People say I shouldn't teach a class called 'White Racism.' Here's why they're wrong.

Students needed to learn about racism in American society long before I started teaching a course on it.

I chose to title my course "White Racism" because I thought it was scholarly and succinct, precise and powerful.

Others saw it differently.


Many white Americans (and even some people of color) became upset when they learned about this course. Thousands took to social media and far-right news sites and racist blogs to attack the course and me personally. Some 150 of these individuals even sent me hateful and threatening messages.

It's tempting to blame the hostility to my course on today's political climate — one in which the president of the United States can routinely make overtly racist statements and receive some of his strongest support from members of white, racist hate groups.

But the reality is that scholarly critiques of white supremacy in the U.S. have always been met with scorn. That doesn't make the topic any less true, any less important, or any less necessary to teach.

White racism isn't an opinion. It's a historical and contemporary truth, supported by evidence, that's been taught for decades.

I’ve taught courses on racial stratification in the U.S. for nearly a decade myself. The course, and others like it, are all anchored in a damning body of historical and contemporary evidence — evidence that shows that Europeans and their white descendants colonized what would become the United States, as well as other places around the globe.

They practiced all manner of inhumanity against non-whites. This has included genocide, slavery, murder, rape, torture, theft, chicanery, segregation, discrimination, intimidation, internment, humiliation, and marginalization.

This is inarguable. But that's not where the opposition to my course lies.

In reality, most Americans have a general understanding of our nation's history of abuse toward African-Americans. The transatlantic slave trade, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, housing and labor market discrimination, police brutality — these are all concepts with which most are familiar.

What many disagree with is the impact of those practices on people's lives and opportunities today. Many argue for what I (and many others) call the myth of a "colorblind society."

The myth of the colorblind society holds that the U.S. is a "post-racial" society where race no longer impacts individuals' opportunities in life.

It's a belief that erases the daily realities that demonstrate the this country is white supremacist in nature.

But the myth of a colorblind society crumbles underneath a substantial body of research that shows how race still matters in many areas of American life. Evidence shows that race still matters in the labor market and workplace, education, and even in access to clean water. Race matters in health care, the criminal justice system, and even everyday retail and dining experiences.

Still, many refuse to believe that racism persists. They point to the civil rights legislation of the 1960s or, more recently, the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, as evidence of the "end" of racism, or at least race's "declining significance."

The point of my course is to disabuse my students of those beliefs, guiding them toward a more accurate understanding of racial matters in our country.

But wait a second. Can't anyone be racist?

The most common complaint that I’ve encountered thus far is that anybody can be racist, not just white people. They ask indignantly: What about "reverse racism"? Or what about other forms of racism they believe exist on the part of Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Native American peoples?

My answer is: Folks of color can be prejudiced and biased, but there is no such thing, for example, as "black racism."

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, president of the American Sociological Association, put it well when asked if it would be fair to have classes such as "Asian Racism" or "Latino Racism."

He said, "We can all be prejudiced, yeah? So, black people can be anti-white, but there is a big difference between having prejudiced views about other people and having a system that gives systemic privilege to some groups."

That's the bottom line: Black people did not develop and benefit from a centuries-old comprehensive system of racial oppression comprised of laws, policies, practices, traditions, and an accompanying ideology — one that promotes the biological, intellectual and cultural superiority of whites to dominate other groups. Europeans and their white descendants did.

This is systemic racism. And students in courses such as mine are introduced to the scholarship that attests to this reality, past and present.

My course may be an elective, but the effects of white racism in society are not.

A common criticism I’ve heard is that I'm teaching a course titled "White Racism" at a public university at taxpayer expense.

Not only should my course and others like it be taught at public colleges and universities, they must be taught at such institutions. It is in the public interest that students be provided with not only an opportunity to learn about the origin, logic, and consequences of white racial domination but also how to challenge and dismantle it. The public university classroom is among the best places for this to occur.

The president of Florida Gulf Coast University, Michael Martin, has strongly and publicly supported the inclusion of my "White Racism" class in the university's course offerings.

"Reviewing the course content is much more instructive than passing judgment based on a two-word title," he said in a statement. "At FGCU, as at all great universities, we teach our students critical thinking skills by challenging them to think independently and critically about important, even if controversial, issues of our times."

Hopefully someday, the rest of society will learn to do the same.

This piece was originally published by The Conversation and is reprinted here with permission.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local 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 charity of choice.
Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local 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 charity of choice.
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