument that #AllLivesMatter people use. They argue that everyone should be equal and that no life is more important than another, not recognizing that since we live in a society that does not value black lives, we cannot assume that everyone is on the same playing field.
That is the epitome of privilege: assuming that everyone had the same comfortable life that you did.
So, because my professor wanted to protect the voices of the white students who benefit from black oppression, the oppression unfortunately continued. It even led to me mentally breaking down in the classroom. And while trying to console me, he said, “There is no way that I could acquire the wisdom that you possess.” That was exactly what I needed to hear! I think he thought that that was a compliment.
I stopped going to his class for a month. With different emotions going through my head from not only this class but from the Trump election, I did not want to step foot into another white space until I made sure that my mental health was restored.
These are the types of things that happen when white teachers do not want to acknowledge their privileges; they can psychologically hurt their students. It is not enough to be aware of your privilege. It is also not enough to be a nice person. Your niceness does not mean that you are not capable of contributing to racial systems of oppression.
It is not enough that you are sorry for the injustices caused by your people. It is not enough that you read one article on the Black Lives Matter movement because your black friend recommended it to you. It is not enough that you gave your black students extensions on their papers because Trump got elected.
The truth is, you as a single person cannot make up for the horrific things that white people have done to us throughout human history. But that does not mean that you do not have the power to stop yourself from oppressing the students that you teach every day.
You have to be invested in stopping racism and oppression every day, not just on your free time.
On the heels of James Fisher’s article, a student activist group at the University of Michigan is demanding that campus officials provide them with “a permanent designated space on campus for Black students and students of color to organize and do social justice work.”
The demand is one of several lodged by “Students4Justice,” who this month ratcheted up campus demonstrations to pressure administrators to cave, complaining in a newly launched petition that President Mark Schlissel has snubbed their demands.
The public university is building a $10 million center for black students. In their demand, students said: “We want documentation of past, current, and future student activism and this should be a permanent space that is staffed, and has resources for students to organize and share resources.”
Leaders of “Students4Justice” have criticized the University for failing to create an environment that engages in diversity, equity and inclusion. Now the group is calling upon the University to undermine these ideals by demanding that space and resources are allocated for students based solely on the color of their skin. Can you have it both ways in this situation? Just asking.
The demands were presented to the University weeks ago. The Students4Justice group refiled with an added list of demands after a series of incidents the group deemed racist. The group also held a sit-in, as well as a silent protest when prospective students visited campus.
“Our president has blatantly ignored us and it is time for us to speak up. We have been told that our demands are ‘rude,’” the group posted on Facebook in announcing its petition. “We are calling on someone to care about students’ concerns and to lead us with integrity and help us fight against the oppression and hateful acts that try to destroy us and our community.”
What do you think? Scroll down and share your comments.
Source: The College Fix and mainstream media sources.