The Racquet

Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

retrieved+from+bc.edu
Back to Article
Back to Article

Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

retrieved from bc.edu

retrieved from bc.edu

retrieved from bc.edu

retrieved from bc.edu

Karley Betzler, General Assignment Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






On the evening of Feb. 22 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Dr. Janet E. Helms of Boston College began her talk by stating that in this country we all think of race wrong. Helms is the author of four books, dozens of empirical and theoretical articles, and has accumulated numerous award for her work. “We don’t have a language for it,” Helms said. “Race is defined by law and custom in our country.” 

Helms launched into discussing white heterosexual male privilege, which she abbreviated to WHMP and pronounced like the word ‘wimp’. “All of the institutions are designed to protect white, straight males,” explained Helms. While she notes that there are white men who will argue that they’ve struggled with various issues such as poverty or homelessness,  Helms asserts that not all WHMP’s are Alpha WHMP’s.  

The Alpha WHMP’s are the ones who have much of the power in the United States. Helms provided an example about recent events. “The politicians who will not act in gun control are the ones being funded by Alpha WHMP’s”. To be a WHMP, Helms stated that you don’t necessarily need to be ethnically white, rather “…if people look at you and think you’re white, you’re probably white.” 

“All “-isms” protect WHMP’s.” The “-isms”, such as racism, “are symptoms of white, male privilege. They keep the rest of us from uniting.” Helms said, “If you want to have a conversation about racism, you have to know the types.” The types of racism Helms identified were institutional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.  

Helms also introduced the idea of schemas. Schemas are the “…eyeglasses we use to view race.” The first schema presented was Contact, otherwise known as the “Happy Racist”. These people are satisfied with the racial status quo, oblivious to the way they benefit from racism, and, “minimizes or is unaware of racial differences in the ways that people are treated.”  

The next schema is known as Disintegration, or “Rescue Me” as Helms put it. This schema is accompanied by feeling, “anxious and guilt-ridden when race is a concern.” and awareness, “that one can be kicked out of the white group for improper race-related behavior.”  

Reintegration, “Ordinary Racism”, is the following schema. It consists of intolerance towards people of color, “and white liberals”, “idealization of the white group”, and “denies the existence of racism in any form”. These people also use their idea of what it means to be, “White to define the standard of what is good, moral, and socially desirable.”  

Pseudo-Independence is the following schema. “White Liberals” is another name for this schema. These people can, “articulate principles of racial fairness, but not live by them”, depends on people of color to reveal is they’re racist or not, and assumes people of color are experts on racism. To this latter aspect, Helms commented, “The power for deciding who is or isn’t racist should not be in the victim’s hands.”  

The next two schemas are, as Helms put it, “beating up racism.” Immersion Emersion is known as the “Caped Crusader”. These people attempt to re-educate other white people, “To help them understand racism at a personal level, too.” Individuals in this schema typically ostracized and comments, such as, “There they go again”, are used to put them down. Autonomy is the final schema, which is also known as the “Humanist”. They, “actively deconstruct racism” and they, “understand that internalizing a counter-racist identity is an ongoing process.” 

These people also have to ask, as Helms said, “How do I think of myself as a racial being?”Helms noted that many white people have shame for being white because it’s associated with Nazis and other racist groups. However, Helms said, “There are other ways to be white.” Helms said that if you allow those groups to define what it means to be white, you give them power. “What you give power, defines who you are.” Helms added.   

UWL sophomore Jessica Wener reacted to the presentation. “It was very cool. It was like explaining sociology in psychology terms.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About the Writer
Karley Betzler, Editor-in-Chief


Year at UWL: Junior
Hometown: Anoka, Minnesota
Major: Communication Studies with an emphasis in Media Studies
Minors: Criminal Justice and...

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Student-Athlete of the Week: Caitlyn Hughes and Seth Holden

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Student Senate discusses counseling and testing center renovations

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Existence is Resistance: Queer and Disabled people negotiating socially contradicting identities

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Photo Series: What are UWL students bringing on Spring Break?

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Art Show depicts Undergraduate Research

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    #ElectHer at UWL

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Student senate discusses replacing the eagle alert system with new software in the coming semesters

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Counseling and testing center looks to hire diversity and inclusivity liaison

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    UWL invited Swansan AlSaraf to present in the Creative Imperatives Festival

  • Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege

    News

    Waiting for help from the counseling and testing center

Navigate Right
The student news site of University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Award Winning Professor Discusses Race and Privilege