Wisconsin’s VISTA Program Wants Volunteers to Overcome Their White ‘Privilege’ Bias

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The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) wants its white VISTA volunteers who work with low-income, racially diverse public schools to examine the “privilege” their Caucasian race confers on them.

DPI devotes an entire Web page to “Power and Privilege,” including links to racial justice workshops and online tests where VISTA volunteers can “learn about your personal bias.”

One “diversity” document linked to DPI’s Web site suggests that white people “wear a white wristband as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.”

The document — written by a diversity resource center in New Jersey — also suggests that white people ask themselves questions, such as: “How do I ignore privilege? What am I doing today to undo my privilege? How do I fool myself into thinking I am powerless?”

Other suggestions for white people include:

— Set aside sections of the day to critically examine how privilege is working.
— Put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege.
— Make a daily list of the ways privilege played out, and steps taken or not taken to address privilege.
— Find a person of color who is willing to hold you accountable for addressing privilege.

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