A long time ago a teacher told me that Republicans are all about equality of opportunity while Democrats are all about equality of outcomes. A cliché? Yes. Oversimplification? Yes. I actually think that equality of opportunity is equally important to both our country’s major political parties. Which is why the dust-up over the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) “encouragement” of the use of white-privilege wristbands as part of a lesson on power and privilege in the United States is so ridiculous.
First and most important, DPI, never advocated such a thing. They say they never “used, requested, or encouraged anyone…to use the wristband activity.”
Second, who cares if they did? The white privilege wristband activity appears to me to be nothing more than a class activity that teaches students that we have not yet reached a place where we have equality of opportunity in this country. That’s not my fault, that’s not your fault, and that’s not the fault of any student who wore a wristband (assuming this activity actually occurred anywhere). Equality of opportunity is a goal that has not been reached because of our nation’s difficult racial history, the problem of entrenched poverty, an imperfect public education system, and million other reasons including the fact that true equality of opportunity is an almost utopian goal that is just plain difficult to create. If this activity is one way to teach this, so be it.
Third, why are people associated with conservatives making an issue of this? It’s no secret the Republican Party struggled to gain minority support in the 2012 election; making a racial issue over a public school lesson on power and privilege is strategically misguided. Yet, as I saw this morning, none other than Bill O’Reilly is running with the story tonight.
Excuse the rant, but focus on issues like this is one reason Conservatives get caricatured as out-of-touch.