Binghamton University Is Trying To Teach RA’s How To Deal With Racist Idiots, And Racists Idiots Don’t Like That

When you’re confronted with a racist nincompoop, how do you typically react? Some will get angry and scream, or even turn violent. Others will opt for the “deer in headlights” method, staring blankly, unsure of what to say or do. Me? I usually just bombard them with humorous insults until they walk away or, if the Gods are just, cry and start cutting themselves. That second one hasn’t happened yet. Fingers crossed.

Binghamton University — a school that is maybe ten minutes away from my home — decided to answer this question with a diversity-centric course offered to residential assistants (“RA’s”) that teaches them how to interact and deal with racist idiots. It’s meant to teach those RA’s about white privilege, and how to spread that knowledge to others. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?

There’s just one problem: They named the course “Stop White People 2k16.” And now, right-wing Americans are scream-crying because, you know, “reverse racism” is something that they think exists (spoiler alert… it doesn’t).

The story, which was broken earlier this week by Binghamton Review, has picked up nationwide attention, trending as a top story on both Twitter and Facebook for two straight days. And as one might expect, there are two types of responses to this story: nods of approval from the educated, and bulgy-veined, scratchy-voiced outrage from everyone else.

Amidst that latter, dumber group of people are subsects of idiocy. First, you have the mouth-breathers who see the headline, ignore the article, and presume the university is teaching a course in how to literally “stop white people.” Like, eradicating white people, or making them abandon their way of life, or some other silly thing the school definitely doesn’t intend.

Then you have those who believe the school is teaching a course on how to be “racist” toward white people. As if the school is teaching students pejorative phrases to use against white people in conversation, like calling someone a “honky” or a “cracker.”

And then you have a third group of people: the ones who understand what the school intends with the course, but are opposed to it because teaching diversity — educating young people on white privilege and trying to explain to them how words and actions can harm others, emotionally or otherwise — is somehow a bad thing.

These intellectually-challenged quasi-humans need to understand a few bullet-points on racism in America. I doubt they’re going to learn, but hey, I’ll list them out anyway. It’s sort of my job. For those of you who are hate-reading this article, prepare yourselves: I’m about to use some big words, so you might want to open up Google in another tab, okay? Thanks.

  • Prejudice is when someone “prejudges” someone else, usually (but not necessarily) for their immutable characteristics. It’s possible for anyone to be prejudice against anyone else; yes, black people can be prejudice against white people.
  • Racism is a system where society at large, or pockets of said society, exhibit collective prejudice against minorities that results in unfair treatment toward that group of people.
  • A racist is a person who uncaringly benefits from racism, and/ or actively participates in racism. We colloquially use that phrase to label people who are showing prejudice toward others, but that’s incorrect.
  • Discrimination is a byproduct of either prejudice or racism (typically both). It means that a person, party, group, or entire culture are being denied the same rights as others. Teaching a course on diversity is not “discrimination,” unless that course is only available to one group of people and not another.
  • White privilege is a byproduct of racism specifically, whereby white people are treated more fairly (if not preferentially) by society as a whole, and benefit unknowingly from that treatment. It does not mean that white people get free things constantly or that all white people have better lives than all black people.

So is this course prejudice? No, because it’s teaching people how not to be prejudice. Is it racist? No, because the school isn’t weaponizing this course or using it as a stepping stool for radical changes that would harm white people. Is it discrimination? No, because every RA is allowed to take it, regardless of their skin color.

Yes, the course’s name could have been more thoughtful; someone should have thought up a better name for the program, one that was less controversial. But perhaps that controversy was intentional, and for all of the right reasons.

Coming from a background in satire, I know as an absolute fact that sometimes, it’s better to use a controversial headline that shocks people into reading content where I can then expose them to truths they wouldn’t otherwise experience. That tactic doesn’t fly in legitimate news; you won’t see any of that on Firebrand Left. But my goal with every satire article I ever wrote was to shock them into reading something they wouldn’t read otherwise, and then peppering that message with comedy so the message sticks. I think that system worked pretty well in many of those articles.

Perhaps Binghamton University intends to do the same: to use this controversy to lure in students who otherwise wouldn’t participate in such a class, and then those students will leave with a better understanding of all those terms we mentioned here a bit ago.

It’s only natural that racist imbeciles would react negatively to this story, especially after learning what the program is actually meant to accomplish. Spreading tolerance and teaching people how to be sensitive toward others is bigotry bug spray. It’s no wonder your run-of-the-mill Trump supporter feels threatened when they’re confronted by tolerance. It’s also no surprise that intolerance toward their own intolerance makes them squeamish. How dare someone challenge their stupidity?

Photo by jacquesy_m