Progressive University of Tennessee-Knoxville Professors Lead Discussion on Privilege and Oppression

Two progressive University of Tennessee-Knoxville professors who endorse critical race theory led a discussion on campus Tuesday about privilege and oppression.

The Hodges Library hosted the discussion “to begin dialogue on the topic of racial inequality and other aspects of oppression,” according to The Daily Beacon, the student newspaper.

Band-aids matching a person’s skin tone was one example of privilege mentioned at the event, though the newspaper did not say who mentioned it.

The event, part of a “Lunch and Learn” series, was open to students and others on campus.

“I like to remind folks that we’re living in the legacy of 344 years of overt systemic racism in America,” said Michelle Christian, an assistant professor of sociology, according to The Daily Beacon. “We were systemically racist a lot longer than we supposedly did away with these policies.”

Jioni Lewis, an assistant professor of psychology, led the event with Christian. She defined privilege as “unearned access to resources or social power only readily available to some people as a result of their advantaged status or advantaged social group membership.” She defined oppression as “a system that maintains advantage and disadvantage based on social group memberships and operates intentionally, and unintentionally, on different levels such as individual, institution, structural and cultural levels.”

Christian and Lewis said people who are told they are privileged tend to feel attacked, but need to realize statements about privilege are directed more at a flawed system than individual people.

Those who attended the event were given sheets to tally the amount of privilege or oppression in their lives. Factors adding to privilege included college-educated parents and quality of living environment. Factors showing oppression included growing up in a single-parent household and being concerned when interacting with police.

According to the university website, Christian has done research “focused on connecting structural race and racial ideology theory to understanding how racial inequality occurs in the global economy.” Christian has also helped design the curriculum for the sociology department’s new concentration in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. In her research, Lewis has explored race and racism, microaggressions, and racial and gender identity.

The two professors in 2013 co-founded the Critical Race Collective research group. The university website says that members follow the five central tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT), which include the following:

Centrality of Race and Racism in Society:  CRT asserts that racism is a central component of American life.
Challenge to Dominant Ideology:  CRT challenges the claims of neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness, and meritocracy in society.
Centrality of Experiential Knowledge:  CRT asserts that the experiential knowledge of people of color is appropriate, legitimate, and an integral part to analyzing and understanding racial inequality.
Interdisciplinary Perspective:  CRT challenges ahistoricism and the unidisciplinary focuses of most analyses and insists that race and racism be placed in both a contemporary and historical context using interdisciplinary methods.
Commitment to Social Justice:  CRT is a framework that is committed to a social justice agenda to eliminate all forms of subordination of people.

The Critical Race Collective engages in scholarship in geography, psychology, sociology, education, philosophy and other areas.

Opponents of critical race theory say it is rooted in Marxism and poses threats to speech and property rights.



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7 Thoughts to “Progressive University of Tennessee-Knoxville Professors Lead Discussion on Privilege and Oppression”

  1. Wolf Woman

    Unadulterated cultural marxism at the sociology dept., UT-Knoxville will keep stoking the divisions of our country and have bad results for Tennessee youth who are not being educated but indoctrinated.

    Shame, shame on these women and their supporters for teaching the opposite of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s position – It’s not the color of the skin that matters but the content of the person’s character. Obviously neither the white woman or the black woman who founded the Critical Race Collective has a smidgen of the character of MLK.

  2. Sim

    Race, Culture, Economics status, Religion, are all DNA traits of Human beings that causes division among people,

    Black hates white, Islam hates Christian culture, Rich hates the Poor, Muslim hates Christians.

    “Discrimination” comes in many different forms, it’s not as “Black and White” as many believe.

    And it can’t be eliminated from people, discrimination in one or more forms will remain in people.

  3. “Equal people can never be free for the simple reason that free people will never remain equal” – Robert Welch – 1969, Founder of the John Birch Society.

  4. Bruce

    Those who discuss racism are usually the racist. Companies (except the NFL and NBA for some reason) are oppressed by having to hire people that are under qualified because of unfair legislation. White people are the oppressed people in having to deal with a criminal culture in the black community and a culture of illegal activity in the Mexican culture. We have to pay more then once for these activities. But, wine, cry and complain until all these things are now socially acceptable.,

    1. 83ragtop50

      Bruce, you make a good point about the government meddling in the hiring process. White males are about the only demographic of potential employees that are not considered a “protected class”. I had to tread carefully in the hiring process and even more carefully in the case of terminations.

  5. 83ragtop50

    Give me a break!