The Office of Inclusion and Diversity at my university sponsored a trip to the 17th Annual White Privilege Conference which is being held in Philadelphia this year. We have a delegation of 19 people including students, faculty and staff from departments all over campus.
We attended the conference over the course of a weekend and by the end of the first day I was thinking that it was going to be a really great weekend because I was going to learn so many things that I could take with me back to campus and in everyday life. By the end of the second day I did a complete 180.
When you go to a conference like this, the point is to learn, and figure out how to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, by the end of the weekend I felt that nothing had been accomplished. I chose session where I expected to learn and walk out of the room with something to takeaway and something to teach other people. I learned nothing, except that some people will never admit that they have privilege and that there are way too many people who aren’t confident enough in themselves to fight for anyone else. This breaks my heart.
In one of my sessions, a lot of people talked about how other people define who they are and basically admitted that they just let it happen. WHY?!! You do not have to prove yourself to anyone, yet some many people are stuck thinking that they do. It made no sense to me.
What pissed me off the most was that there were blatant examples of people exerting their white privilege over other people. Sometimes it even came from the facilitators and people hosting the workshops. When they sent out a survey to talk about our experiences, I had so many complaints. The first is that there needs to be a training for people hosting workshops so that 1. They know how to check their own privilege before teaching other people and 2. They need to be able to call people out when they make racist/sexist/homophobic and any other bigoted comment because SURPRISE the whole reason that we are here is to stop those things from happening!!!
I feel like this conference, a national conference, has the potential to be something great. But if the people running it don’t actual know what the hell they’re doing then how can any progress be made?