This School's Offering A Class Called "The Problem Of Whiteness"

Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
A major university is taking the national conversation about racial relations into the classroom, with a new course called "The Problem of Whiteness," according to The Washington Post.

The University of Wisconsin at Madison course, created by assistant professor Damon Sajnani in the African Studies Department, will explore how white people "consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism and how this, not only devastates communities of color, but also perpetuates the oppression of most white folks along the lines of class and gender," according to the description.

"Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably ‘no.’ But here is your chance!" the class description reads.

To many, the course might seem like an interesting — and constructive — exercise, especially given the rise of the alt-right movement and the post-election racial tensions. It's being offered at a university where the overwhelming majority of the student population identifies as white and only 2% of the students are Black.

But Republican State Assemblyman Dave Murphy is not happy about the offering.

In a statement released last week
, the lawmaker said the premise of the class was that "white people are racist," and he railed against taxpayers being "expected to pay for this garbage."

"I support academic freedom and free speech," he told The Washington Post. "Free speech also means the public has the right to be critical of their public university. The university’s handling of controversies like this appears to the public as a lack of balance in intellectual openness and diversity of political thought on campus."

The University of Wisconsin is standing with Sajnani and has defended the elective class.

"We believe this course, which is one of thousands offered at our university, will benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues," the school said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. "The course is a challenge and response to racism of all kinds."

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