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Your View | Teacher fired for teaching white privilege is proof it exists

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I read your article about Mathew Hawn, a tenured Sullivan County high school teacher, who was fired for educating his students about race in America. Apparently, the most serious charge leveled against him was that he raised the issue of white privilege, but failed to present alternate viewpoints to the fact that whites in our country have historically had a leg up on people of color.

The dominant role of white people in America is so well-documented, it’s hard to imagine a credible alternative viewpoint. (Are science teachers required to present the alternative viewpoint that gravity doesn’t exist?)

Race is not the sole defining characteristic of our country. But you can’t just ignore slavery. Or lynchings, segregated schools, segregated neighborhoods, anti-miscegenation laws, bosses who wouldn’t hire Black people, Blacks required to ride in the backs of the buses, and “Whites Only” establishments like hotels and lunch counters.

Now, if you’re white and you’re saying, “Hey, this isn’t my fault. I didn’t own slaves,” then, of course, you are absolutely correct. But centuries of slavery and discrimination have had pernicious effects that have endured long after the institution of slavery was crushed.

Because of discrimination, our white parents or grandparents may have been able to get a job or an education that was denied to people of color. That means we, as their descendant, are more likely to have a decent education and a good job. So the majority population ends up with more money, education and power. And that is where the concept of white privilege comes in.

If there’s a cogent alternative view on white privilege, I haven’t seen it. But I do know that a bunch of white people just managed to get a teacher fired because he taught about white privilege. Isn’t that proof it exists?


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