Once upon a time in America, higher education institutions were places of prestige.
There existed the notion of the “college man” — that impressive young gentleman with a lettered sweater and a bright future.
He was destined for a pipe and highback leather chair; and whatever he was studying, it was positively prep for producing a more functional society.
College, one might say, has changed.
These are the days of pink-haired protestors signing up for secondary school.
And with them comes the rest: When even many low-level jobs require degrees, the end result is that every kind of person goes to college.
Somewhere in our evolution — perhaps aligned with the ubiquity of a university education — majors and degrees have arisen that aren’t quite the community staples of old.
Case in point: a new Bachelor of Arts program at New Hampshire’s Keene State College.
Its emphasis: “Antiracist Studies.”
As for what “antiracism” is, UCLA Law Professor Kimberlé describes it as “the active dismantling of systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize the contemporary dimensions of white dominance. This, of course, also involves a critical understanding of the history of whiteness in America.”
So pre-med, take a seat. Business, you’ve had your day. Modern members of the educated class will be certified in whooping whiteness.
What’s the real-world application?
No matter the answer, though Keene may be keen on leading the charge, other colleges have triumphed as punch-beaters.
The University of Central Florida boasts a graduate program in Social Justice in Public Service.
The University of Michigan has launched a Center for Racial Justice and hosts a “Masterclass in Activism.”
The State University of New York at Cortland recently held a three-week “Antiracism Challenge” that schooled young adults on “how white people got made.”
In September, the University of Nebraska marketed its Racial Justice, Equity and Inclusion program as preparing students for “success” — not in industry, but government.
The University of Pittsburgh has posted a job ad for “Assistant Professor – Structural Racism, Oppression, and Black Political Experiences.”
A California college is eyeing an honors program for everyone but whites — based on equity rather than grades.
And in January, the president of Portland State University proclaimed “racial justice” as his “highest priority.”
I could mention more, but you probably have things to do today.
As for Keane’s new degree, participants — per the school website — will learn techniques of interrogation:
Working across a set of four focus areas, students unpack, measure, and interrogate the deep and abiding impact that notions of race have made on society. Students investigate the experiences, expressions, and possibilities — voiced and embodied, principally, by people of color — that emerge from an ongoing struggle with white supremacist ideology.
Many students, it turns out, will be majoring in…themselves:
Building on these studies, students will engage Antiracist practices to identify and repair harm done by racism in their own thinking and in the structures and actions of their communities.
A few of the courses on offer:
- IIPSYC 172 An Introduction to Restorative Justice
- IIWGS 101 Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
- IIWGS 240 Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Pop Culture
- ISGEOG 203 Globalization Culture & Place
- IHWGS 290 Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies
- IIWGS 235 Approaches to Latinidades
- WGS 303 Latina Feminist Theories
- ISENST 382 Environmental Advocacy
- IHHIST 372 Gender and Power in Early North America 1600-1800
- HIST 362 American Slavery/American Capitalism 1787-1848
- WGS 301 Transnational Feminist Theories
In other words, those procuring the new diploma won’t likely end up doing your taxes.
But it’s a new world, and there are new things to learn.
How will America be affected?
We’re going to learn that, too.
All of us.
The good news: Whiteness will finally be wiped out.