As part of a “cultural competency workshop,” students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are being assigned a score based on the amount of “white privilege” they may have.
During the workshop, students can participate in several activities that “examine white privilege and how it is more powerful than other types of benefits afforded by society.” One activity in particular, called the “white privilege survey,” requires students to quantify their privilege based on their responses to a series of statements.
“I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match the color of my skin,” one statement reads, for which students then apply a number between zero and five based on how true the statement bears in relation to their daily lives.
Another set of statements fixates on the presence of each student’s race in pop-culture with questions such as:
· “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the newspaper and see people of my race widely and positively represented.”
· “I can conveniently buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.”
One oddly phrased statement asserts that swearing, wearing hand-me-downs, or not handling correspondences in a timely manner without racist consequences is a privilege.
“I can swear, dress in secondhand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my races,” it states.
Another “cultural competency” activity, called “Uncovering the Hidden Rules of Class,” groups students into their respective “class” based on whether or not they know how to complete certain tasks affiliated with that class.
Students likely grew up in poverty, for example, if they know how to:
· “Find the best rummage sales”
· “Get around without a car”
· “Move in half a day”
· “Entertain friends with just [a] personality and stories”
The document then describes activities like setting a table, using a credit card, knowing how to repair household items, and being able to read a menu in multiple languages as exclusively middle or upper-class traits, but leaves questions about the purpose of the exercise unanswered.
The workshop includes many other similar activities and could last up to “several hours,” according to a description listed on the school’s wellness center page.
It is unclear if all students are required to complete the workshop, but a handbook for proctors of the workshop indicates that at least some students are “mandated to attend.”
“Be aware that some members of the audience may not want to be there (e.g., they were mandated to attend),” it says. “Try to encourage them to participate and change their feelings about the workshop.”
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