Professors at a Catholic University Call 'White Privilege' America's 'Original Sin'

Posted: Jul 30, 2020 4:30 PM
Professors at a Catholic University Call 'White Privilege' America's 'Original Sin'

Source: (AP Photo/Mike Melia)

Several Sacred Heart University professors took part in a discussion that labels white privilege America's "original sin." 

At a panel titled "Wrestling with the legacy of America's Original Sin" that took place in late June as a part of the Heart Challenges Hate series, moderator, Associate Dean Michelle Loris divulged how white privilege is the cause behind most of the racism in America, both in the past and present. 

"We want to discuss how white privilege is systemic and is made up of all of those institutional advantages that white people enjoy over people of color, solely because white people are white," said Loris at the start of the panel. "We want to discuss how white privilege is embedded in all our institutions of power and how it is integrated in the unconscious assumptions and perceptions, with which white people can operate and interact in the world and black people can not."

Other professors at the university from many different departments proceeded to lecture on the impact of white privilege. 

History Professor Jennifer McLaughlin claimed that slavery is the most "most obvious instance of white privilege in America." She also said that the Declaration of Independence did not mean equality for all. 

"Thomas Jefferson was not intending that 'all men being created equal' applied to all men or all women and certainly not to African Americans," McLaughlin said. 

Catholic studies professor June-Anne Greenly called white privilege a "freely wielded exercise of a disordered soul." 

"We have to address the exterior, the behaviors that are the result of that sinful state," said Greenly. "But I think we need to ask people, in terms of how we understand sin, at least the Catholic tradition, to do a really tight inventory."

Crystal Hayes, a clinical assistant professor, said black people need to "navigate and negotiate" white privilege and white supremacy. 

She then shared a story about how her black daughter was unfairly penalized for speaking out in class while her white friend was not. 

Other topics discussed were how to combat racism and white privilege in the classroom, as well as personal anecdotes on the matter. 

The women of the panel all agreed it will be "hard work" fighting white privilege and that they need to "push through."

"That pushing through, being conscious and then pushing through, that's the hard part, that's the challenging part" concluded Loris.