Penn State professor pulls ‘average white guys’ from lecture theater to demonstrate privilege


A sociology professor at Penn State university has raised eyebrows after he called on an ‘an average white guy’ student during a discussion about white privilege.

Dr Sam Richards, known for his provocative and popular lectures, had a packed auditorium for his June 30 class, as part of a course described as ‘an introductory class on race and culture’.

Richards marched into the crowd and chose at random a white student in a baseball cap and hoodie, who gave his name as Russell. 

‘I just take the average white guy in class, whoever it is, it doesn’t really matter,’ Richards said. 

‘Look at Russell, right here. 

Dr Sam Richards gave a lecture on race at Penn State university on June 30. He pulled a random student from class, Russell (pictured), as an example of white privilege

Richards told the class that Russell would be more likely to get a job than a fellow black student with exactly the same qualifications and experience

Richards told the class that Russell would be more likely to get a job than a fellow black student with exactly the same qualifications and experience

‘It doesn’t matter what he does. If I match him up with a black guy in class, or a brown guy, even, who’s just like him, has the same GPA, looks like him, walks like him, talks like him, acts in a similar way, has been involved in the same groups on campus, takes the same leadership positions, whatever it is … and we send them into the same jobs … Russell has a benefit of having white skin.’ 

In another clip posted online, Richards ushered one white student and one black student to the front of the class and asked about privilege. 

‘Bro, how does it feel knowing that [when] push comes to shove your skin’s kind of nice?’ Richards asked the white student.

‘I don’t know, it makes me feel sad,’ the student answered. 

Richards spoke to the packed auditorium at Penn State for an hour on race and white privilege

Richards spoke to the packed auditorium at Penn State for an hour on race and white privilege

A white student (left) was asked by Richards how he felt about the color of his skin, and replied that he was sad for what it represented

A white student (left) was asked by Richards how he felt about the color of his skin, and replied that he was sad for what it represented

CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?  

The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.

The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.

The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.

The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.

Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.

Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.

Critics on social media accused the professor of making students feel guilty for the color of their skin.

Conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan tweeted: ‘The key to bigotry is taking a generalization and applying it to a random unique individual. Sue this professor.’

One Twitter user asked: ‘When is Dr Sam Richards going to resign his position to a black professor due to his white privilege?’

Another noted: ‘The saddest part is that the student answers that his skin color makes him sad.’

One woman said the United States was regressing.

‘That is the whole idea behind all this CRT. Dividing all and looking only at the color of our skin. (we are going backwards)’

‘How idiotic!!!’ said another. 

‘We have no say in the color of our skin! We have a say on what we do and this teacher is doing damage on the future of our childrens by focusing on skin color.’

Another accused Richards of racism.

‘This is racism. Pure and simple. To call out someone purely based on the color of their skin. Disgusting! This dude is a hater and he teaches how to hate white people. There is no other meaning to this.’

Penn State is yet to comment on the controversy.  

The university offers courses looking at the theory, such as ‘Race 101 Critical Dialogues: Introduction to Critical Race Theory’.

Republican politicians in Pennsylvania have brought forward bills attempting to ban CRT in public schools.

CRT has been taught at law schools since the 1970s, but now is a hot topic among Republicans, who argue that it teaches children and young people to discriminate against each other, and resent the history of the United States. 

Some states, such as Idaho and Oklahoma, now restrict the use of CRT in public colleges and universities. 

Other states, including Georgia and Utah, are actively considering similar legislation or administrative action. 

Eight states have banned the critical race theory and several others are considering passing similar resolutions

Eight states have banned the critical race theory and several others are considering passing similar resolutions



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