People are blasting this university’s ‘white awake’ student group. But it's kind of genius.

The University of Maryland recently announced a “white awake” student group. It sounds kind of like a racist thing but it’s just the opposite.

The support group is actually part of the Maryland’s psychology department and is designed as a university resource for white students who want to learn more about cultural diversity and how they can become better allies to marginalized communities.


A flyer that was being distributed for the support group makes its goals clear and let’s be honest, they are just what many white people need and want right now:

  • Do you want to improve your ability to relate to and connect with people different from yourself?
  • Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable and confused before, during, or after interactions with racial and ethnic minorities?
  • Do you want to become a better ally?

In fact, this is just the kind of support group that could benefit almost any group.

Learning more about people who are seemingly different than us is how we bridge divides and become more intertwined, supportive communities.

It’s a lot harder to hate, or even fear, someone who is familiar to us. It’s literally in our DNA to fear the unknown and bond with the familiar.

But there wasn't something about that flier that felt a little "off" to people...

Not everyone thinks it’s a good idea, including some minority students.

Criticism has been pouring in from both minorities and conservative critics alike. Some of the criticisms include:

*Do white people need their own “safe space” to talk about diversity?

*Is it fair to create a group just for white people rather than having the discussions include, or even led by, people of color and other marginalized groups?

*The name, despite obviously playing off the term “woke” does sound a bit … problematic. To put it mildly.

As one University of Maryland student put it in a poignant tweet stating her opposition to the group flier:

“If they want to talk about diversity, there are other ways to do it,” another anonymous  student told Fox 5 News. “They need to understand where other ethnic groups are coming from. It would work better if everyone was talking collectively about the issues and concerns that they have instead of this group feeling like they need to do this. If you get a bunch of white people in a room, then I don’t see how you are really going to understand how racial dynamics work.”

In response to the criticism, the university’s counseling center has decided to pull the flier and says it’s open to renaming the group as well.

They’ve also renamed the group: the  "Anti-Racism and Ally Building" group, which seems like a much better reflection of their intentions.

Also, despite some initial claims to the contrary, it was revealed the group is being facilitated by people of color.

Conway herself chimed in to her viral Twitter thread, stating:

"The concept is fine. The concept is of good intention. However, the flyer is designed poorly as if minority groups are a nuisance to 'whites'."

At the end of the day, these are the kinds of discussions that all Americans, but especially young people, need to be having.

We can’t magically cure racism anymore than we can pretend it doesn’t exist.

Some people will choose to embrace prejudice but for many others it’s a question of  building education, empathy and community.

If we want to make progress on racial tensions in America and reverse course from the negative trends of recent years, we need to be able to openly talk and learn from each other in ways that bridge seeming differences between people of different backgrounds and identities.

“White awake” might be a terrible name but the intentions behind it are admirable. Hopefully the attention being paid to the group will lead to positive discussions and the kind of communication that can make the University of Maryland a welcoming place for all communities.

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

Keep Reading Show less
True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

DiMezzo is clear about why she ran—to show how "clueless the average voter is" and to prove that "the system is utterly and hopelessly broken"—stances that her win only serves to reinforce.

In a blog post published on Friday, DiMezzo explained how she had never tried to hide who she was and that anyone could have looked her up to see what she was about, in addition to pointing out that those who are angry with her have no one to blame but themselves:

Keep Reading Show less
Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

Keep Reading Show less