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U of M anti-racist course has conservatives fuming

There was a lot of pearl clutching over the idea that white people could stand to maybe do something about racism.

There was a lot of pearl clutching over the idea that white people could stand to maybe do something about racism. Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

In a shocking turn of events, a couple conservative websites are wigging out over an anti-racist webinar offered by the University of Minnesota.

The course is called "Deconstructing and Decentralizing White-ness in Practice." It’s described as a sort of 12-step program: a recovery path for white people who want to be better in their daily interactions with people of color.

The idea behind the course is that white supremacy is a social construct we’re all born into and conditioned by, and it’s the responsibility of white people (as the beneficiaries of aforementioned white supremacy) to recognize that shit and make a conscious daily effort to fight it. Not unlike, say, recovering from an addiction.

In the first part of the series, instructor Cristina Combs pointed to a quote from Sonya Renee Taylor (author of The Body is Not an Apology) to help explain what this was all about:

“You are struggling in this system as well. It is killing you too… Whiteness is not about you. Whiteness is the structure into which you were born… Stop experiencing the conversation of whiteness and white supremacist delusion as who you are, and start experiencing it as something that you were assigned that is not serving you.”

The program includes steps like admitting to being socially conditioned by white supremacy, embracing ignorance as an invitation to learn, and taking on responsibility for the impact -- not necessarily the intent -- of interactions with people of color. (If you hurt someone without meaning to, it doesn’t change the fact that you hurt them and you are responsible for making amends.)

That’s a pretty brief crash course based on the first part of the webinar, which was outlined in the College Fix and the Daily Wire, two popular conservative news sources, which happen to share an addiction of their own -- to manufactured outrage. You can probably imagine the level heads gathering to give feedback in the comment section of the College Fix’s article.

“I have two/ words for Combs: KISS MY WHITE A$$!!” reads one comment.

“When they push whites too far, the backlash will be bloody, brutal, and over very quickly. Black people are working to erase whiteness,” another commenter wrote... of a webinar focused on whiteness... and led by a white woman.

And then there was this helpful and not at all inflammatory photo the Daily Wire used to illustrate the story.

Posted by Daily Wire on Thursday, October 15, 2020

For outlets that have been known to repeatedly cast aspersions on the idea of taking offense to something, there was a lot of pearl clutching over the idea that white people could... maybe do something about racism. 

When reached for comment, the U was quick to point out that, contrary to what a lot of these commenters seem to think, literally nobody is being forced to take this webinar.

“Participants make a personal choice to participate and it is not required of anyone, including staff,” communications and marketing director Ryan Warren said in a statement. “We encourage everyone to reflect on their own practice and we will continue to offer opportunities across a wide range of topics to our community and the communities we serve.”