Elite college stops offering ‘American Whiteness’ class
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.
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.
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.
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