The University of South Carolina held a “White Student Accountability Group” meeting last month for white students at the College of Social Work to discuss their “contribution” to racism.
An internal email obtained by Turning Point USA advertised an hour-long virtual meeting for social work students on April 26 and said spots were still open for people to sign up.
According to a screenshot of the event description, the purpose of the meeting was for social work students to “recognize both their contribution to and responsibility to dismantle racism in our practice and everyday lives.”
Students were to be encouraged “to use their voice, power, and privilege to enact change in their classrooms, community, and practice.” The discussion would “support students in developing skills to host similar groups among peers or colleagues to expand the community dedicated to racial equity and justice.”
The push for white students to acknowledge their “privilege” and “contribution” to racism is aligned with principles of critical race theory, which teaches that white people have historical and contemporary advantages in society and that American national values are derivative of white culture and perpetuate the unequal distribution of society’s benefits based on skin color.
CRT scholars defend the theory as a way of thinking about American history through the lens of racism, which they say can help identify social injustices many Americans are blind to. Opponents of CRT have criticized it for promoting the idea that white people living today are inherently complicit in racism because they are white, an assertion they say is racist.
“It’s just very sad and disappointing that the university would organize an event that promotes legitimately racist ideas,” said Dylan B., the president of the University of South Carolina’s TPUSA chapter.
White accountability groups are not unique to the University of South Carolina. They gained popularity on college campuses during the racial unrest of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and other high-profile police killings of black people.
Loyola University Maryland recently held two white accountability group meetings on March 4 and April 8 this year, with a third scheduled for May 13.
“Many resources have been offered as we all work to dismantle oppression in our own lives and institutions; we would like to offer white and white-passing folks the opportunity to put those resources into action by engaging in deep, meaningful conversations and exercises on anti-racism,” a description on the university’s Events and Activities page reads.
The University of North Texas holds a white accountability group virtual meeting on the second Thursday of every month at 11:30 a.m., where participants learn to combat “racial injustice, inequity, and inequality in UNT’s programming, policies, processes, people, and practices.” These voluntary meetings generate “accountability measures” for white employees to “promote allyship, accompliceship, and anti-racism among white employees for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) at UNT.”