All posts by Kate Hardiman

Kate Hardiman is a junior at Notre Dame.

Race Baiting in the Name of Justice

The annual White Privilege Conference, not open to the public, concluded yesterday at an undisclosed site in Philadelphia. Caucasians mustn’t worry though — the sponsors say they aren’t anti-white. It’s just that having white skin is an oppressive virus or disease that must be repented in the name of mutual respect.

The teachers and lecturers at the conference — mostly multicultural consultants who make a living inducing white guilt and shame at predominantly white institutions — think American society is hopelessly stacked against minorities and the only way to fix the system is for white people to acknowledge and shed their immense “privilege.” The event featured “social justice” topics, such as “White Women: Internalized Sexism and White Superiority,” and “White Followership – Centering People of Color and Building Effective White Practices for Racial Justice & Systemic Change.” The conference also branched into new territory with discussions about gay and transgender rights, as well as Islam and Islamophobia.

Related: Notre Dame’s Class on Shaming White People

Sponsors of the conference included a number of mainstream organizations not usually associated with race baiting, including Haverford and Swarthmore colleges, the Sierra Club and the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.

The University of Notre Dame, where I am a student,  has also adopted the “White Privilege” cause, offering a one-credit sociology course, or “White Privilege Seminar” and paying the expenses of students in that course to attend the national conference in Philadelphia.

A controversial appearance of the Black Lives Matter movement’s founders at Notre Dame during a January week honoring Martin Luther King, Jr, increased anxiety over the White Privilege Seminar. Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi spoke during the week, and Cullors, while speaking of Dr. King’s legacy, said, “We don’t need a black Christian cis-normative man to take us to the Promised Land.”

Tometi and Cullors used their event to promote a conversation about gender ideology while also verbally attacking the police. Though they conceded that Dr. King had a great leadership role in the civil rights movement, the women believe that their movement demands other, female leadership.

Stating at the event that, “our principles really uplift black women, cis and trans, to be in this dialogue,” Cullors also noted that “history books, schools, institutions erase us or limit our [black women’s] investment in the work.”

Cullors and Tometi believe that the Black Lives Matter movement is inhibited by the police, whom they view as “a very big enemy.”

Cullors stated, “I do not believe in prisons, in jails, in police, in court systems, as the way to punish our people, as a way for accountability. I’ve seen how it destroys and decimates individuals, families and whole communities.”

‘Christonormativity’

Notre Dame’s Multicultural Students’ Programs and Services, Gender Relations Center, Center for Arts and Culture, Student Government, Department of Africana Studies, and Division of Student Affairs all sponsored the event, which was intended to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during Notre Dame’s “Walk the Walk” week. Designed by University president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C and the President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, the week included “a series of university and department-sponsored events, community-building dialogues and opportunities of reflection.”

Notre Dame’s White Privilege seminar employs similar rhetoric, and takes for granted the validity of the causes for which the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting. According to the course description, participants will learn to be “more aware of injustices and better equipped with tools to disrupt personal, institutional, and worldwide systems of oppression.”

Last year’s White Privilege conference, which my Catholic university paid students to attend, taught attendees that Christianity is a system of oppression that must be disrupted, according to its program. Speakers spoke of “Christonormativity,” or a “system of oppression which assumes Christianity as the norm, favors Christians, and denigrates and stigmatizes anyone that is not Christian.”

The 2015 White Privilege Conference also analogized Christians with the 9/11terrorists.

“With increasing frequency, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Christian extremists are terrorizing Americans, most frequently blacks, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and immigrants…the perpetrators of American hate crimes follow the same irrational and misguided ideologies as the 9/11 terrorists,” reads the program.

“The purpose of this course gives it away,” Bill Dempsey, the Chairman of Notre Dame watchdog group Sycamore Trust, told Minding the Campus. “It is obviously no dispassionate sociology course appropriate for a university. It is designedly a training course for participants in an anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, anti-white movement whose primary weapon is disruption. That Notre Dame would not only solicit trainees but even cover their expenses surpasses understanding.”

Notes:  The army allowed 400 soldiers to take a Privilege course last year at Ft. Gordon in Georgia, according to Judicial Watch.

In presidential politics, Hillary Clinton called on white Americans to recognize white privilege several times this year, once during the January Iowa primary campaign before the black and brown forumin Harlem in February, and once last week at  the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention in Harlem, after the awkward racial joke involving Mayor DeBlasio, and  just before the White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia.