There’s a famous outdoor workout location in Manhattan Beach California that locals have dubbed the “Dune”. It’s a city park that features a steep 100ft sand dune that people have used for various purposes. When you’re driving up to the dune it doesn’t look like much of a challenge at all.
However, once you begin your trek up the infamous dune, you’ll soon discover you were wrong. What sucks is watching some old dude in cut off jeans sprint up the dune with relative ease or kids having the time of their lives. Meanwhile you're struggling to make it to the 50 ft mark.
Sometimes it feels like race relations in America are like a Sand Dune. From the outside it looks easy as hell, all people are created equal right? Until you actually have to confront race or race confronts you there’s no true way to explain. Even as you’ve read the description of the “Dune” it still won’t mean anything until you experience it.
Explaining racial inequality, instances of racial profiling and just the disrespect of people of color to white people can be frustrating. It can also be difficult to explain as a person of color to white people when issues of racial inequality surface. How do you handle topics of race from both a place of #whiteprivilege and #diversity? Is there a way to effectively teach people the nuance of race relations in a way that is productive and educational? It's much like running or walking the “Dune”, you have to experience it.
The State University of New York at Binghamton, in an effort to create a controlled racial conversation “experience” has added a course to it’s Resident Advisor training schedule called #StopWhitePeople2k16. The title of the course lead many to ignore the true intent of the class and deflect to insensitivity towards white people. Some students complained, believing the course was “disturbing” and “counterproductive.”
Maybe if the students bothered to look at the course description instead of reacting they would have read:
“The premise of this session is to help others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within. Learning about these topics is a good first step, but when you’re encountered with “good” arguments from uneducated people, how do you respond? This open discussion will give attendees the tools to do so, and hopefully expand upon what they already know.”
Instead they went to Twitter and posted the following:
SUNY Binghamton’s student newspaper, the Binghamton Review wrote,
Brian Rose, Binghamton University’s Vice President of Student Affairs, wrote in his response to the controversy that the program was not “‘anti-white,’” and instead was simply a “discussion” that “explored reverse racism, the relationship of communities of color with police, whiteness, crime and segregation in an open conversation format.”
But the Binghamton Review couldn’t let that slide. When dealing with issues of race with white people it’s important to be sensitive to their sensitivity. It's almost as if ignoring white privilege or pacifying white guilt is the best practice. The paper writes,
“Rose’s response to “#StopWhitePeople2K16” is completely in line with the politically correct, leftist agenda so often seen on University campuses when dealing with issues of race and gender. If the event had been called #StopBlackPeople2K16, or #StopAsianPeople2K16, or if it had referred to any other race, the response from the University would have undoubtedly been very, very different.”
This type of response is the very reason the class was needed in the first place. Maybe #StopWhitePeople2K16 should be a required course at all institutes of higher education. Because it seems like they often can't stop themselves from getting in their feelings about racial issues. To be fair there could be a #StopBlackPeople2K16 because we do some questionable things too. While we're at it, why don't we just create a #Stophumanity2K16?