A Florida Gulf Coast University course titled “White Racism” has sparked an ongoing debate surrounding its intent, though the instructor continues to defend it in the face of criticism.
The course initially drew media attention in October, but critics and commentators have continued to spar over its legitimacy, with some describing it as hostile towards white people, and others—especially its instructor, Dr. Ted Thornhill—defending it as necessary.
In any event, the three-credit course is popular among students, having already reached its maximum capacity of 50 for the spring 2018 semester, with two students on the waitlist.
Notably, the minimum rate per credit hour at FGCU is $203, meaning students are paying at least $609 to take the course, and possibly as much as $2,514, according to the Office of the Bursar.
Participants in the course will “interrogate the concept of race,” while examining “the racist ideologies, laws, policies, and practices that have operated for hundreds of years to maintain white racial domination over those racialized as non-white.”
Additionally, students will “discuss ways to challenge white racism and white supremacy toward promoting an anti-racist society where whiteness is not tied to greater life chances,” a course description notes.
College Republicans treasurer Alex Pilkington took issue with the title of the course, telling News-Press that he would have a preferred a name such as “Systemic Racism” because “giving it ‘White Racism’ as the name of the class” makes it seem “like it’s intentional you are trying to make white people look at the class a certain way.”
Thornhill adamantly rejects such criticisms, though, remarking in an initial statement that his course is “not anti-white; it is anti-white racism.”
While he makes clear that “not all white people are racists,” pointing out that “some are even anti-racist,” Thornhill also asserts that there is “much evidence” showing that “the U.S. has been and remains a white supremacist society.”
“Any ‘controversy’ generated by the course title or description testifies to its urgency,” his statement concludes. “Attempts to paint the course as anything other than that contained in the course description, which is self-explanatory, betrays gross ignorance and/or malevolent intent as well as a self-evident need to enroll in the course.”