The Atlantic

The Limits of Talking About Privilege to Teenagers

Getting private-school kids outside of their bubbles is more valuable than introducing them to the elite academic subculture a few years early.
Source: Keith Bedford / Reuters

In Manhattan, educators at several private schools have decided that one of the best ways to teach white kids about race is to have them discuss it with other white people. "At a few schools," the New York Times reports, "students and faculty members are starting white affinity groups, where they tackle issues of white privilege, often in all-white settings. The groups have sprung from an idea that whites should not rely on their black, Asian or Latino peers to educate them about racism and white dominance." Once again, elite subculture imitates a Portlandia sketch.

These sessions are part of a trend.

At the kinds of schools that labor mightily to secure unearned advantages for their students in the college admissions process, "faculty members and students are grappling with race and class in ways that may seem surprising to outsiders and deeply unsettling to some longtime insiders," Kyle Spencer reports beneath the headline, "At New York Private Schools, Challenging White Privilege From the Inside."

The trend consists of schools "asking white students and faculty members to examine their own race and to dig deeply into how their presence affects life for everyone in their school communities, with a special emphasis on the meaning and repercussions of what has come to be called white privilege." At Friend's Seminary, for example, a "Day of Concern" entailed gathering students into small discussion groups where "the overarching theme of the day was identity, privilege and power." The ideas being taught have trickled down

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