It’s been a couple years since I graduated from Keene State College, but I’m still bothered by the social justice classes that I was forced to attend. Some students are required by their major to take one such course, but I had to take two because I was a double major, and I took them both during the same semester (“Cinema and Diversity” for film production and “Social Contexts of Education” for education).
My best way of explaining social justice is to describe the first day of Social Contexts class. My teacher walked into the classroom and the first thing she did was write four words onto the chalkboard: “oppressor race” and “oppressed races.” She pointed to the words “oppressor race” and said, “the white race is the oppressor race.” Then she pointed to the words “oppressed races” and said, “the non white races are the oppressed races.” After the semester was over, I realized that she’d managed to sum up her entire message in those two sentences. The whole purpose of these classes, as they pertain to race, is to convince students that this message is true. To that end, anything that supports the social justice narrative is included in the class materials; anything that would undermine the narrative is omitted. We were taught about bad things that white people have done to non white people, but nothing bad that anyone else has ever done. We were shown videos and essays by minorities that feel oppressed, but none that don’t, or that feel only marginally so. Much of the material was disturbing and before the semester was over, both a teacher and a student had confessed to me that the material makes them feel guilty for being white.
These classes depict non white people as if they have only one single opinion, perspective, and set of experiences. Racial complaints by them are presented as infallible. White students are told that since they don’t know what it’s like to be non white, they aren’t allowed to disagree with what they’re being taught. Implicit in this is the notion that all non whites agree with the teachers, and that the teachers speak for all non whites.
I have many different problems with social justice, ethical, philosophical, and personal, but the purpose of this letter isn’t to talk about that so much as it is to express my disappointment in Keene State College for mandating classes of such naked ideological indoctrination. My teachers have good intentions. Like ideologues of all stripes, they think they’re making the world a better place by teaching everyone to believe what they believe. However, as a public, tax payer funded institution, Keene State has an obligation to maintain some modicum of fairness and neutrality, and to prevent anyone from hijacking the educational system for their own agenda. In this I feel that Keene State College has failed.
Sasha Fukuda can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org