Seminary asks people to peer through 'white privilege glasses'

The Chicago Theological Seminary offers a video on its website designed to help white people understand their privilege by donning a metaphorical pair of "white privilege glasses."

A theological seminary is urging people to examine their privilege by trying on a pair of “White Privilege Glasses.”

The Chicago Theological Seminary, part of The United Church of Christ, created the web video to “shine a light on White Privilege,” according to the website, which asserts that “the racial divide will only change when the collective ‘we’ understand the concepts of privilege and begin to identify and correct the systems that advantage one group over the other.”

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“The mission of CTS is to work towards greater social justice. And nowhere is this more needed than in the area of race,” the school explains. “This is all part of CTS’s effort to take a greater role at the forefront of social activism. It is about becoming an actual voice in the national dialogue and championing important, urgent issues.”

The video features three people sitting at a table, and when the sole white person disputes the existence of “White Privilege,” he is challenged to put on a pair of “white privilege glasses” by the two people of color at the table.

One of the first scenes the white person encounters is a street sign indicating “Jefferson St.” and “Washington St.,” both of which transform to read “slave owner” through the lens of the white privilege glasses.

Another scene shows the person walking into a store, where he is greeted kindly by the owner. Upon donning the white privilege glasses, the owner’s friendly greeting turns into a scowl. In another instance, the man walks up to a police officer and gets a friendly response, only to have the officer storm away once he puts on the white privilege glasses.

The video concludes with the person wearing the white privilege glasses failing to hail a taxi.

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The CTS website also offers a discussion guide intended for group viewings, which urges people to ask questions like “How are issues like education, healthcare, poverty, housing, and economic status related to White Privilege?” and “What is the cost of White Privilege for white people?”

In addition to the discussion question, the guide also asks participants to “Perform A White Privilege Audit” by taking a few minutes to “consider how White Privilege manifests itself in your life.”

“Look at the pictures hanging on the walls of your home. Who is represented in your personal photographs? In paintings? Who are the artists? Do they reflect various races?” one of the prompts asks.

“Look at names of the streets in your town. Or the names of local colleges. Or, even the faces on the money in your pocket. How many are white?”

Campus Reform reached out to CTS for additional information about the program, but did not receive a response.

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