Over 160 students at Western Michigan University were interviewed for a “documentary theatre piece” titled “Check Your Privilege,” which premiered last week. The production was assisted in part via (the seemingly oxymoronic) “Kellogg Grant for Racial Healing.”

WMUK 102.1 FM reports:

Calvin College Professor of Theatre Stephanie Sandberg is the head director of the production. This is the type of theatre she’s known for. Six years ago, Sandberg helped WMU create a similar play called Seven Passages—the Stories of Gay Christians.

“It’s a kind of theatre where you’re bound by using only the words that people use to describe their experiences and their stories,” she says.

“So it’s theatre in the sense that you still have actors performing it. We’re not putting the actual people on stage. But it’s trying to get at this sense of truth in language and in story that brings about a kind of authenticity that you might get from fictional theatre, but not necessarily.”

Sandberg says Kalamazoo County has a 50 on the disparity index according to the census. That means about half of the white population in a Kalamazoo neighborhood would have to move to another part of the county in order to desegregate the area.

“And so I wasn’t surprised to hear that that reality was happening at the university as well,” says Sandberg. “Even though there’s things…we try to put measures in place that stop that, it’s just not happening. In the United States right now—today—we have a dissimilarity index that is worse than apartheid South Africa. We’ve got to do something about this. We have to do something about this.”

Sandberg notes that “because the play uses real interviews from Western Michigan University staff and students, the audience feels like they’re part of an honest, open discussion about race and privilege.”

Except, again, the title of the production is called “Check Your Privilege” which, as we all know, only applies to Caucasians.

Not to mention, the first speaker in the video below kind of gives away the deal when he says (white) students “aren’t aware of how they fit into this privileged scheme” and that the “the point of this play is to educate people …” (emphasis added).

Prof. Sandberg later in the same video notes that many other colleges would fit right in too because “what we’re dealing with is systemic discrimination.”

So, it’s not really an “honest, open discussion” as Prof. Sandberg had noted, is it? This production appears to be like many other supposedly “open, honest discussions” about race — actually about embracing a particular point of view.

And guess which view that might be?


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Writing in The Daily Princetonian, Kelly Hatfield apparently assuages her “white privilege” by lamenting the media coverage of the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Did we watch the same coverage? Because Hatfield is angry at the anti-Brown aspect of that coverage:

First off, Michael Brown’s death should be mourned regardless of whether or not that was him in the video of the shoplifting. He should be mourned regardless of whether or not he was planning on attending college the following Monday. He should be mourned regardless of whether or not he drank and smoked pot. He was an unarmed man who was shot and lost his life, and for this reason he should be mourned. No one deserves to be shot six times and left on the sidewalk for four hours.

I call upon the media to stop “bringing to light” evidence that Michael Brown was “no angel” — an expression used to describe him in a New York Times article published on Aug. 24. It doesn’t matter. It matters neither in this specific case, nor in any others.

In a loosely related vein, I also call upon the media to stop its emphasis on the lootings and waves of teargas, and to reevaluate its priorities should a similar situation arise in the months and years to come.

Hatfield goes on to state she has “no doubt that he [Brown] was a wonderful person …” and calls on the media to “focus on the larger picture.” One may wonder how she is able to determine the former; regarding the latter, that “larger picture” is “inequality, segregation and racism.”

Again — what media is Hatfield watching?

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A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology concludes that people “tended to pull the trigger faster when confronted by armed white [criminal] suspects.”

Reason.com reports on the Washington State University study’s findings (emphasis added):

Participants in an innovative Washington State University study of deadly force were more likely to feel threatened in scenarios involving black people. But when it came time to shoot, participants were biased in favor of black suspects, taking longer to pull the trigger against them than against armed white or Hispanic suspects…

[WSU researcher Lois] James’ study is a follow-up to one in which she found active police officers, military personnel and the general public took longer to shoot black suspects than white or Hispanic suspects. Participants were also more likely to shoot unarmed white suspects than black or Hispanic ones and more likely to fail to fire at armed black suspects.

“In other words,” wrote James and her co-authors, “there was significant bias favoring blacks where decisions to shoot were concerned.”

The average time to fire at a white suspect was 1.37 seconds, compared to 1.61 seconds for a black suspect. While seemingly an insignificant amount of time, “it’s enough to be fatal in a shooting,” the study notes.

WSU researcher Lois James and her team speculate that this (racial) difference may be due to fear of legal consequences of “shooting a member of a historically oppressed racial or ethnic group.”

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Even though the notion of “colorblindness” is encoded in American law, Miami University’s Brett Milam says this is misguided. Writing in The Miami Student, Milam states that white America’s “operating philosophy” of colorblindness is … “inaccurate and a symptom of white privilege.”

Let’s face it. It’s nice to be white. We can control the narrative and say race doesn’t matter; worse, we can say we’re operating from a higher moral plane by buying into colorblindness. We can say history no longer influences the present, even though it does. We can say that we exist in a post-racial society, even if we don’t. We can ignore the pleas of the black community.

To be clear, the events in Ferguson not only transcend the death of Michael Brown, but are also not solely about race. There’s an important discussion (which I’ll save for a later time) to be had about policing in America and the justice system. However, race is a component so easily dismissed that it needs to be brought under a spotlight.

Milam then proceeds to spout off numerous carefully selected statistics, such as how most crimes occur within one’s own race. With this, he adds “you won’t see anyone talking about white-on-white crime …” Perhaps this is because there is no prodigious disparity between the general population numbers and crime statistics? Maybe such is the reason why some “peddle” (Milam’s word) the so-called “the black-on-black crime red herring” — the vast disproportionality?

Milam also mocks white “control” of the media: Whites “can control the narrative …” he writes. While this may be true in and of itself just due to population figures, such a statement, like that of many progressive utterances about race, treats (racial) groups as group-think monoliths. In other words, which whites “controlled the narrative” in Ferguson, Missouri?

The answer is “progressives like Brett Milam.” They controlled the narrative in the mainstream media. Even as the facts in the Ferguson matter began to emerge, the narrative persisted: Michael Brown had his hands up, he had surrendered to the officer, but the cop shot him anyway.

Hilariously, Milam concludes “Yes, personal responsibility matters, but it’s not nearly the whole picture.” This is after he spends his entire column noting that personal responsibility really isn’t a factor regarding predicaments facing black Americans. And no passage drives that point home more than this:

The other myth — the absentee black father — gets a lot play, but it is also inaccurate. A study published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that black fathers are not just involved in their children’s lives on a daily basis, but even more so than their white or Latino counterparts. Sure, 67 percent of black fathers don’t live with their children, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t involved in their lives.

To wit: The dysfunction in American families, but especially black families, that is out-of-wedlock children is a myth.

Since Milam provides no link to the referenced study, we went looking for it. Here is one link to it. Be sure to read it carefully, especially the accompanying chart, and then ponder the “myth” contention.

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Research by George Mason University’s David Kravitz and colleagues reveals that, while “affirmative action policies in the workforce have increased diversity,” they’ve also had the effect of “stigmatizing the very workers the policies are designed to help.”

Kravitz and management professors Lisa Leslie of New York University and David Mayer of the University of Michigan built on previous studies that found that affirmative action recipients were viewed as less competent, which creates feelings of self-doubt for recipients.

To counteract this effect, organizations should emphasize the qualifications of new hires, the researchers said, and allow the staff to know them as a person—their interests, hobbies, and such. Companies also should reinforce the message that a stronger, more diverse team helps the whole organization succeed.

“When a person is a member of a group targeted by an affirmative action plan, anyone who believes affirmative action involves preferences may not know why they were hired,” Kravitz says. “Maybe they were hired because they’re great. Or maybe the corporation wants to hit a target. To eliminate stigmatization, make sure everyone knows that the affirmative action program does not involve preferences and highlight the competence and credentials of the new hires.”

Those hired through affirmative action programs also need to be reminded that they were selected for their qualifications and that others know of their qualifications.

Here’s a thought: If “everyone” (employees) need to be made aware that a new hire was brought on board because of his/her qualifications, then why not ditch affirmative action altogether?

The “stronger, more diverse team” mantra seems a lot like that used in education (and which the US Supreme Court unfortunately bought in the University of Michigan Grutter case) — that some mystical “critical mass” of minorities somehow makes the academic experience “better.” (The National Association of Scholars provides a brilliant rebuttal to this belief.)

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A campaign dubbed See The Stripes is miffed at Clemson University, in particular its football program, for “fail(ing) to properly encompass the history of the school.”

See The Stripes’ A.D. Carson elaborates, making comparisons between the Tigers’ football squad and … slavery.

Campus Reform reports:

“The ‘Most Exciting 25 Seconds In College Football’ is literally the Clemson Football Program running downhill, away from the university’s slaveholding past and a relic standing as a symbol of it, onto the field that generates significant amounts of money for the school and a large part of it’s [sic] reputation,” the student, who identifies himself as A.D. Carson, says.

“And, yes, to be clear, I am making a connection between the fields the slaves worked for Master Calhoun and the field on which student-athletes give their time, talent, blood, sweat and tears for The Program,” Carson continued.

Carson added that “he wishes he would have known he was attending a ‘school on a plantation.’” If you’re wondering how a supposedly bright individual had absolutely no inkling of the region’s/state’s history, check it:

… he says that even had he been more aware of the southern history of South Carolina school, he still would have chosen to attend the university after he explained his decision to his friends and family.

Whew! Thank goodness!

Clemson political science professor Dr. J. David Woodard says Carson is misguided:

It’s fascism. It’s looking at things only through racial lenses and not seeing anything else when in fact there is no racism associated with this.

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