Student privilege flyers create awareness, discussion

“Dear White Student,” read the flyers.

Their source: the student organization Students Allied Against Privilege and Supremacy.

SAAPS’ stated mission is “to attempt to dismantle the systems of privilege and supremacy both internally within all of us and externally on individual (relationships), institutional and systemic levels.”

According to SAAPS members, white people are inherently privileged based on the fact that the social constructed ethnic group they belonged to is the overwhelming majority

This racism expresses itself in a plethora of ways, ranging from the color of Band-Aids (beige, to match Caucasian skin) to the races most commonly represented on TV (Caucasian, as well).

These flyers’ statements are not just the result of living in a nation that, as of 2011, was nearly 80 percent Caucasian, but are inherently racist. This was the “white privilege” the flyers referred to.

In an effort to combat racism at Guilford College, SAAPS organized a forum on Nov. 29 in order to encourage open discussion of issues relating to race and white privilege.

Latino Community Program Coordinator Jorge Zeballos opened the meeting by telling the crowd about the motivation behind the flyers.

“It was intentionally provocative. We knew it was going to generate a lot of reactions, some of them maybe not positive,” said Zeballos. “If you had a negative reaction, don’t think that this isn’t the place to bring it.”

The reality of the meeting was somewhat different.

While many participants in the discussion recounted negative reactions to the flyers by their peers, few were personally brought to the forum.

“Those people aren’t here today, so how do we facilitate bringing those negative reactions to the discussion?” said first-year Gabriel Pollak.
The discussion then moved onto topics like racism on Guilford’s campus, which sophomore and SAAPS member Chelsea Yarborough described as marked by “instances of rampant and unchecked racism.”

Much of the discussion revolved around a more well-intentioned form of racism: white guilt.

“I feel like a lot of black people have to deal with a lot of white guilt,” said Franklin. “If I feel like I’m dealing with white guilt, I just shut down, because I feel like I have no sympathy.”

Outside the debate, the aforementioned negative reactions proved to be more abundant than the range of opinions presented at the SAAPS meeting would have indicated.

“The way some of them were written was confrontational,” said first-year Harrison Houlihan. “I don’t think that’s a message to win people over and have people really think. It’s like, ‘Why is this everywhere?’”

SAAPS member Chelsea Yarborough had a different take.
“I talked to a friend of mine who said, ‘Even if people are outwardly rejecting what you’re saying, they’re still listening to you,’” said Yarborough. “It may not click immediately, but somewhere down the line, they’ll get it.”