Prof To Discuss ‘White Problem’

Lisa Hoppenjans, Chapel Hill (North Carolina) News, April 1, 2007

When Robert Jensen talks about white supremacy, he isn’t referring to the KKK or neo-Nazis.

If you’re white, he’s talking about you.

“It’s important for those of us who are white to realize that what we call the race problem is really a white problem,” Jensen said. “The problem of white supremacy.”

Jensen, an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, will speak twice this week in Chapel Hill. On Tuesday, he will speak on UNC’s campus and the next day at the Southern Human Services Center.

James Spivey, the acting director for the county’s department of human rights and relations, said Jensen’s visit is part of an attempt to spark what the Human Relations Commission is calling “courageous conversations,” honest dialogue about race, diversity and privilege.

White supremacy, Jensen said, is the “unearned privilege that comes simply from being white in a white society.”

“My work, as a white person, isn’t to go into communities of color and explain this to them. . .. It’s to take it to a white audience that understands and to ask them simply, what are we going to do about it?” Jensen said.

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“The majority of white people, even liberal white people who see themselves as appropriately multicultural, really do believe at the end of the day that that which comes out of Europe . . . is a superior form of politics [and] culture,” Jensen said. “What is held up as the pinnacle of human knowledge? It tends to be that which comes out of white Europe.”

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