A friend and Power Line reader sent me this excerpt from a study guide used at George Washington University in the class of one of his children:
Prejudice + Power = Racism
* Racism, however, requires institutional power
* In the U.S. white people alone hold the institutional power to discriminate on the basis of race
* Political power (representation, law, judges)
* Economic (wealth, income, banks, CEOs)
* Social (media, representation, culture norms)
According to my friend, this is a lesson — not a topic for discussion. It is part of the course content. Getting this point “wrong” would likely be counted against a student for grading purposes.
Note that by adding the spurious requirement of “power” to the definition of racism, the study guide seems to exclude not just blacks, but an awful lot of prejudiced whites from the possibility of being racist. But maybe the author attributes to all whites the institutional power of white elites to discriminate (a power, by the way, that is now possessed by black elites in some contexts).
If so, this would come as news to the white folk who appear in Hillbilly Elegy and, indeed, to a great many Trump voters. They may think the institutional power of white elites is more likely to produce discrimination in favor of blacks than in favor of them — a view that finds support in college admissions practices, for example.
But what’s the point of arguing. I’m sure the sociologists and psychologists who came up with the “formula” for racism have thought this all through carefully and that it has been validated at many a conference.
Besides, it says right there in the study guide that racism requires institutional (the word is even italicized) power to discriminate on the basis of race, and in the U.S. white people alone hold that power.
End of story.
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