Student Association Executive Vice President Eve Stern hosted a program entitled, “White Privilege: Does it Exist?” on Monday, Nov. 28, in the main lounge of Bouton Hall.
At the program, conversations ranged from race to the racial signs posted in the Humanities Building and Lefevre Hall.
“A program and discussion was something I had wanted to do since early in the semester,” Stern said. “I kind of wanted [to] have a program where we got everyone together to be honest with each other about what goes on on this campus.”
Stern said honesty regarding race is important for our campus. Despite claims that our campus is diverse, she said there is still a sort-of-segregation taking place between students from within their friend groups.
As a part of the Black Studies Department, Stern said she feels strongly about educating other students on race. She and a few of her classmates organized the talk, putting together a structure for the conversations to follow. Stern said they had a decent turn out of students who were interested in learning about the issues of race.
“I know one of my friends was angry. He was hoping more angry, super-racist, white people would come so they could try to be educated,” Stern said. “I was hoping for people to come to the program that were open-minded but not necessarily educated.”
Stern said the current education system plays a large part in the ignorance of the overall public. She said she never talked about racism when she was in high school and many students had similar experiences. She said white people often respond to being told of their advantages in a more hostile way, tending to look at situations in a “micro” scale rather than the “macro.”
“When you tell a white person that they receive more advantages due to the color of their skin, they don’t want to listen to that,” Stern said. “If you have so many issues and problems going on in your own life, it takes a lot to admit that someone else might have it worse than you.”
Josh Simpson, a third-year Black Studies major, said that the need for frank discussion of race and white privilege transcends the need for political correctness.
“We explained that it needs to be called ‘white privilege’ because white people are the only ones who get any privilege based on the color of their skin,” Simpson said.
Keeping the conversation alive is what the student organizers of this program hope to do as they said these discussions are the only way to combat white privilege and racial inequality.
“I know that nothing can change overnight but hopefully with programs like this one and the forums that have occurred on race will hopefully aid in changing out society,” Simpson said. “I would hate to see all of the hard work that many students have done go to waste and have these incidences on campus get forgotten over winter break.”