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U of Chicago Postpones (not Cancels) Course on "Problem of Whiteness" For Security Concerns

The University of Chicago is still offering a course called The Problem of Whiteness, which attracted negative attention online, but it will do so a term later than originally planned—in the spring instead of the upcoming winter quarter.

It’s unclear just what prompted the course delay. The instructor, Rebecca Journey, a teaching fellow in anthropology, did not respond to a request for comment.

In a public statement affirming its commitment to academic freedom, the university said Journey asked to push back the class.


Chicago works to “foster an inclusive climate on campus, so all may participate fully in the distinctive open and questioning environment that has always defined the university,” the statement also says.

This is not the first time a whiteness course has caused a stir. In Arizona in 2017, for instance, Republican state legislators criticized an Arizona State University course on whiteness and race theory and later proposed legislation against “divisive” courses or events at public colleges and universities. Another whiteness studies course at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2015 was publicly attacked as promoting white guilt.


A description of the University of Chicago course in question says, in part, that “Whiteness has long functioned as an ‘unmarked’ racial category, saturating a default surround against which non-white or ‘not quite’ others appear as aberrant. This saturation has had wide-ranging effects, coloring everything from the consolidation of wealth, power and property to the distribution of environmental health hazards. Yet in recent years whiteness has resurfaced as a conspicuous problem within liberal political discourse. This seminar examines the problem of whiteness through an anthropological lens, drawing from classic works and contemporary works of critical race theory.”

The course became a target for critics earlier this month after Daniel Schmidt, a sophomore on campus with 30,000 Twitter followers, tweeted about it as an example of “anti-white hate.”

Read entire article at Inside Higher Ed