A school district in British Columbia, Canada is in hot water for the unpardonable sins of acknowledging that white privilege exists and asking students to consider whether they benefit from it.
The posters include phrases like “Got privilege?” (strong reference to an ad that first appeared in 1993) and “If you don’t have to think about it, it’s a privilege.” The posters also feature quotes from school administrators in the district on their experience with racism and white privilege.
As is usually the case with people who have never given more than a passing thought to their own privilege, some parents are decidedly unhappy. According to Kansas Field Allen, the mother of a student in the district, “95 percent of the people [I’ve talked to] are in favour of having the posters taken down.”
“And that’s from all races,” Allen added, definitely not lying at all.
The posters were put up in response to reports from students who have experienced racism, prejudice, and bias in the school district. When district officials approached individual school principals about the campaign, every principal agreed that the posters were a good idea.
District Superintendent Teresa Downs also noted that while the posters are new, the content is not. “The dialogue is certainly not new in Gold Trail, the posters are what’s new.”
The chief complaint from parents like Allen is that the district never communicated the plan for the campaign to parents ahead of time. (Honest question: why would parents think they deserve final approval on what is effectively an educational campaign? Are they similarly angry that their kids’ algebra teachers don’t get their go-ahead on lesson plans?)
As of now, the district has no plans to remove the posters. District officials have offered to speak with aggrieved parents in person about their complaints, but are uninterested in getting into a debate on social media about the campaign.
“We really think the one-on-one, face-to-face dialogue is what is best around such a complex issue and matter,” Downs said.