What You Heard About that White Privilege Conference Wasn’t a Joke, and Why It Matters


When I first read that during the 15th annual White Privilege Conference a teacher had made comments like “If you don’t want to work for equity, get the f**k out of education” and “I have to everyday wake up and acknowledge that I am so deeply imbedded with racist thoughts and notions and actions…” I thought, Oh, come on. This has to be an April Fool’s joke. This is satire, right?* Actually, no.

The MacIver Institute, which calls itself “the free market voice for Wisconsin”, has been reporting on the details of some of the sessions held at the conference. The controversial remarks came from Kim Radersma, whose session was called Stories from the Frontlines of Education: Confessions of a White High School English Teacher.  I was surprised that a professional in a room full of professionals had used the phrase “get the f**k out” and that someone would believe it was worthwhile to have a White Privilege Conference if she will “never be recovered” from the “racist thoughts” that are “deeply imbedded” within her. But apparently, it happened.

So did the session called Against the Tea Party Movement. The speaker, Leonard Zeskind, an activist who deals mostly with issues of race, claimed that “the Tea Party is a racist problem” and “the longer you are in the Tea Party, the more racist you become.” He went as far as to say that white parents enrolling their children in private schools are racist and Tea Partiers are angry that a black man is president. “They don’t think they have [white privilege] anymore, since the white monopoly on the presidency was broke.” He was certainly right about one thing: that “if you’ll stand up and say it like that” – the Tea Party is racist – “people will listen to you.” Yes, accusations of racism do indeed draw attention.

It’s a good thing a pro-capitalist think tank is writing about this. Why? Yes, attacking the Tea Party means attacking strong proponents of capitalism.* Yes, calling the president’s detractors racist is a distraction from the disaster the past five years have been. More importantly, anti-capitalist sentiments arise when one starts to believe that the White Man is successful only because he won a rigged game. Surely society’s bias towards whites must be corrected somehow? Can’t the government do that through affirmative action and wealth redistribution?

I know many of us on the right spend a lot of time pointing out that just because somebody’s white doesn’t mean they have everything handed to them on a silver platter, it’s not fair to judge people negatively just because they’re white, and people who aren’t white have attained wealth and success in ways that don’t involve blaming the White Man for their setbacks. That’s great. It’s important for cultivating values of individualism and personal responsibility. Keep at it.

*Like my recent post here.
**I won’t deny the Tea Party has its issues, which come down to its idealism. But it is an advocate for capitalism.


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