Kat’s ‘National Review’ Article, Jul 15, 2016
According to Kat’s latest National Review article, race-conscious educators obsessed with conducting complicated stepping exercises are actually dancing around the real issues.
by KATHERINE TIMPF, July 15, 2016 5:56 PM
Make sure to feel guilty.
So, apparently, book privilege and newspaper privilege are things now.
A handout included in the official list of resources for Confratute — a national education conference held at the University of Connecticut this week — contained instructions for a “41-step privilege exercise,” a “race based” activity where participants have to take a step forward or backward depending on whether or not they have certain privileges.
“If you were raised in a home where a daily newspaper was delivered, take a step forward.”
“If, as a child, your parents keep, or kept, over 40 books in your home, take one step forward.”
Now, there’s no doubt that being raised in a home with ample reading materials would give a person an advantage. But how exactly does this belong in a self-described “race based” activity? Is it meant to suggest that people of a certain race are more likely to have faced these specific issues than others? If so, how does that stereotype help?
This conference isn’t the only place that this kind of activity has popped up. Colleges around the country are also doing “privilege” walks in an attempt to show their commitment to social-justice activism. Earlier this year, I wrote a piece about the University of Michigan’s “privilege walk,” which used a particularly strange list. From that piece:
All of us, both as individuals and as groups, have certain privileges and disadvantages compared to other people. But are these kinds of exercises really the best way to go about discussing these issues? How does singling out certain privileges as if they’re the most important on lists like these do anyone any good?
Hint: It doesn’t. While it’s important to learn about difficulties that others have had to deal with (yes, including those surrounding race), using a definitive list like this that treats some difficulties as being more worth discussion than others only perpetuates the obsession with identity politics that is driving us farther apart.