Elite college stops offering ‘American Whiteness’ class

  • After offering the course for the past three years, Grinnell College in Iowa appears to have scrapped a course called "American Whiteness" that referred to whiteness as "a very bad idea."
  • Ohio State University, meanwhile, has stop offering a similar course on "Crossing Identity Boundaries" that focused on concepts like microaggressions, privilege, and power.

The elite Grinnell College appears to have stopped offering a class founded upon the premise that whiteness “is a very bad idea” following widespread controversy. 

The course, “American Whiteness” was taught for three years at Grinnell College by Professor Karla Erickson, a self-described feminist ethnographer, as Campus Reform initially reported in August 2017.

"It is possible to avoid hating white people as individuals but to criticize the ‘idea of white people in general.’"   

Following Campus Reform’s report, numerous outlets covered the class, including Truth Revolt, Legal Insurrection, The Daily Caller, Accuracy in Academia, and others. 

[RELATED: ‘Abolition of Whiteness’ course abolished]

Although Erickson declined to provide an updated version of the syllabus, a copy of the syllabus from 2015 is still online as a reference document, and the syllabus begins with a critique of whiteness and white identity. 

“Whiteness is, among much else, a very bad idea,” the syllabus begins, citing Kansas University Professor David Roediger, who does concede that “It is possible to avoid hating white people as individuals but to criticize the ‘idea of white people in general.’"

Additionally, the 2015 version of the course featured readings such as “Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness,” “The Case For Reparations,” and “The Souls of White Folk.” The class was offered in 2015, 2016, and 2017, but a Campus Reform follow-up on the course discovered that it is no longer being offered during the upcoming academic year. 

Campus Reform reached out to Erikson and Grinnell College to ask why the course is no longer offered, but did not receive a response despite multiple requests. 

[RELATED: Grinnell College warns against ‘deplorable and problematic’ costumes]

Other colleges, meanwhile, have begun to shelve similar classes. Hunter College, for example, is no longer offering a longstanding course on “The Abolition of Whiteness.” 

“We’ll be examining how whiteness—and/or white supremacy and violence—is intertwined with conceptions of gender, race, sexuality, class, body ability, nationality, and age,” noted the initial course description. 

Ohio State University has also scrapped a similar class, Campus Reform learned this week. 

That class, “Crossing Identity Boundaries,” sought to guide students through discussions on privilege and oppression, posing questions such as “Why are guys always expected to pay on a date?” 

Campus Reform also reached out to Ohio State University for comment, but did not receive a response. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

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Toni Airaksinen
Toni Airaksinen | Columnist at PJ Media

Toni Airaksinen is Columnist at PJ Media and a Consultant at Youth Radio. She was previously a New Jersey Campus Correspondent, reporting on liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform with a focus on Title IX, the OCR, and the First Amendment. During college, she also was a columnist for Quillette and The Columbia Spectator. Her exclusives have been featured on FOX News and The Drudge Report. She graduated from Barnard College in 2018.

20 Articles by Toni Airaksinen