Arizona scuttles bill that took aim at whiteness studies

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tags: education, Whiteness and Race Theory

State Representatives Thorpe and Finchem proposed HB 2120. Both stopped accepting calls on the bill; Thorpe’s office referred questions about it to a news release that quoted him as saying, “Since the 1960s and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, our nation has made great advances in protecting civil rights and curtailing discrimination. However, we are now seeing classes popping up that truly threaten these monumental gains.”

Thorpe was apparently referring to a course at Arizona State University called Whiteness and Race Theory. In an earlier interview with, he criticized classes on whiteness and lessons or events such as “privilege walks.” In the latter exercise, students take steps either forward or backward based on their responses to questions about whether or not they've felt discriminated against or advantaged in various situations, due to their race or another characteristic. So a white, male, heterosexual student from a wealthy background might end up ahead of a lesbian minority woman from a poor family, visually demonstrating how institutional biases may have impacted them.

“If you then look at an individual whose ancestors, because of their race, for example, they are linked to people that did something 100 or 200 years ago, that person who’s living today has little or no association with what happened 200 years ago,” Thorpe told “So let’s not have a wedge issue and cause that person to be vilified when they absolutely had nothing to do with some event that happened in the past.”

He said that doesn’t mean ignoring historical facts, but ensuring “they’re accurately discussed.” Asked whether it would be acceptable to teach about current race issues, such as the fact that minorities are disproportionately stopped by traffic police, he said of the bill, “This is draft No. 1.”

Read entire article at Inside Higher ED

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