Notre Dame’s Class on Shaming
White People

Notre Dame made a controversial move this semester by scheduling a for-credit class on white privilege. Shrouded in secrecy, this seminar requires students to apply for and receive departmental approval before actually enrolling—an unusual departure from normal university procedures. Moreover, three professors teach ten students in this one-credit class, while only a handful of Notre Dame courses are taught by more than one professor.  The three professors are. Emmanuel Cannady, Iris Outlaw and Ke’Ana Bradley. All are African-American, and the course is listed as sociology and Africana Studies.

The class is unusual too in describing the mindset it wants students to have when exiting the eight-session program. The course description says “the goal for each participant is personal transformation: to leave the class and conference more aware of injustices and be better equipped with tools to disrupt personal, institutional, and worldwide systems of oppression.” The application requires essay responses to questions such as “what is your understanding of privilege?” “what privileges do you have and what benefits have you received?” and “how would you define white privilege?”

                                   Whites Are Fundamentally Unjust

Notre Dame’s student magazine, Scholastic, confirmed concerns about the seminar’s unquestioning acceptance of white privilege’s existence. One student in the seminar said, “The discussions in class are not about whether white privilege is real or not, but what it means and how it affects minorities and society as a whole.”

The White Privilege  website quotes Gary Howard, President of the REACH Center for Multicultural Education in Seattle: “Whites need to acknowledge and work through the negative historical implications of ‘Whiteness’ and create for ourselves a transformed identity as White people committed to equity and social change…To teach my White students and my own children…that there are different ways of being White, and that they have a choice as White people to become champions of justice and social healing.”

The website features numerous quotes similar to Howard’s which emphasize the “negative historical implications” particular to white individuals, and suggest that whites must undertake an ongoing reform effort to ameliorate their character. The white privilege movement exists to inform whites that a prerequisite to embracing justice is the recognition that that they are fundamentally unjust people by the accident of their birth.

                                             Tarring Christianity Too

In addition, some conference seminars explicitly teach that Christianity and its institutions engender privilege. Notre Dame’s willingness to pay expenses for seminar students to attend the national the White Privilege  conference this week in Louisville is troubling.  It must be the first time Notre Dame has helped subsidize an anti-Christian conference.

 Last year’s conference featured a seminar entitled “The Roots of Racism in Christian Hegemony,” and its description read: “As our crises of financial meltdown, war, racism, and environmental destruction intensify, it is imperative that we dig beneath the surface of Christianity’s benign reputation to examine how it undermines our interpersonal relationships, weakens our communities and promotes injustice.”

It is difficult to understand how the nation’s premier Catholic University could support viewpoints so contrary to its identity and mission. The conference’s methodology is in itself suspect in that it presumptively singles an entire race of people without examining whether all members of that race are truly privileged. The true danger rests within its ideology, however, as it blatantly opposes and abhorrently attacks the founding and guiding principles of Notre Dame.

A return to Catholic vision, rather than an encouragement of prejudicial group-think so rampant across college campuses, would prove a more viable method for addressing concerns about race relations. The answer lies not in informing, dare I say criticizing, white students for their perceived institutionalized superiority, but rather in one of the core beliefs of Our Lady’s University: that men and women made in the image and likeness of God owe each other the utmost mutual respect regardless of their external differences.

An examination of the White Privilege seminar is particularly pertinent after this week’s passing of Father Theodore Hesburgh C.S.C., Notre Dame’s President for thirty-five years and guiding light. Standing arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King, Father Hesburgh influenced the civil rights movement by advocating recognition of our shared dignity as children of God, regardless of skin color. The seminar’s belief that whites are a more privileged race hardly seems to heed the call of Dr. King to judge every person “by the content of their character” rather than the color of their skin; a sentiment which Father Hesburgh certainly shared, and would lament to see abandoned.


  • Kate Hardiman

    Kate Hardiman is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and minoring in the Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics (PPE) Program. She is the Campus Co-Editor of Notre Dame’s newspaper, The Irish Rover.

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16 thoughts on “Notre Dame’s Class on Shaming
White People

  1. What a stupid ultra liberal politically correct ridiculous class being offered and taught by guilt ridden Caucasian people who believe all African Americans are Victims.

  2. I’m offended that people are being referred to as “Whites” instead of “Caucasians”. What would people say if there was a class using the term “Blacks” instead of “African Americans”?

  3. Another reason not to donate to the University of Notre Dame. Fight White Privilege, earn worthless credits. Oh, my!

  4. What an outstanding example of objective scholarship — and such an important addition to our children’s Higher Education!

    Next semester, I’m sure, Notre Dame will offer another Top Double Secret by Invitation Only Course on Black Criminality. It will be team taught by 3 white professors, naturally. And the “the goal for each participant is personal transformation”: to leave the class and conference more aware of Black Criminal Behavior…the extraordinarily high frequency of Black Crime (well beyond the level which might be expected in a normal demographic distribution) in Western Culture … and be better equipped with tools to identify, publicize, and change the personal, social, cultural, religious, & institutional systems of Criminal Behavior as they are evidenced within the Black Community. The application requires essay responses to questions such as “What is your understanding of Black Criminality” “What crimes have you witnessed and what benefits have you received from the crimes you’ve committed?” and “How would you define the Black Criminal Culture & Black Criminal Mindset?”

    The Black Criminality website quotes Gary Coward, President of the Center for Multicultural Education: “Blacks need to acknowledge and work through the negative historical implications of ‘Black Anti-Social Criminal Behavior’ and create for ourselves a transformed identity as Black people committed to morally right behavior who abide by the rule of law…To teach my Black students and my own children…that there are different ways of being Black, and that they have a choice as Black people to become champions of justice and social healing.”

    OMG!!!! Would Notre Dame tolerate such racism? Would anyone? Would any reasonable person believe that a Top Secret Course on Black Criminality, team taught by 3 White Professors in which the very aim of the course is racist cultural indoctrination .. would they believe that such a thing was good, was right, and was appropriate for a college curriculum. Have we gone mad?

    1. ^ Your analogy is false – and dishonest. It’s not the same thing at all. You see:

      Black = good
      White = bad
      Anti-white = GOOD

  5. ‘White privilege’ replaces ‘original sin’ — with the added benefit that not everyone is subject to the condition.

    Forced (and ritualized) self-criticism was the hallmark of late Stalinism.

  6. John rightly has no problem with a course that would, in his words, “educate students…by giving people the freedom to think and explore ideas.” To say the least, that is not the case with courses, on obviously debatable topics, that presuppose the answers.

    1. Alan, we know very little about this class from this story. How are you certain that the class presupposes the answers to questions like “how would you define white privilege”? And how is that any different from an economics class that presupposes (as almost all do) capitalism is right and communism is wrong? Who do you trust to decide which courses are deemed to be guilty of having presuppositions?

  7. Lets expound upon the idea that whites must forever feel guilty atone for what happened in the past.

    So in 100 years, well past the estimated point when whites become a minority in this country, is there going to be a black privilege campaign? Will this campaign point out the utter destruction of numerous cities that goes virtually ignored? Will it point out that racism towards whites is proliferate, yet also ignored?

    Or 100 years from now, when whites are the minority, will they still be demonized?

  8. There is no doubt, racism exists. But contrary to PC beliefs it is a two way street.

    Blaming whitey for all social ills simply today’s acceptable PC racism.

    Black privilege, is never talked about. It is quite toxic and takes a large toll on the black community. At the same time liberals blame whitey for the problems caused by black privilege.

    Black privilege is when black young men, murder other black young men. And then the black community, living with the “snitches get stitches” meme, refuse to help the (black and/or white) police apprehend the perpetrator. This means the black young male murderer continues to roam the black community. So he is the recipient of black privilege. This is a privilege white society would not allow to white murderers in their midst.

    The net effect of this black privilege is a less safe black community. A community where Jesse Jackson is quoted as saying “There is nothing more painful to me … than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

    As long as American Universities are obsessed with “getting even with whitey”, they will continue to ignore real problems that could easily be fixed. Denying “black privilege” is one.

  9. I find it difficult to believe that Dr. King would have argued that white privilege does not exist, or that he would ever assert that acknowledging the fact of racism is a barrier to judging individuals based on the content of their character. I’m also troubled by the notion that Notre Dame should never allow students to attend an educational event that someone imagines is contrary to Notre Dame’s mission. Surely Notre Dame’s primary mission is to educate students, and that is best accomplished by giving people the freedom to think and explore ideas, even ideas such as “white privilege” that some people bizarrely imagine do not exist.

    1. I believe you misread the article. I did not get the impression that Notre Dame should “never allow a student to attend an educational event”. The objection was to actively pay expenses to attend an anti-Christian event. A bit off topic, but if white privilege were the overwhelming social force it is assumed to be, Japanese-Americans should be at the bottom of the social order. They are visibly non-white, too small in number to have much electoral influence, suffer a major language barrier, and were subject to wide-spread anti-Japanese propaganda within living memory. Yet their educational & economic performance exceeds whites, and rates of arrest and incarceration are dramatically lower.

    2. >>even ideas such as “white privilege” that some people bizarrely imagine do not exist.
      This is typical of the left: sanctimonious minds closed to debate or challenge to their dogma. This sort of thinking, or the lack thereof, is precisely what is wrong in higher education.

    3. Whether Dr. King would have accepted the premise of white privilege is irrelevant, as his message was unequivocally opposed to judging others based on the color of their skin, the primary tenet of white privilege.

      And yes, one the purposes of an educational institution is to explore ideas, but to explore ideas they must be debated and the merits weighed. When the label of white privilege is used to silence or ignore opposing views, that is not exploration, it’s dogma

      Whether white privilege exists or not is much less important than the impact such dogma will have on society. From my own experience, the use of the label white privilege does nothing but stifle debate, demonize, and engender racial discord. What is the purpose behind teaching young people that whites are “fundamentally unjust people”? There is only one response to something that is fundamentally unjust, and that is to seek it’s eradication. That should work out real well for racial relations.

    4. I agree.

      So you’ll also agree with me that Notre Dame should address the following otherwise neglected historical/sociological phenomena:

      * The massively disproportionate White/non-White general crime statistics throughout the western world.
      * The astronomical rape statistics committed by non-Whites as opposed to Whites.
      * The systematic governmental disenfranchise and genocide of Whites in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
      * The recent development of Israel officially becoming a Jewish ethnostate via the Knesset.
      * The role of European émigré Jews in the propagation of cultural Marxism in the West.

      Can you please co-sign the email I’ll send to Notre Dame?

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