It’s hard to imagine how anyone would get the wrong impression about a college course titled “The Problem of Whiteness.” But just in case, the University of Wisconsin-Madison released a statement Monday to reassure the public that African Cultural Studies was not intended to be offensive.
“The course title,” the statement explains, “refers to the challenge of understanding white identity and non-white identity across the globe.” Hmm, interesting. I guess “The Challenge of Understanding White Identity and Non-White Identity Across the Globe” wasn’t pithy enough. And I suppose calling the course “The Problem of Being Black” might be taken as an offense.
Wherein lies the problem. Painting an entire race with a broad brush — and calling that race “problematic,” moreover — is offensive. It calls to mind Hitler’s “Final Solution.”
The statement goes on to clarify that “the course is a challenge and response to racism of all kinds,” but the titles of the texts to be read suggest it is a response to only one kind.