Denial is More Than a River: White Privilege and the Power of Denial

Denial… as Bill Watterson has said, “It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.” Well for some in Delavan-Darien, Wisconsin, the river of denial is running as deep and steady as in Egypt (h/t Mark Twain).


(Image source)

Seriously though, Delavan-Darien High School was recently under fire by parents who reportedly:

…accused a diversity class of promoting a critical race theory, alleging that students are being taught that minorities are disadvantaged by white oppressors.

Fox news gleefully reported that the class “…exposed students to radical leftist thinkers.” Parents of students at the high school described the curriculum was “indoctrination,” due to the exposure of works by University of Texas professor Robert Jensen, author of The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege and social experiments which required students to participate in critically analyzing the racial composition of dolls on the shelves of a local Wal-mart.

One of the complaining parent said that the reading materials and assigned tasks were…“meant to divide and victimize non-whites and condition whites to feel guilty and to be more passive.” Someone reached out to the (conservative) Young America’s Foundation, which dismissed the class as “race-baiting,” “indoctriniation,” and so much “white guilt.”

The Superintendent Robert Crist deflected the controversy by blaming the class on the youth of the teacher within the course.  He went on to state the course raised “red flags.”  He believes “in helping kids understand the basic objectives of curriculum and not use some radical material to get a student to support some kind of a special theory.” Special he says?  Tell that to the people of color who fell prey to the racial predatory loans (1990s-2000s) that fueled the recent housing crisis. Regardless, currently the class is out of commission and under review by the powers that be within the local school district.

Overall, I feel that a large percentage of governmental and institutional policies and programs enacted today are essentially continuing a legacy of control that benefit the majority—Whites.  This in fact is a legacy many deny even when confronted with surmounting evidence that affirms otherwise.  But then again, why admit transgressions when the strengthen efforts to continue the heritage of oppression endured by people of color subsequently benefits them—the elite proprietors of money, power, and resources within this country.  Within this setting they continue to hold the reins of supremacy over the marginalized and less fortunate.  Their influence and direction set the rhythm for those on the outside of their inner circle to dance to.  They determine who is worthy of their attention and admiration and those who are to be ignored and detested.  They determine those who should be considered safe and those who should be seen as dangerous.  They have the power to influence the minds of those here and abroad.

In the general public when discussing the pains of racism today, I have heard the uttered words, “Come on, get over it.  It is in the past and has no significance in a country where a Black man can be elected President of the United States.”  Sociologist Bonilla-Silva describes this attitude as “color blind racism.”  He observes that Whites, collectively, have:

“…developed powerful explanations — which have ultimately become justification — for contemporary racial inequality that exculpate them from any responsibility for the status of people of color.”

This subsequently occurs due to the fact that in general, many Whites and Blacks perceive the idea of racism much differently. First, Whites distinguish racism as acts that are founded within the notion of prejudice. Secondly, people of color, such as Blacks observe racism as “systemic or institutionalized.”

I hold fast to the certainty that racism cannot be quantified into simple attitudes or acts of prejudice directed toward a person or group of people, but forever unremitting and replicated within in our society within an array of systems and institutions. Hence, it would not be hard to arrive at the conclusion that racism is an immortal ideological symbiote that has latched upon the psyche of the world’s consciousness.  Furthermore, those affected and suffer from colorblind racism bears a lack of comprehension in relation to the continued hold racism and oppression has on all major systems and institutions.

In other words…White Privilege…


  1. sam enderby

    Denial, yes. But I’d really like to know what these parents are AFRAID of. Is it “losing” their White privilege? Exposing the bloody and racist past of their beloved country? What? Forty-odd years ago a (white) professor of education wrote, ” The educational system which takes a chance and incorporates blackness, soul into its being, will revolutionize the world. A new humanism will encompass the Judeo-Christian-Black concepts of man and history. The finding of man will come when man loses his racism, just as man had to lose his immorality and his paranoia.”

    Where have these parents been all their lives? For God’s sake, keep them out of the classroom until they learn something themselves.

  2. Seattle in Texas

    Probably the biggest problem with K-12 education (and too often higher education included) is the lack of critical pedagogy in general which serves to reinforce and uphold the systemic racist stratified power structures of this nation (not correct it)–Foucault also came to mind on why the white response (which seems to be inherently tied into the systemic practice of whites some how habitually making themselves the victims of society…victims of those they have been, and still are, constantly oppressing at both conscious and unconscious levels) and the role the education system plays in all this with relation to power relations and the oppressors and the oppressed: –this only to compliment the most excellent main post….

    And may I go back and seek my own mental refuge in music such as: and …because it takes me back to times that I believe represent times of real social progress being made that captured notions of “hope” in humanity that I remember…which seems to have been lost to a much stronger current moving in the opposite direction that is taking U.S. society backwards at a very fast rate and one that I am unable to completely fathom with all honesty…. Definitely not cool…to say the least…. The U.S. is very far from confronting it’s past at any honest level and further, taking responsibility or the initiative to help correct for it (past, present, and future) in any meaningful way….

  3. cordoba blue

    Hey Suzie Seattle Homemaker! Long time no hear from. I’m glad you’re seeking mental refuge. You need it.
    I think the problem here is that white parents are unduly afraid of a race riot. I’m not being sarcastic. Whites don’t want black students to become bellicose.
    I’ve actually heard teachers say,”Let’s not go into racism too deeply. We don’t want to start something.” Doesn’t take a high IQ to decipher what they mean. In North Carolina, where the schools are about 50% black and 50% other racial groups combined, the prospect of black kids standing on desks and throwing text books is a genuine {although very inane} fear among middle class whites.
    In 1960’s movies about the South, you always hear the white “town authorities” tell the newcomer white anti-racist, “You come down here an’ try to rile things up. Get the blacks all upset. We don’t want your northern ideas down here. We been doin’ jes fine for 200 years without you liberal Yankees tryin’ to make all these blacks go crazy with uppity ideas.” This post sounds just like this! Don’t upset the status quo or the blacks will throw rocks through Walmart windows and start stealing flat screen tv’s. We don’t want another Watts incident!
    Seriously, this is the mentality behind allowing “quiet” talks about racism that took place “in the past” but that is now happily terminated. The powers that be don’t want African Americans to feel cheated in any capacity. Honest discussions about present day racism might actually do this.
    The irony is that black people already know they’re being subjugated. Is it too much to ask that open discussions in an academic setting acknowledges this? Personally, I don’t think anybody will start throwing chairs. But whites are paranoid on this subject.

      • cordoba blue

        Thank you Seattle. I hope I didn’t disturb your mental refuging. I truly did enjoy your piece about critical pedagogy…”which seems to have been lost to a much stronger current moving in the opposite direction”. Almost waxing poetic.. Or as Yoda would say,”Pieces of pedagogy take with you.”

        • Seattle in Texas

          why thank you…it is a direct contrast from Texas and an area that values the Confederate Flag, still lives in the Civil War, and where whites yearn to live in the times of slavery…. In contrast to this, Seattle was definitely a most awesome place to be raised in. Music of all sorts takes me back to good memories for sure I credit Seattle for my most awesome family I have now, including my 4 beautiful grandchildren and one whose due to be in the world very soon…all whom are securely raised to be away from people like yourself as my family protected me from the white Christians, etc. Chicano in California and Black, not African American, down here…both lower SES, which is significantly different from the middle to higher SES.

          But Seattle has it’s dark sides too…which brings me to, unless you know anything about being homeless, having homeless parents or parents addicted to drugs, drug addiction in general and all that goes with that, prostitution and human trafficking, etc., etc., etc., firsthand and not merely from books (i.e. the all weather liberal thing Merton talks about) you really need to keep your white elitist and racist bullshit to yourself or spew it on this site and keep separate from me.

  4. cordoba blue

    You really should learn to discuss things with people in a calmer manner Seattle. I think my comment did a pretty good imitation of how whites try to counter allowing candid discussions about racism in public academic settings. Yet, you insist on calling me a “white elitist” who spews “racist bullshit”. You don’t like anybody who’s white. Period.
    No white person is poor enough, homeless enough, lived in horror enough, been addicted to drugs enough, been sold in human trafficking rings enough, been sexually molested by parents enough,illiterate enough, engaged in criminal activities enough for you.
    I apologize that my parents didn’t sexually molest me, that I’m not a prostitute, don’t do recreational drugs, aren’t typing this from the state penitentiary, wasn’t sold by a human trafficking ring, wasn’t homeless or slept underneath a freeway. I’m so very sorry that you think anybody who doesn’t live a marginalized lifestyle, for whatever reason, is a white elitist who spews racist bullshit.
    I assume you have lived under all the above horrible circumstances. I’m sorry about that too. But if you despise white liberals so much, why are you always trying to appeal to them? Why “open their eyes” to reality if they’re a lost cause? Why beat a dead horse? Why even post comments on here at all, if you aren’t trying to advocate change and hope white people will listen?
    Bottom line: if you don’t learn to communicate in a more civil manner, nobody will listen to you. You are the one spewing hate, not me. Stop hating and start learning to communicate with a more open-minded attitude, because YOU are narrow-minded. You hate everybody who you believe hasn’t “suffered enough”.
    Would it please you if we were all heroin addicts? Maybe then you’d feel more comfortable. Sorry to disappoint. But, for example, heroin addicts need doctors. Doctors need to be sober and not addicts themselves to help heroin addicts. Tell me Seattle, when you need a doctor, do you say, “Get away from me you white elitist! You’re clean, intelligent, educated and not high. I want a homeless alcoholic with a 5th grade education who sleeps under the freeway to treat me, or else I’ll just lie here and bleed!”
    Would you entrust the care of your grandchildren to homeless alcoholics? Is being a homeless alcoholic some kind of badge of honor in your eyes? You see Seattle, some of us have to stay sane to help those who can’t help themselves, for whatever reason. Think about that. Some of us have to stay strong, if we can, to aid those who aren’t.
    Being addicted to drugs and wandering the streets blindly, and engaging in criminal activity is a cry for help.It’s not some kind of noble symbol. There’s nothing noble about being miserable! It’s just simply miserable. Period.
    Additionally, if nobody is sound enough to help these people, where will they go? Thus, I am proud I can help the people I do. I’m glad I am strong enough to help all my students attain their dreams. You are suggesting I be ashamed because I’m not on the streets in an alcoholic daze prostituting myself for a hamburger. Where is your sense of logic? Where?

  5. timeforfreedom

    Once again we anti-racists are being left behind here because the very same anti-racist intellectuals are NOT helping us deal with the quite devastating arguments that are being thrown at us by these white dissidents who employ, what they call, their Mantra and all of its related sub-points or arguments. Take this issue of ‘privilege for example. Well, none of our anti-racist bretheren are going to African countries and demanding the end of Black privilege; none of us are going to Asian countries and demanding the end of Asian privilege there; IT IS WHITE COUNTRIES AND ONLY WHITE COUNTRIES WHERE THE PRIVILEGE OF THE INDIGENOUS OR FOUNDING WHITE POPULATION IS BEING QUESTIONED AND ATTACKED. This flies in the face of the fact that White people in South Africa and Zimbabwe are being either genocided or just killed in large numbers. The Europeans have an historical claim to what is now Western China, but we don’t argue even touch these very valid issues, and these goddamned white dissident mantra creeps keep on calling us on it and calling us anti-white genocidal freaks, and we have no effective replies to this kind of claim. And all our great anti-racist intellectuals are doing is writing more of the same insulated stuff that doesn’t even acknowlege some of the points that our white dissident enemies are pulling on us and OTHER WHITE PEOPLE(AND THEY ARE STARTING TO LISTEN AND LEARN FROM THEM).

    Basically, we need effective repliers to these fucking white dissidents and their mantra bullshit.

    I have found a few things on Youtube to help us that actually have the intellectual balls to deal directly with this mantra stuff. This is the best one that I have found so far:

    He basically destroys much of the rhetorical appeal of this mantra message that the white dissidents have deployed against us. I think every single anti-racist past, present, and future should be forced to watch this video repeatedly to get the essence of how to effectively reply to the mantra dissidents.

    Closing message to the anti-racist intellectuals:



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