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

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic and it feels like disinformation and denial have spread as quickly as the virus itself. Unfortunately, disinformation and denial during a pandemic is deadly. Literally. People who refuse to accept the reality we're living in, who go about daily life as if nothing unusual were happening, who won't wear a mask or keep their distance from people, are preventing communities from being able to keep the pandemic under control—with very real consequences.

An ER nurse in South Dakota shared her experience treating COVID patients—some of whom refuse to believe they have COVID—and it's really shocking. One might think that the virus would become real to people if they were directly affected by it, but apparently that's just not true for some. As Jodi Doering wrote on Twitter:

"I have a night off from the hospital. As I'm on my couch with my dog I can't help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who still don't believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that 'stuff' because they don't have COViD because it's not real. Yes. This really happens. And I can't stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn't going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It's like a fucking horror movie that never ends. There's no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again."

Keep Reading Show less
True

This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

In 2011, Adam Mansbach created perhaps the first children's book written specifically for parents, called "Go the F*ck to Sleep." The hilarious story, which chronicles a parent's desperate desire to get a child to sleep, was made even greater when it was read aloud by world-class f-bomb dropper Samuel L. Jackson.

Now Mansbach and Jackson have collaborated on a new take on the book for the coronavirus pandemic. It's a poem called "Stay the F*ck at Home," and it's perfect. It begins:

Keep Reading Show less
via Julian Stroleny

Seventeen-year-old Michael Marshall had never been to a protest before, but on June 10, his mother dropped him off at Bayside Marketplace in Miami, Florida to join Black Lives Matter in their call for justice.

"It was important to me as a young Black man to go out there and stand with my people," he told The Miami Herald. "It was important to represent something way bigger than me."

The protests turned violent when demonstrators began vandalizing statues of Juan Ponce de León and Christopher Columbus. This resulted in the Miami Police Department deploying a response platoon against the demonstrators.

Keep Reading Show less