I haven't really been following the story behind the University of Missouri protests. However, when the first demand posited to the university president is that the he acknowledge his own white privilege, then whatever the reason for the original concern, no matter how well it may have been founded, has gone off the rails.
We demand that the University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a handwritten apology to the Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white male privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exist, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demands. We want Tim Wolfe to admit to his gross negligence, allowing his driver to hit one of the demonstrators, consenting to the physical violence of bystanders, and lastly refusing to intervene when Columbia Police Department used excessive force with demonstrators.
Really? Really? Shouldn't the gross negligence piece far exceed the concern about white privilege of the president? Apparently not - it comes after the white privilege in the first of many demands. By the way, why does each demand have 12 sub-demands in it?
Having little background so far, I will not defend the president of the university. Perhaps every other demand is legitimate, I don't know. But the white privilege statement is simply ridiculous.
Everyone living in America is privileged not to be living in Bangladesh, or Syria. Everyone living in America is privileged to be living in a country with so much opportunity - if not at the University of Missouri the somewhere else. You don't like the university, leave. If enough people do, it will simply go out of business. Everyone in America is privileged to have so much freedom that simply does not exist elsewhere to the same degree. You want to renounce that privilege and feel shame for being American too? Leave. I for one, along with literally millions of other people of every color, would be happy to take your place as a citizen in America. Unfortunately we can't.
The inclusion of that among all of the other demands diminishes all the rest of them. Racial issues should be dealt with on the face of the specific issues. Saying that every white person has an inherited advantage is ridiculous. It hasn't helped me one bit. And there are white people far poorer and less well off than I am.
Trying to make someone feel guilty for being born white does not advance racial harmony one iota. It does not engender empathy at all from anyone other than those who already agree with you. It puts someone on the defensive and immediately creates an adversarial interaction. You are in a sense restricting change by taking that approach. How is that not self-evident?