University of Michigan teaches ‘uncomfortable’ white employees how to engage in social justice

Students enter the University of Michigan Union on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

(Hunter Dijk/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

The University of Michigan was the last public university to host a special workshop for white workers who feel “uncomfortable” confronting race relations on the campus, because of the color of their skin.

During a two-day professional development conference earlier this month, UM-employees were asked to attend a session with the title “Conversations on Whiteness,” the College Fix reported.

“Do you feel uncomfortable as a white person dealing with students or colleagues about social justice?” They were asked to. “Do you want to help students and staff as they work through the difficulties of campus climate issues related to race, but you do not know how?”


The website of the university says that the purpose was to help the participants in the “unpacking whiteness” to assist students and employees with problems related to the identity and social justice.”

The University of Michigan Union is seen on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

(Hunter Dijk/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

During the university and the student life Professional Development Conference the participants used the Privileged Identity Exploration Model (PIE) “to recognize the difficulties they experience when talking about social justice issues related to their white identity, explore this discomfort, and thinking of ways to work through.”

The CAKE model “identifies eight defense modes associated with behaviors individuals display when they are in difficult dialogues about social justice,” wrote Sherry Watt, a University of Iowa professor who developed the model as a way to determine how much privilege men have.

Some of the defense modes are: denial, deflection, rationalization, and false envy.

According to the CAKE model, “privileged identities include not only racial (white), but also sexual (heterosexual), gender (male), and ability (able-bodied) identity.”

Another session was with the title “I don’t Feel Safe to Talk About the Match”, which is aimed at giving staff “tools to create a safer environment to promote dialogue on racial issues.”

“It was an internal training course for U-M student life staff,” a spokesman of the University of Michigan told Fox News when asked to comment.


Protesters listening to speakers during a rally against Richard Spencer of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017.

(Hunter Dijk/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

UM President Mark Schlissel announced last month that the school in open discussion with the white supremacist Richard Spencer on his request to speak on campus, but no date has been set.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

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