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Articles / Preparing for College / Prediction Tracking

Jan. 19, 2016

Prediction Tracking

It's only the third week of the New Year and already I'm seeing signs that reflect on the second prediction in my post, Three Predictions for 2016. That particular prognostication is:

2. Political correctness on campus will reach the breaking point.

Eventually, enough will become enough. I predict that at some point this coming year, someone or some self-appointed group, will cross the line and challenge their college administrators in such a ludicrous manner that they will inject the entire realm of politically correct protests with a suicide serum.


In tracking the madness on campus across the nation, I came across this interesting article, which reports:

Portland Community College to devote an entire month to 'whiteness'-shaming

Since I'm a white guy, this intrigued me. As readers of Admit This!know, I have a history of shamelessness when it comes to quoting myself, as you can see from the above excerpt. So, when I saw this article about “whiteness-shaming," I knew I had to dig deeper. Here are some key points from that news item:

The school says the month is an “educational project" exploring how the “construct of whiteness" creates racial inequality.

“'Whiteness History Month: Context, Consequences, and Change' is a multidisciplinary, district-wide, educational project examining race and racism through an exploration of the construction of whiteness, its origins, and heritage," PCC states on its website. “Scheduled for the month of April 2016, the project seeks to inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism."

The WHM site makes clear that the project is not a “celebratory endeavor" like heritage months, but is rather “an effort to change our campus climate" by “[challenging] the master narrative of race and racism through an exploration of the social construction of whiteness." (“Challenging the master narrative," PCC explains, “is a strategy within higher education that promotes multicultural education and equity.") …

... whiteness “does not simply refer to skin color[,] but [to] an ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviors, habits, and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin color."

Not only does the concept of whiteness allow those who are “socially deemed white" to accrue benefits, the page asserts, but those benefits “are accrued at the expense of people of color, namely in how people of color are systemically and prejudicially denied equal access to those material benefits." …

… PCC wants students to explore the “legal, cultural, economic, social, environmental, educational, and/or intrapersonal consequences of whiteness," especially in terms of the winners and losers that result from it … [and] consider “alternatives to a culture of white supremacy … approaches and strategies to dismantling whiteness … [and] the roles and responsibilities of white people and people of color in dismantling whiteness." …

***

Okay, then. If I'm following this line of reasoning correctly, it's possible for a black person to exhibit “whiteness." While that appears to be somewhat oxymoronic, it does score points in the “inclusivity" column. Some of the comments posted below the article reflect what I might assume to be a tentative consensus:

– Gee, judging and blaming all members of an entire race because the color of their skin. There's a name for that, I think.

– Color of skin? I think not. Groups of people are discriminated against because of their culture and the behavior it produces; otherwise, yellow-skin people would be riding the wagon of this false narrative.

– This is what they learn in school now?

– That class will look great on a job application…

– Here are the traits of whiteness: working hard, excelling in school, providing for our families, following the law, being thrifty, having faith and raising our kids the same …

Oh, by the way, the Emmy-nominated comedy Portlandia returns to IFCfor its highly anticipated sixth season on Thursday, January 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT for ten all-new episodes.

***

As luck (or coincidence (or irony)) would have it, I came across a related article the same day as my discovery of whiteness-shaming. It leans strongly in the direction of my Prediction #2:

Larry Summers: 'Creeping Totalitarianism' on College Campus

For those of you who may not know who Larry Summers is, here's some background:

Lawrence Henry “Larry" Summers is an American economist who is President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Summers became a professor of economics at Harvard University in 1983.

While we're at it, let's define “totalitarianism" …

“Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.[1] Totalitarian regimes stay in political power through an all-encompassing propaganda campaign, which is disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that is often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of speech, mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror." …

Now that we're hopefully on the same page, let's see what Larry Summers thinks about today's campus climate:

“The main thing that's happening [on campus] is what always happens, professors teach courses, students take courses, students aspire to graduate, they make friends, they plan their lives… That said, whether it's the President of Princeton negotiating with people as they took over his office over the names of schools at Princeton, whether it is attacks on very reasonable free speech having to do with adults' right to choose their own Halloween costumes at Yale, whether it's the administration using placemats in the dining hall to propagandize about what messages students should give their parents about Syrian refugee policy, there is a great deal of absurd political correctness.

“I'm somebody who believes very strongly in diversity, who resists racism in all of its many incarnations… But it seems to be that there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses. And I think that's hugely unfortunate. I think the answer to bad speech is different speech. The answer to bad speech is not shutting down speech."

Summers also blasts “microagressions" as crazy. “The idea that somehow microaggressions in the form of a racist statement contained in a novel should be treated in parallel with violence or actual sexual assault seems to me to be crazy. I worry very much that if our leading academic institutions become places that prize comfort over truth—that prize the pursuit of mutual understanding over the pursuit of better and more accurate understanding—then a great deal will be lost."

***

Summers gets my vote for Best Balanced Thinking in Times of Acute Campus Lunacy (a highly coveted award, by the way).

So, you can decide for yourself if whiteness-shaming deserves an esteemed place in college curricula. In the meantime, I'll maintain an eye on my Three Predictions and keep you posted here on how their fulfillment is coming along.

**********

Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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