For Christ and His White Kingdom – An open letter to the Wheaton College Community on White Supremacy

In February 2012, Wheaton College was jolted by a racial incident infamously known as: #chapeltweets. Participants in the Rhythm & Praise chapel service at this small evangelical liberal arts college (with the motto: “For Christ and His Kingdom”) were publicly mocked and insulted on the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.  The chapel service, which presented forms of music, dancing, and painting largely from the African American tradition, was derided as an unworthy expression of worship. Tweets and memes ranged from being naïve and racially insensitive to malicious and borderline overtly racist. Examples include (more at the end of the post):

chapeltweetblackkids

black father meme chapel breakdancing meme chapeltweetsblackface chapeltweetsentertainment chapeltweetblackjoker terrorist meme

In the aftermath of these and other tweets, many students responded by downplaying the importance of race, claiming that the tweets were not offensive and that students of color who were upset were being overly sensitive. While the initial furor of the Chapel Tweets incident has died down, students of color continue to be underrepresented at Wheaton College. Moreover, the elephant in the room has not been addressed—that is, Wheaton College and other white evangelical institutions in the U.S. continue to operate to varying degrees under the framework of white supremacy.

Yes, white supremacy is the ethos of my alma mater, but here is what I am not saying: I do not believe that the people running the school or even most of the student body are white supremacists, if by the term, you mean they embody racial hatred and believe that the white race is superior to others. No, it is much more subtle (and systemic) than that—but this is the ethos of Wheaton, nonetheless.

I graduated from Wheaton in May 2013 and could very easily rid myself of anything concerning it, but two main things have urged me to write about my experience with white supremacy at Wheaton College. First, white supremacy is evil and when left unchecked has spawned the suffering of countless innocent people all over the globe. Second, I actually do care about the future of Wheaton, because I believe there are good people there who could transform it into an institution that cultivates students and leaders for improving our world.

Today, the inertia of white supremacy continues to drive racial inequalities in the U.S.—Wheaton College is no exception to this phenomena. I want to briefly outline some racial inequalities in the U.S. then talk about how racial inequalities at Wheaton are embedded in this system of white supremacy as well. When referring to Wheaton College, I am working primarily with an understanding of white supremacy as a system. See Tim Wise’s definition below:

As a system, racism is an institutional arrangement, maintained by policies, practices and procedures — both formal and informal — in which some persons typically have more or less opportunity than others, and in which such persons receive better or worse treatment than others, because of their respective racial identities. Additionally, institutional racism involves denying persons opportunities, rewards, or various benefits on the basis of race [whether intentionally or unintentionally], to which those individuals are otherwise entitled. In short, racism is a system of inequality, based on race.

White supremacy is the operationalized form of racism in the United States and throughout the Western world. Racism is like the generic product name, while white supremacy is the leading brand, with far and away the greatest market share.

WHITE SUPREMACY IN THE U.S.

This blog is insufficient to provide an adequate lesson in the history and development of white supremacy, such as: European conquest and colonization, Native American genocide, Black-African slavery, the Jim Crow Era, programmatic racial segregation, New Jim Crow, etc. Still, let’s examine, briefly, some current racial inequalities that people could explain by saying that either, “people of all races have equal opportunities, thus disparities are a result of flaws in certain groups’ cultures” or current disparities are a function of white supremacy.

According to a 2011 report by the Pew Research Center, wealth gaps between white, Hispanic, and black households have risen to record highs in the United States.

median net worth by race

In 2009, the median net worth (MNW)[1] of white households was “20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households” (Kochhar, Fry, and Taylor 2011:1). The U.S. poverty rate for African-Americans and Hispanics is 25.8% and 23.2%, respectively; whereas poverty rate for whites is 11.6% (Macartney, Bishaw, and Fontenot 2013).

A study of all 3,141 counties in the United States, published by the University of California Press, provided “a place-based portrait of spatial inequality and concentrated poverty over the past two decades” (Lichter, Parisi, and Taquino 2012:370). The study finds there are disproportionately high levels of poverty concentration among black and Latina/o populations compared to non-Hispanic whites. Based on the latest data from 2009, 36.3% of the total black population lives in high-poverty places, while 49.2% of poor blacks are concentrated in high-poverty places.[2] For all Hispanics, 23.9% live in high-poverty places, while 33.3% of poor Hispanics live in these communities as well. In sharp contrast, only 11.1% of non-Hispanic whites live in poor communities (Lichter et al. 2012). Additionally, research indicates that over 60% of black and Hispanic students attend public schools where the majority of students are below the poverty line; compared to only “18 percent of white students” who attend high-poverty schools (Logan, Minca, and Adar 2012:288).

I hope it is obvious that I do not believe that these stark racial disparities are a result of morally devoid cultures in black and brown communities. Social scientists have presented ample evidence for the origins of racial segregation in past discriminatory housing practices such as “redlining,” restrictive covenants, and steering (Massey and Denton 1993; Sernau 2006). Racial residential segregation of people of color is one of the most damning tools of white supremacy, which perpetuates race disparities in areas of wealth, incarceration rates, employment discrimination, and more. Another leading cause of racial disparities in the U.S. is related to the underrepresentation of students of color in higher education. It is evident that a degree in higher education can be a ticket out of poverty.

RACIAL INEQUALITIES AT MY ALMA MATER

When we examine the racial demographics of Wheaton College, through data from the US Census Bureau and Wheaton College’s Office of Institutional Research (only accessible while on-campus through Wheaton’s intranet), we see that Wheaton falls unacceptably below average in providing equal access to education for black and Latina/o students. Data for 2010, indicates that the enrollment percentage at Wheaton College was a paltry 2.90% for black or African-Americans and 3.90% for Hispanic or Latina/o students. In comparison, enrollment at peer institutions during the same time period was 9.20% for black or African-Americans and 6.20% for Hispanic or Latina/o students. Enrollment for all 4-year, private nonprofit colleges/universities in the U.S., during the same time, was 12.92% for black or African-Americans and 8.06% for Hispanic or Latina/o students.

In other words minority enrollment averages at peer institutions are double what they are at Wheaton; minority enrollment averages in all 4-year, private nonprofit colleges/universities are three times greater than they are at Wheaton. Moreover, in 1976, the total minority undergraduate population in the U.S. was 16.6%. By 2004, the total minority undergraduate population in the U.S. had nearly doubled to 32.5%, while Wheaton College, in 2012, had remained thirty years behind the national trends at a disgustingly low 17.5% total minority undergraduate population—or as the Wheaton website describes it “just shy of 20% of the campus.”

Source: http://intra.wheaton.edu/academic/ITIR/pdf/Ethnicity/Student_Ethnicity_2010.pdf Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2011, Enrollment component. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/tables/table-psi-1.asp

Source: http://intra.wheaton.edu/academic/ITIR/pdf/Ethnicity/Student_Ethnicity_2010.pdf
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2011, Enrollment component. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/tables/table-psi-1.asp

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 (NCES 2006-030), table 205, data from the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), "Fall Enrollment in Colleges and Universities" surveys, 1976 and 1980, and 1990 through 2004 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), "Fall Enrollment" survey, 1990, and Spring 2001 through Spring 2005. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/minoritytrends/tables/table_a23_1.asp Source 2: http://intra.wheaton.edu/academic/ITIR/pdf/Ethnicity/Student_Ethnicity_2010.pdf

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 (NCES 2006-030), table 205, data from the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), “Fall Enrollment in Colleges and Universities” surveys, 1976 and 1980, and 1990 through 2004 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Fall Enrollment” survey, 1990, and Spring 2001 through Spring 2005. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/minoritytrends/tables/table_a23_1.asp
Source 2: http://intra.wheaton.edu/academic/ITIR/pdf/Ethnicity/Student_Ethnicity_2010.pdf

So what is Wheaton’s excuse for denying equal access to higher education for black and Latina/o students, thereby participating in the larger framework of white supremacy? Certainly, it is not the lack of black and Latina/o students in higher education as evinced by the significantly higher averages at other schools. (Cue  attempts to justify low enrollment rates for students of color at Wheaton by attributing it to “personal choice” or something like that. Also, this is where many people will say, in so many words, “Yeah, but Wheaton isn’t all that bad when you compare it to other similar colleges that are doing a horrible job at enrolling students of color!”)

WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CHAPELTWEETS?

Wheaton College does not have to have an active policy of denying people of color access to their institution in order to perpetuate white supremacy, but the fact remains that African-American and Latina/o students are egregiously underrepresented at Wheaton. Of course, this reality is complex, but based on my three years as a student and two years as the Executive Vice President of Community Diversity on Student Government, I want to offer what I think contributes to Wheaton’s complicity in white supremacy.

After the #chapeltweets incident, a few dozen students rallied together to respond to the insensitivity and racism of their fellow students. We met through the late hours of the night trying to figure out how to respond. #Chapeltweets was unique, because it was so public and galvanized our emotions and desire for change. Students of color (and a few white students) had had enough with racial insensitivity, ignorant jokes, and lack of institutional support for race-related equity on campus. So, we drafted a petition called, The Diversity Initiatives: A petition for institutional change. In it, we described the reality of white supremacy at Wheaton College as such:

The pain, frustration, and anger of many students at Wheaton College stems from a much deeper place than #chapeltweets. Many unique challenges for students of minority cultures, races, or ethnicities exist. These unique challenges do not affect ALL [students of color] or ONLY [students of color], but those students who do not fit into the dominant American, white, middle to upper- middle class, culture. While overt racism is not rampant, issues of racial prejudice, cultural supremacy, ethnocentrism, and insensitivity afflict these students in profound ways. For many, it is not an acute, shooting pain that can be described in one incident. Rather, it is the dull, subtle, and constant reminder that students of minority cultures are merely invited guests in someone else’s home. Furthermore, the College has unintentionally affirmed and reinforced the elevated status of dominant white culture among our community, as a result of inadequate intervention in institutional practices that affect the campus climate.

The emphasis on quantity over quality, regarding the approach to increasing diversity, has neglected the experiences of minority culture students once they arrive on campus.

Whether it is the lack of professors and staff members with whom we can identify culturally (88.3% all-white faculty and 87.7% all-white staff), the lack of College Union events that are inclusive of people of color (91% of all artists/bands hosted by College Union between 2000 and 2012 were white), the lack of academic material that educates our peers about white supremacy, the lack of affirmation of our own cultures on a less-than-superficial basis, or the lack of significant support for student-led initiatives that attempt to promote racial understanding on campus, students of color eventually realize that Wheaton College is an institution primarily for its white American students.

A list of concert artists/bands was provided by the Assistant Director of Student Activities at Wheaton College. Members of the community diversity committee searched artist/band webpages, billboard charts and Wikipedia to ascertain background information on the artists above

A list of concert artists/bands was provided by the Assistant Director of Student Activities at Wheaton College. Members of the community diversity committee searched artist/band webpages, billboard charts and Wikipedia to ascertain background information on the artists above

My former Professor of Anthropology wrote that, “Racism does not require racists. All it needs to thrive is people who deny the wider historical and cultural context in which their words and thoughts live.” I’m here to tell you that the denial of white supremacy is the pervasive attitude among Wheaton students. Year after year, a loud contingent of Wheaton College students vehemently deride “student-led initiatives which [attempt] to promote racial harmony and reconciliation” on campus.

Most white students at Wheaton, however, will tell you that racism is not a problem on campus. They are partly right. Most white students at Wheaton are willfully oblivious to the effects of white supremacy on campus, because it literally only affects a pittance of the campus population. So it’s understandable that white students would say that something that they do not see is not a problem. Let me take this brief moment to acknowledge the voices of white students who feel marginalized by my words. First, I have found that white people who acknowledge the reality of white supremacy tend not to get offended when people of color merely state that it exists or when we point out that most white people deny its existence. If you are white and you are aware that white supremacy is a problem, not only in the U.S., but also systemically at Wheaton, then I am probably not describing you in this post. If you feel offended by my description of white apathy toward racial realities at Wheaton, then I can think of no other reason for you being offended other than you do not agree that white supremacy is a problem on campus, and thus, you would fall into the category of students that I am describing. To deny white supremacy is to deny the experiences of students of color who are affected by it. To deny the experiences of anyone is to deny their existence, which is why students affected by white supremacy are further marginalized on campus.

I can tell you what all of this means to me. It means that as a result of Wheaton’s failure to educate its students on the reality of white supremacy in the country and abroad, and as a result of the racially apathetic student culture that derives from the institutional failure to affirm minority cultures, that I will not be recommending Wheaton College to any students of color without any serious caveats for how they will feel alienated merely because they won’t fit in with the dominant and celebrated white culture on campus. I know for a fact that I am not the only alumnus of color who feels this way. So if Wheaton wants to increase its enrollment averages for African-American and Latina/o students, I suggest (for now):

  • Make radical changes to how the most-supported campus organizations promote and exalt white culture
  • Drastically increase funding for students of color from low-income communities to attend Wheaton
  • Implement a serious academic curriculum that lightens the burden of small student groups like Solidarity Cabinet to educate the campus community about race and puts it on the faculty through a required “gen-ed” on race relations in the U.S.
  • Be sincere about claims related to hiring more faculty of color (and all claims related to diversity for that matter)

At this point, I am not interested in talking about small changes to the structure (and infrastructure) of Wheaton College. If it were even 20 years ago, then maybe we could still give Wheaton a pat on the back for trying to resist white supremacy through one or two added scholarships for Latina/o students, a half-funded scholarship for African-American students, a small change here, a small change there…but it’s almost 2014 and what we need is results! Real results are past due. We will celebrate Wheaton’s achievements on race relations when they are worth celebrating for our time.

I’m speaking to everyone in the Wheaton Community whether you are a student, faculty, administrator, staff, or alumni. Let’s urge the institution to put its money where its mouth is and to provide equal access to higher education for African-American and Latina/o students, immediately—because diversity is more than just “colorful” photos on pamphlets, brochures and websites, and thirty years behind national trends is unacceptable.

Works Cited

Kochhar, Rakesh, Richard Fry, and Paul Taylor. 2011. Weatlh Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. Retrieved (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2011/07/SDT-Wealth-Report_7-26-11_FINAL.pdf).

Lichter, Daniel T., Domenico Parisi, and Michael C. Taquino. 2012. “The Geography of Exclusion: Race, Segregation, and Concentrated Poverty.” Social Problems 59(3):364–88.

Logan, John R., Elisabeta Minca, and Sinem Adar. 2012. “The Geography of Inequality: Why Separate Means Unequal in American Public Schools.” Sociology of Education 85(3):287–301.

Macartney, Suzanne, Alemayehu Bishaw, and Kayla Fontenot. 2013. Poverty Rates for Selected Detailed Race and Hispanic Groups by State and Place: 2007-2011. Washington, D.C.: United States Census Bureau. Retrieved (http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr11-17.pdf).

Massey, Douglas S., and Nancy A. Denton. 1993. “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass.” in The inequality reader : contemporary and foundational readings in race, class, and gender, edited by David B. Grusky and Szonja Szelényi. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Sernau, Scott. 2006. Worlds Apart : Social Inequalities in a Global Economy. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press.

Related Images of Wheaton College Racism:

forum wall ntalkpendulum danny aguilarSTARSForumWall chapeltweetEJchapeltweetCrazinesschapeltweetsairplaneflaggerchapeltweetsblacksinforum wall postsolidarity meme 3The_Diversity_Initiative_(update) image 2The_Diversity_Initiative_(update) page 2


[1] MNW “is the accumulated sum of assets (houses, cars, savings and checking accounts, stocks and mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc.) minus the sum of debt (mortgages, auto loans, credit card debt, etc.)” (Kochhar, Fry, and Taylor 2011:4).

[2] Individuals were considered poor if they lived in families with incomes below the official U.S. government poverty threshold for their family size.

Addendum:

I am adding this addendum because I do care about Wheaton College, very much so. Do not take my strong language as hateful, but please read it as passionate (and frustrated with failed efforts to work within the system for two difficult years). I tried to make it clear that I do not believe that people are actually operating as conscious white supremacists, but evidently that is not as clear to some people.

Either way, PLEASE READ: An Open Letter to Students and Alumni of Color at Wheaton College by Brian Howell.
http://brianhowell.blogspot.com/2013/12/an-open-letter-to-students-and-alumni.html

Thank you, Brian, for this follow up to my blogpost. There is nothing in this post with which I disagree. You certainly emphasized some of the progress more than I did, and that is fine. My intention was not to imply that nothing has been done at all, or that there weren’t any people at Wheaton who have been sincerely trying to work hard to change the institution for a very long time.
Indeed, there are many people striving for change who I have worked with personally…and there are many who resisted me and continue to resist change as well.

I still affirm my claims that the institution has not supported these individuals enough to make the changes that are necessary for the college to be where it should be in 2014.

By the institution, then, I’m referring to people who for whatever reason haven’t made the decisions that would radically change the policies that continue to support white supremacy. My one fear with your blogpost is that some people might say, “see Wheaton has been making some progress! Therefore, we do not need to keep putting pressure on them to do more.”…To do what is necessary.

Finally, my post was indeed a call to action, a call to stay engaged or to get even more engaged, NOT a call to withdraw from all things Wheaton.

Thanks again for joining the conversation (as you have been for so long. Indeed, I learned a lot of what I know, from you.)

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121 thoughts on “For Christ and His White Kingdom – An open letter to the Wheaton College Community on White Supremacy

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  5. PaulS

    Good for you for still caring about Wheaton College. As an alum of color, I would say that most of us have taken our hits, moved on, and joined the rest of the world while leaving that corner of subculture in our rear view mirror. Wheaton needs to join the 21st century, stop shifting blame onto people of color who “need to get over their bitterness” and simply increase their diversity statistics, if they want to be taken seriously on the issue. No other way to do it. Otherwise, it is as many things are at Wheaton – hypocritical fluff.

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    1. The Tattered Rose Post author

      Thanks, PaulS! The temptation to leave the subculture of Wheaton in my rear view mirror gets more and more real by the minute. Since the original posting of this piece, it seems the response from Wheaton has been damage control, instead of sincere efforts to radically address the issue at hand.

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      1. PaulS

        Ironically, my wife and I were oblivious to Wheaton’s latest double speak on the issue (it sounds like things haven’t changed much since we were there), except that Wheaton somehow always manages to send us the Alumni newsletter, no matter where we are in the country (or out). We usually don’t spend much time on it, but the “Diversity Cover” got us curious – not a surprise .that it was likely brought on by crisis, but it led to a google search, and your blog. Your lucidity, thoughtfulness, and passion are a blessing, and we were thankful to find your honest perspective. So if anything, I thank Wheaton for bringing us back to a broken time, and encouraging us through your words. God Bless.

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  8. Zeke Baker

    Danny,
    Thanks for this essay. I had not actually heard of these #chapeltweets events until now. I am a Wheaton alum (2009), and was unrecognizably hurt by the way in which racial hegemony was perpetuated at Wheaton College. I’ve since left the evangelical world and private education, and am a PhD student at the University of California, Davis. I think the way you draw attention to these problems does a good job of objectifying the college as in a web of institutional and cultural relations of domination–and I think it is important for people at Wheaton to be encouraged to do the same. I think the task (which the minority-led initiatives on campus have always bravely done!) is to reflexively take hold of the relationship between a liberal education and the place they are in. There is no avoiding the fact that this is in some way a struggle over Wheaton College. Wheaton College is not only a site of privilege, but of the reproduction of privilege in society. To claim that this should not be the case, as indeed we need to do, should expect an uphill battle. To say that because we all are “For Christ and His Kingdom” too easily invokes the idea that, therefore, we have no internal power struggles, no relations of domination that can’t simply be sloganned away by saying we’re Christians, we’re at this great school, and therefore we’re all unequivocally “good” people.
    In this sense, we all need to recognize that this is not a matter of bickering about who is bad or good, or what people meant by an individual tweet, or whatever. Many of the comments, I think, miss the point of your essay and the stakes of the problem. The task is not condoning, defending, or admonishing particular behaviors. It is about recognizing how we all take part in systems of domination, or submit to our own subordination, and often without knowing it. It takes humility to call attention to the symptoms of our own participation, and this #chapeltweets ordeal is certainly such a symptom not only of “racism” on campus but of the sad fact that subordinate lives and cultures are seen as a more of a side-show spectacle than the sparks of the Holy Spirit at work in our broken society.
    In light of this, I too desire a redemptive stance towards the future of Wheaton.I appreciate, in particular, Brian Howell’s more constructive take (i.e. in his blog response) on how to position ourselves politically and spiritually in relation to Wheaton as an exclusionary space.

    In Solidarity,

    -Zeke Baker (’09)

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  10. Adam Garrett

    Reading this blog caused me a good deal of alarm. It was terrible to see some of the online comments and otherwise on Twitter, Facebook, etc. within the blog, but even more horrendous was the responses of some individuals who responded with desensitization and apathy rather than empathy for minorities and a desire to rise up immediately to defend them rather than responding, “It’s just a joke.”

    One of the challenges facing the administration is one of increasing diversity while not decreasing academic, professional, and Christian standards. This challenge can be met by more extensive and intentional recruitment of outstanding individuals among minorities.

    Another challenge is breaking generational segregation. Sadly, the Church is known as one of the most racially segregated institutions in the country, arguably the most segregated. The economic, racial, national, and denominational segregation of the Church is crippling its ability to function as a unit of God’s love in this world. If we cannot love our brothers and sisters, how can we love the world around us that is lost? We are to be known by love (John 13:34-35), the very love that sums up Scripture (Matthew 22:36-40, Romans 13:8-10, Galations 5:14) and apart from which we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13). In 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul writes that, “there be no divisions among you.” Wheaton, as an institution that seeks to build the body, should strive to be on the upper end of diversity among non-profit institutions with similar academic standards and tuition costs. The patterns of friendship with minorities developed at Wheaton can lead to positive changes in diversity of friendship long after students leave Wheaton, affecting the many that Wheaton alumni impact.

    Another challenge is the cultural acceptance of negative jokes in America which too often creeps into the Church. In a world where people like negativity often as long as it’s funny or catchy, followers of Jesus must not fall in line. An emphasis on the unbiblical nature of this trend could include passages such as Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29, 5:4, Romans 14:19, 15:2, etc.

    I support the diversity initiative and appreciate everyone behind it. Thank you for this blog as I was previously unaware of it.

    Adam Garrett – 09

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    1. The Tattered Rose Post author

      Thank you for your comment Garret! I really appreciated your comments about the connection this these issues have to racial segregation in the church. Stay posted as I think some opportunities for getting involved will soon arise. Peace.

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    2. The Tattered Rose Post author

      one way to show support and be constructive in your own words is merely by sending an email to the college stating your concerns. Did you read Dr. Howell’s response? He has some good suggestions on there. I think something we should support is the effort to create a core curriculum that addresses some of these issues in the classroom.

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      1. Adam Garrett

        I did go through Dr. Howell’s response and it was excellent as usual in these sorts of matters. I praise God that he is on the Wheaton faculty.
        The core curriculum mentioned in the diversity initiative sounds excellent, and I believe that due to the problematic nature of division within the Church at large and within the body of Wheaton College, it would merit this curriculum as a priority.
        Which email address would you suggest that students and alumni like myself send responses to?

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  11. The Tattered Rose Post author

    The claim, in comments below, about students of color having negative experiences related to race is a summary analysis of a different survey in 2013, conducted by my committee and by my research partner, Laura Becker, partly for SG and partly for our final project in Social Research class. It consisted of over 80 questions, that had been evaluated for potential leading, double-barreled questions, ambiguities, etc… Half of the survey was a scale for Racial Microaggressions developed by scholars in the field.

    About 1,000 students answered all of the questions. Almost 300 of them were students of color, and based on several statistical tests, and controlled variables, we concluded:

    According to data from the Student Diversity Experience Survey: 65% of Black or African American, 43.75% of Hispanic or Latina/o, 40% of Asian, 28.99% of Mixed Race, and 14.29% of Nonresident or resident alien students at Wheaton college report experiencing a combination of 30 racial micro aggressions more than “A little/rarely” … compared to 4.90% of white or Caucasian students.

    We didn’t publish the study, (yet) but you could see the list of racial micro aggressions that were included in the survey. Students were listed in the survey.

    Also, If you are unfamiliar with the term “microaggression” visit: http://www.microaggressions.com/context/race/

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  12. The Tattered Rose Post author

    As the EVP of Community Diversity on SG, I submitted about ten or so questions related to diversity to the Student Experience Survey in 2012. The figure about friends of different races was derived from these two question/prompts on the web-based survey (≈ 1,000 respondents)

    Q) List the first initials of your four best friends.

    The survey went on to ask other questions related to different topics about Wheaton, unrelated to race/ethnicity. After about four or five questions, you had click next to go the next page. On the next page appeared this question:

    Q) On the previous page, you were asked to list the first initial of your four best friends. Of these friends, how many of them were of a different race or ethnicity other than your own?

    So, no, the question was not limited to Wheaton College since people can have best friends outside of their institution. We had a pretty even spread of Freshmen, Soph, Juniors and Seniors. I’m guessing freshmen, especially would be likely to have best friends outside of Wheaton since, they had only been at Wheaton less than 6 months.

    Here were the answers by percentage of white or non-white students:

    0: White: 51.7%; Nonwhite: 13.5%
    1: White: 36.4%; Nonwhite: 14.2%
    2: White: 9.3%; Nonwhite: 14.2%
    3: White: 1.9%; Nonwhite: 17.6%
    4: White: .7%; Nonwhite: 40.5%

    After running statistical analysis tests on SPSS, as part of my social research class, we concluded that these results were statistically significant at the .001 level, meaning we can be 99% confident that they are representative of the general Wheaton population.

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  13. Marysol

    Thank you for this post. I am a freshman this year In Wheaton College, and I understand white supremacy completely. I am not saying white people are mean or anything like that, they are actually very nice and I’ve connected with some very well. However, I do feel like a lot of people are ignorant, or not aware of what minorities have to go through. Of course there is no white supremacy in the eyes of the white. But that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t there. Racism and prejudice hasn’t affected me, yet, but I think things can be handled better. Its 2013, almost 2014 and its a shame that Wheaton College is still poorly diverse. We talk about being “one” in the body of Christ, but we are not one with everyone. Were one with the people we want to be one with. Wheaton College should work harder to make campus more diverse. I also agree with the person who said that having those “special chapel” services isn’t helping. I feel like It makes it worse. Overall, this is a Christian college, and if Jesus was a student at campus what would he say? Because lets be honest, Jesus was born in Israel, and geographically the color of the skin of those people in that area is not white. So would he be an outsider too? Would he have to deal with racism too? Something to think about.

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    1. CW

      I get what you’re saying, but let’s not limit diversity solely to the color of one’s skin. If you look just at people’s skin color, the campus doesn’t look very diverse, I’ll admit that. However, diversity isn’t just about race. Race factors in, as does ethnicity (which is different than race), socioeconomic status, culture, the country that someone is from, a person’s religious beliefs (whether Christian or not, as well as what traditions a person holds to within Christianity), their sexuality, etc. Diversity isn’t and shouldn’t be solely concerned with race. Should race be a factor? Sure! But it shouldn’t be the only one.

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      1. The Tattered Rose Post author

        I don’t think Marysol is limiting “diversity solely to the color of one’s skin.” I am certainly not doing that either. It’s frustrating to hear people make straw men out of statements made by people trying to advance racial equality, putting words in our mouths, saying things that we didn’t say at all.

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    2. The Tattered Rose Post author

      Thanks for this comment Marysol. I agree that that it would be much better if there weren’t just one “special chapel” service that featured expressions of worship that are different from what is exalted as “normal” worship at most white evangelical institutions, including white churches. A friend of mine calls it a “cultural side dish” when the dominant culture sprinkles a little bit of diversity into their institutional practices, communities, and personal lives, without viewing these forms of worship as equally valuable to worship styles in the dominant culture’s repertoire.

      I do see value in focusing on, or featuring, specific cultural expressions from time to time, but instead of only having one African-American Chapel service per school year, a variety of cultural expressions should be integrated into chapel and other venues always. (p.s. I’m pretty sure there are no Latina/o or Asian chapel services, which is sad, because there is so much diversity within these communities alone, and they have unique expressions of worship that could truly bless the Wheaton Community if they just opened themselves up to the idea that their form of worship isn’t the universal norm for “right” expressions of worship.)

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      1. Sienna

        Hi, maybe it would make sense to have the same percentage of chapel worship styles as there are the different minority groups. So if there were 4% African Americans, then 1 out of 25 of the chapels could represent a typical African American worship style, and 1 out of 10 chapels could have songs in Spanish (or at least use Latin rhythms) if Latinos formed 10% of the student body, etc. Or maybe just have equal percentages across the board for all races? Or maybe this is the wrong way to address the problem?

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      2. The Tattered Rose Post author

        Well, it definitely wouldn’t be the ONLY way to address the multifaceted, deeply-entrenched, pernicious problems of white supremacy and color-blind racism, but addressing the lack of diversity in chapel worship is certainly PART of the solution.

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      3. John Garvin

        I appreciate your concern. My mom attended Wheaton College. I attend College Church that is closely affiliated with the College. I have engaged African Americans at my job asking them both about how they feel the race issue. I believe that there is still much progress. On the other hand, there has been much progress. It is true that we have very few minorities in our church. The focal point has to be speaking the truth in love. That is what Jesus embodied perfectly. It is also interesting that the demographics for Wheaton in 2010 were 4.5% for African American and 4.9% for Asian American http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1781048.html Here is another demographic showing 3.36% for African American. The truth is Wheaton is very Caucasian 86.90% http://www.areavibes.com/wheaton-il/demographics/

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  14. Pingback: Why Higher Educational Standards Are A Step Toward Biblical Justice | The Tattered Rose

    1. The Tattered Rose Post author

      Thanks Kristen!

      I actually responded to the racial hypersensitivity post on the forum wall, so it is my email address. I decided to let people who read my blog see that I had been trying the very soft, nuanced, and “loving,” approach for a while before I finally decided to be candid on this post.

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  15. Sarah

    Hey Danny,

    You state that “Wheaton College and other white evangelical institutions in the U.S. continue to operate to varying degrees under the framework of white supremacy.” Your article makes it seem like this is a uniquely “evangelical problem”. You fail to point out, and I think you would agree with me, that the “ethos of white supremacy” as you describe it is a reality at virtually ALL selective private colleges (with the exception of possibility the historically black colleges). As the hard data from US News that Sheila pointed out shows, even the most secular and liberal places like University of Wisconsin-Madison, Connecticut College, Bucknell University, Bard College, etc. have lower diversity scores than Wheaton. While I agree with many of your points, I don’t agree with the tone of this article that makes the problem appear to be a uniquely “evangelical problem.”

    Best,
    Sarah

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    1. The Tattered Rose Post author

      I agree, it is not just a Wheaton problem. It is a white evangelical problem too. It is a white america problem, especially. I just addressed this in the comment above (or below? can’t see where this is placed), so I will copy that here:

      Wheaton is not directly responsible for the entire system of white supremacy. You are correct in saying this. I agree, but being “not-racist,” or not white supremacist, is not enough. In order to create a more just world today, it is imperative to be anti-racist, anti-white supremacist, especially for an institution with as much influence, and as much power, as the self-proclaimed Christ-missioned, “flagship of evangelical schools.” To quote Uncle Ben, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” White supremacy exists and it isn’t just going to go away. If you are white, you may not be directly responsible for creating it, but you are benefiting from it. If you have agency to change what is wrong, and you do not, then you become complicit in the wrongdoing that is occurring. This is my philosophy. That’s fine if you disagree, but I am hardly being “irresponsible” by using this term. Maybe my usage of the term is nuanced from the way a lot of white people like to define it, but it is not completely arbitrary or inappropriate for describing the way that Wheaton is operating.

      I focus on Wheaton, because it is my alma mater. I have deep personal experiences with white supremacy at Wheaton, and I needed to tell that story not just for me, but for all the other people who have said they had the same experience not just at Wheaton but at other Christian colleges too. This happens at a lot of schools, but not at every school. Some schools are doing a significantly better job at actively opposing white supremacy. I am calling my school to be one of those schools, especially because of its place of influence within the white evangelical church and other evangelical colleges. It should be leading the way, not lagging far behind.

      All that to say, I wholeheartedly agree that it is not just an “evangelical problem.” But considering the professed values of evangelical Christians, it is an embarrassment that this is a problem for them.

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      1. The Tattered Rose Post author

        since that was a copy and paste, please don’t read everything i said as applying to you Sarah 🙂 I just had to save some time and i think it at least partly addresses your comment.

        Peace,
        Danny

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  16. Sheila

    Here is some hard data on the topic at hand. US News has published a campus diversity index, ranking 211 national liberal arts colleges. Wheaton is listed at 113, right at the median. While it is therefore more diverse than such schools as Calvin and Carthage, Wheaton is behind other top tier schools like Harvey Mudd and Pomona. While it is a worthy goal to have the student body represent the diversity in the body of Christ, Wheaton is hardly a bastion of “white supremacy”, inflammatory language intended to equate the Wheaton administration and faculty with the KKK and skinheads. Since you have repeatedly said that the racism you cite is very “subtle”, perhaps a more credible term could be used, unless the intention is to anger and induce guilt in your white readers?

    colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-liberal-arts-colleges/campus-ethnic-diversity/spp%2B50/page+3

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    1. The Tattered Rose Post author

      thanks for this data. So using the phrase white supremacy is not inflammatory, it is accurate when you read the actual definition of white supremacy. To promote the system of white supremacy one need not be a member of the KKK or a skinhead. The race disparities are a function of an inadequate effort to resist the broader system of white supremacy in our country—of which Wheaton is complicit to a certain degree, but complicit nonetheless. I stated very clearly that I do not believe that the people running the school or even most of the student body are white supremacists…but the elevation of white culture as superior to others is what Wheaton does. Now, I believe it is done UNINTENTIONALLY. However, that is not an excuse, because they know that by not being proactive when it comes to racial inclusion on campus, that white culture would dominate everything with no impunity. White supremacy is a force that has to be resisted. It is a centuries old system of racial inequality that continues to operate on sheer inertia from the past, and through active policies today in other institutions (e.g. government, the white evangelical church, etc.).

      Please read the definition of white supremacy in my blog, and read my very clear statement that I do not claim that people are making conscious decisions to promote racial hatred and the superiority of the white race over others. Even still, white supremacy is a more than appropriate term to use.

      I can’t respond as well as I’d like at the moment (studying for finals), but Wheaton’s diversity index is only .32 on a scale of 0 to 1. the higher up on the scale, the more likely it is for any random student to interact with a student of another race. A diversity index of .32 is incredibly low, which is a big part of the problem. I did not go into all of this in the blog, but part of the reason for increasing student numbers is not just about racial equity, but also about critical mass theory on campus. Studies show that whenever you have a population like Wheaton, where one race makes up over 20% of the population, that it is alienating for people who do not identify with the critical mass. Now this does not even mean that the critical mass is monolithic, but because of centuries of racism in the Americas, and because of racial residential segregation, and the racial segregation of public (and private schools), which still exist today (de facto segregation), then it is more likely that white students will be culturally more similar to each other than they would be to people of other races (obviously, there are exceptions to the “rule,” statistical probability). All this to say, a diversity index of .32, whether it is “not the least diverse” compared to other schools, is still bad for students on campus in terms of creating opportunities for interracial friendships. In that sense Wheaton perpetuates segregation, because since it very unlikely for white students at Wheaton to have significant interactions (and relationships) with people of other races during their four years on campus, then they are also less likely to live in communities, and attend churches, that are mixed race. This just perpetuates racial segregation all over again.

      I would note that there are Christian Colleges with diversity indices above .6 and .7, which if Wheaton claims to be the “flagship evangelical school,” then it should step its game up. Thanks again. Happy Holidays! (also, i conducted a study on campus with 1,000 respondents and can affirm that the majority of Wheaton students who are white report that they have 0 friends of a race that is different from their own and the overwhelming majority have only 0-1 friend of another race; Minorities on the other had always had at least 2 to 4)

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      1. Sheila

        Thanks for the quick response!

        The thing is, you can’t actually define a term to be what you want when it already has a well-known denotation (and especially connotation!). Here is the definition from Wikipedia: “White supremacy is the belief of, and/or promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds and that therefore whites should politically, economically and socially dominate non-whites.” I hope you don’t believe that Wheaton College is actively try to dominate people of color, and encouraging others to do so. If you believe (as it seems) that the College just isn’t doing enough to help people of color, but isn’t actually actively working to suppress them, it’s not a kind or proper use of the term.

        Also, I didn’t see any Christian colleges with a diversity index above 0.7, or even above 0.6. Which ones were you seeing?

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      2. The Tattered Rose Post author

        Thanks for staying engaged Sheila!

        I have to say that I disagree with the definition given by wikipedia. By no means can a term like “white supremacy” be defined by a simple user-generated-content website. Anyone can add to wiki, and since you are right in saying that the popular understanding of white supremacy is that of racial hatred and conscious racial superiority, it is no surprise that wiki would list this as the “definition.”

        But the thing is that the term “white supremacy” is not as unambiguous as most words you could simply look up in the dictionary. It doesn’t describe an actual physical object, but a complex system instead. In other words, the definition is debatable and you are free to define it as you have before, but that doesn’t make it the “right” definition. Social scientists and critical race theorists, people who study this topic in-depth in the academy, are defining it differently than you are. A fabulous book on this topic is, written by Duke University’s Professor of Sociology, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, entitled White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era.

        brief description:

        Is a racial structure still firmly in place in the United States? White Supremacy and Racism answers that question with an unequivocal yes, describing a contemporary system that operates in a covert, subtle, institutional, and superficially nonracial fashion.

        Assessing the major perspectives that social analysts have relied on to explain race and racial relations, Bonilla-Silva labels the post–civil rights ideology as color-blind racism: a system of social arrangements that maintain white privilege at all levels. His analysis of racial politics in the United States makes a compelling argument for a new civil rights movement rooted in the race-class needs of minority masses, multiracial in character—and focused on attaining substantive rather than formal equality.

        I will post the christian colleges with higher diversity indices tomorrow.

        Thanks again for your contributions. I absolutely do not expect everyone to agree with me, but I do very much appreciate good dialogue.

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      3. Sheila

        Thanks. OK, here is the definition from the Oxford English dictionary: “The belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society.”

        This is identical to the first definition, and indeed, any dictionary will say something like this. Of course, you can find individual scholars redefining an existing word or phrase, but that doesn’t change the meaning for everyone else.

        Where are you going to grad school? Are finals over?

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      4. Kevin

        You make a great point Sheila! If we are going to change policies and be agents of change through social justice as many sociologists and community activists strive towards, then the language which we use must be the language of the masses. As it is, when you use the phrase/term “White Supremacy” in America, the masses get a mental image of KKK members burning a cross of a front lawn while flying the Stars and Bars. Even if a handful of sociological theorists use the term in a different way and one chooses to adopt that definition it doesn’t matter unless you change how the vast majority of people who use that term think. Otherwise your message will forever be skewed…even by the people you intend to help. Does the average person know the difference?

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      5. The Tattered Rose Post author

        Dear Sheila and Kevin,

        Could the masses be wrong? Since when is something true just because popular opinion believes it to be true? It is not just a “handful of theorists” who understand that white supremacy is the most accurate term for systems that create or perpetuate racial inequality in favor of white people, whether intentionally or unintentionally, consciously or subconsciously.

        You may disagree with my usage of the term white supremacy to describe the reality at Wheaton College, but you are incorrect in calling me irresponsible for employing this term. Before employing the term, I thought long and hard, and very critically about this issue, and very deliberately used this term because it actually describes the end result of Wheaton’s actions and inactions. That is, due to Wheaton’s failure to utilize the resources at its disposal, it has continued to create racial inequalities on campus. First there are the racial disparities in enrollment, but also, and you can see some of the comments of people who said that this was there exact experience too, Wheaton exalts various forms of white culture over and above all other non-white cultures, thereby alienating, ever so subtly and sometimes not so subtly, many non-white students. The racial inequality is that non-white students are made to feel like Wheaton is not their community, it is not their home; we are merely invited guests in someone else’s home. Whereas white students, at least in terms of race and culture, do not question whether Wheaton affirms their racial and cultural identities. This is a system of racial inequality that favors white students. In other words, Wheaton is operating under the framework of white supremacy.

        At this point, let’s just agree to disagree. But, do you think that anything needs to change at Wheaton related to how non-white students are made to feel? Does the institution bear any responsibility in your eyes?

        Finally, let me quote an encouraging email I received from a professor of sociology who read this blog!

        “Dear Daniel,

        This is a very good post. […] I have argued lately that most colleges in the USA are HWCUs, historically white colleges and universities, with white traditions, symbols, demography, curriculum, and ecology/climate. This is why they need not be “racist” to produce racist outcomes. The whiteness has been institutionalized and will require first to be acknowledged and then to be dismantled trough specific structural and “cultural” policies.”

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      6. The Tattered Rose Post author

        p.s. On Kevin’s last statement:

        Even if a handful of sociological theorists use the term in a different way and one chooses to adopt that definition it doesn’t matter unless you change how the vast majority of people who use that term think. Otherwise your message will forever be skewed…even by the people you intend to help. Does the average person know the difference?

        What do you think part of the purpose of this blog is? Your minds may not be changed, but I’ve received many messages about how this post has helped to think of white supremacy in a different way.

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      7. Kevin

        I can’t speak for Sheila, so I don’t want to lump my own feeling in with hers. You correctly say that something isn’t correct by virtue of pure numbers. I believe Dawkins or Hitchens make the same comment regarding theism. However, when we are talking about language and the usage of terms, the rules change. I had a professor at Wheaton once list terms that we have misused with the passage of time. For instance, we use the term “decimate” to refer to something that was utterly destroyed but the true definition means to reduce by 1/10th. Is someone wrong when they say that US forces decimated Iraqi forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom? No. It is a correct statement because our society accepts that terminology. “Homosexuality” is another example. It used to be used in the 1920s to describe a medical “condition” describing those who engage in sex for pleasure not for the purpose of procreation. It takes on a totally different meaning today. So when we say people are “right” or “wrong” with the usage of language, that is besides the point because language isn’t objective, it is dynamic and changing all the time. However, we can say that you used the term in a way that wouldn’t readily be recognized by the majority of people in America. To be clear, one version (that is widely used today) is an active system of discrimination. The way you used the term describes white supremacy EITHER as active or passive discrimination. As a society, we generally don’t describe passive discrimination or anything other than anti-racism (which seems to be the only acceptable position in your opinion) as being an example of white supremacy.

        Lastly, you mention the racial disparities in enrollment, however, you have yet to discuss the issue of minority recruitment and a simple lack of minority applications. You can’t fault Wheaton for failing to enroll students who don’t apply. I believe this is another unfair accusation that you level at Wheaton College and it requires some thoughtful consideration.

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      8. The Tattered Rose Post author

        Hi Kevin,

        Thanks again for staying engaged. I want to respond to your argument, but before I do that, I want to say that at the end of this, I would love for us to find a way to maximize our shared interest and passion for the future of Wheaton College. I’m assuming you care about Wheaton based on how engaged you are in this conversation. If this is a wrong assumption, let me know. I hope it is clear that I really do care about the people at Wheaton and want to see it transformed into a place where all could flourish and not have anyone feel rejected based on the color of their skin, their culture or a myriad of other aspects of a person’s social identity. I’m not demanding a utopian, unrealistic standard where everyone feels warm and fuzzy all of the time, but I do think it should be a lot better than it is right now. Surely you don’t think that I have not identified anything that is wrong with Wheaton in my analysis, do you? If white supremacy isn’t the issue, then what would you say is the problem that impacts countless students of color at Christian colleges across the country, including Wheaton? (I’m focusing on Wheaton explicitly and Christian colleges, implicitly, because they should be held to a higher standard on issues of justice and morality, don’t you think?)

        Now, let me work backwards from your comment. You say that I have not discussed minority recruitment and a simple lack of minority applicants, but I have. It isn’t explicit, and maybe I’ll elucidate this point in a follow-up blog, but I did say in the blog:

        I can tell you what all of this means to me. It means that as a result of Wheaton’s failure to educate its students on the reality of white supremacy in the country and abroad, and as a result of the racially apathetic student culture that derives from the institutional failure to affirm minority cultures, that I will not be recommending Wheaton College to any students of color without any serious caveats for how they will feel alienated merely because they don’t fit in with the dominant and celebrated white culture on campus. I know for a fact that I am not the only alumnus of color who feels this way.

        Undoubtedly, this has a negative impact on minority applications, because many students who go to Wheaton have either had a relative, a friend of the family’s, or someone they know from church who encouraged them to go, who told them how great it was. Most white students report that they had an amazing time at Wheaton and that it was one of the best experiences of their lives. I won’t say that most students of color say the opposite, but based on several studies at school’s with similar cultures, and based on a study I did wherein 1,000 students were surveyed on their experience with diversity-related issues, I can tell you that a significantly higher percentage of students of color than white students had negative and hurtful experiences related to race. Because the institution has failed to adequately cultivate a culture that does not elevate white culture above all other cultures (and yes, this happens at Wheaton: just ask ten students of color, and I guarantee the majority will agree with me), then alumni of color are less enthusiastic than white alum whenever it comes to promoting or recommending their alma mater to relatives or other people of color. You can’t blame the alumni of color for being honest about their experiences.

        Next, I did say in a comment below that recruitment is absolutely an issue! Who is responsible for recruitment? The College! They choose where they go to recruit. They choose which churches they connect to. They choose the high schools with which they establish relationships. The onus of recruitment is solely on the college. Black and Brown people are NOT hard to find. There are plenty of magnet schools in cities across the country that are predominately black and brown. Wheaton should go there, and I’m sure they’ll find some religious students of color who are more than academically qualified to attend Wheaton College. I don’t know if you know this or not, but among marginalized communities, like black and brown people in the U.S., faith (and specifically Christianity) plays a major role in their lives and in their communities. There is no excuse for not trying to recruit these kids.

        Finally, on the term white supremacy: I won’t belabor the points I already made, but I will address your claim that my usage of the term white supremacy is not common in society. Whose society are you talking about? Yours, I’m guessing? Are the majority of the people in your social network white? If so, then maybe you are right in saying that most [white] people would be averse to using white supremacy to describe a “system of discrimination.” However, if you even look at the number of people who have liked this article on various social media sites, and who have messaged me directly thanking me for sharing their experience, and who have commented below saying thank you, you might find that in different parts of society (which you seem to be somewhat disconnected from), they have no qualms with using the term white supremacy to describe a system that perpetuates racial inequalities in favor of white people. In other words, your definition of white supremacy is not universal, especially not in communities of color. I’m not trying to be antagonistic, but I’m just being honest that you are judging something to be common based on your social location.

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  17. Adam

    I find myself a little unsure of how I feel in reaction to your post. I welcome the obvious passion and fire in your heart for equality (specifically racial equality in this post) and can in no way deny the benefits for the student body and the institution if minorities were better represented at Wheaton. I am an Asian-American graduate from Wheaton College (2009 so recent-ish) so I have been away for a few years and can only comment on my own experiences. I can tell you that while I appreciated attempts at racial reconciliation and understanding, they were the most alienating and degrading parts of my entire Wheaton experience and, quite frankly, my entire life. During orientation week, they performed a skit to demonstrate how to approach people who are of a different race than you by using minority students dressed in the most stereotypical outfits imaginable. While I understand the intention, it did nothing but reinforce stereotypes and alienate every minority student on campus by being made into a different creature that needs to be treated differently.

    Does solidarity cabinet still exist on campus? Each year they would put up posters meant to guilt-trip the white students into admitting they are terrible racists. They used falsified and twisted history to promote dialogue which ended up just becoming backlash at their own lack of understanding. Before I had any direct experience with solidarity cabinet, I was actually really excited to know that such a group existed on campus. Then when they met a hispanic friend of mine on campus, they said, “Oh, we have support groups for people like you.” I was told that I would make the most friends if I just went to the asian club. Since when is sticking only to your race part of solidarity?

    Maybe it has changed since I graduated, but one of the biggest issues I would observe is not just the lack of minority representation, but the lack of social integration on campus by the minority groups. While it is obviously not the job of the minorities to guide racial reconciliation and integration on their own, it is like they actively fought against it. In saga there were the Asian tables, the black tables, and everyone else. Around campus you would see the asian clique with 95% of all the asian students only hanging out with each other. The gospel choir had students of only 1 race represented. It was the asian group who said my friend wasn’t a real asian because she’s bi-racial (half white half asian). I was called a twinkie by the asian club (yellow outside white inside) because I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood with mostly white friends. You can probably understand why I never went back to their events.

    In regards to the Chapel tweets, I do not condone the racist tone or insensitivity. However, I question how effective or racially sensitive having a Rhythm and Praise chapel really is. It was the “lets have things from an african tradition so we feel a little better about ourselves” chapel. Maybe I’m in the minority (minority of the minority??) but I find it alienating being pigeon-holed by having a chapel program that is supposed to represent my culture and history based entirely on the color of my skin and not my actual culture and personal history. This kind of overt action continually reminded me that I am a minority and we needed to remind the rest of the student body that I’m not really like them and that I don’t quite belong because I need a special chapel once a year. For me personally, I would rather have worship from different cultural backgrounds simply intermingled with each other throughout the year. If we are really after racial integration and equality, why then do we continually have to have special events to highlight how different we are from the rest?

    I guess, after writing this, my point is this: I GREATLY appreciate the seemingly proactive choices and actions that you have already taken to help racial equality at Wheaton and I know that Wheaton still has a very long way to go. However, be careful to make sure your reconciliation and racial equality efforts do not alienate those who you are trying to help or undermine your goal. For me, it became exhausting having race brought up at every point in my time at Wheaton, even if it was meant to help.

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  18. Kevin

    Danny,

    If you don’t mind, I would like to add another comment. I believe this article is well-written and has some good statistical analysis, but in my opinion, you began with a problem (racist tweets) and tried to explain that problem using a local community and then a much broader national community. Here are a few problems I see:

    1) We can all agree that the tweets were racist and wrong. There is no question about that. The problem arises when we begin to extrapolate the actions of a few to generalize the mindset of an entire community or culture. In fact, isn’t that what racism is?

    2) I’m, admittedly, not intimately familiar with the ChapelTweets situation so I am going to ask questions here. The internet offers layers of anonymity. Do we know if the person Tweeting was a Wheaton student or watching chapel online? Were the tweeters identified? Where actions taken against them?

    3) To say that the “ethos”, the spirit of the culture, the purpose for existence of Wheaton College is to promote the supremacy of the white race in an active manner flies in the face of its historical foundations of being started by white abolitionists in the 1860s. Therefore, I find your comment and your thesis to be historically inaccurate.

    4) To explain racist tweets by this ethos based on enrollment numbers misses yet another big point. You provide the numbers of minority students attending Wheaton but you don’t provide the numbers of minority students who actually apply to Wheaton. Allow me to give you an example. The last numbers I saw were that nationally, black students have the highest acceptance rate at 31% and whites were second at 25%. What this means is that if Wheaton has an enrollment of 2,500 students and there are 3% black students and 83% white students the rate of applications is more telling. This means that according to these numbers there are 75 black students and 2075 white students currently enrolled at Wheaton. This also means that roughly 225 black student applied in the first place while roughly 8300 white students applied. Why the discrepancy in application?

    5) This appears to be an issue of minority recruitment rather than racism. Now, I personally know the Director of Admissions at Wheaton (a black woman) as well as the head of Minority Recruitment at Wheaton (a black man). Wouldn’t it seem accurate that these two people have more to do with the numbers of minority students at Wheaton than the student body or the professors or the bands that play at the Student Union? Obviously I’m not blaming them for the lack of minority representation at Wheaton. I have spoken with them and they express the difficulty of attracting minority (especially black students) to Wheaton.

    6) You mention Wheaton’s “peer schools” in your article as a comparison. Perhaps I missed the reference, but did you identify who the “peer schools” to Wheaton are that you looked at? I’m just curious which schools you are comparing Wheaton to.

    Ultimately, are there racists at Wheaton? Absolutely. There are white, black, brown, etc racists. Racists of all kinds in all segments of society. Does Wheaton exist to elevate the white race as being superior to all others? That’s absurd and irresponsible to say. I would really hope that you re-evaluated the way you stated this in your article. On a totally serious note, if you ever want to come and experience, first hand, what a low-income, predominantly minority rural North Carolina 8th Grade Social Studies class looks like, I would love to offer you the opportunity to broaden your horizons.

    Kevin

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    1. The Tattered Rose Post author

      I have not had a chance to read your whole comment, but I partly agree with one sentence that sticks out. This appears to be an issue of minority recruitment rather than racism. I would just add that it is both/and, with an understanding of “racism,” as a systemic problem, not a racial hatred individual problem. I tried to make clear that Wheaton does not have to have any active policies that deny black and brown youth access to their institution. The race disparities are a function of an inadequate effort to resist the broader system of white supremacy in our country—of which Wheaton is complicit to a certain degree, but complicit nonetheless. I stated very clearly that I do not believe that the people running the school or even most of the student body are white supremacists…but the elevation of white culture as superior to others is what Wheaton does. Now, I believe it is done UNINTENTIONALLY. However, that is not an excuse, because they know that by not being proactive when it comes to racial inclusion on campus, that white culture would dominate everything with no impunity. White supremacy is a force that has to be resisted. It is a centuries old system of racial inequality that continues to operate on sheer inertia from the past, and through active policies today in other institutions (e.g. government, the white evangelical church, etc.).

      Anyways, read my definition of white supremacy and read my very clear statement that I do not claim that people are making conscious decisions to promote racial hatred and the superiority of the white race over others. I have to be brief, now. Thanks for your comments, but I have to study for a final exam. Take care. happy holidays!

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      1. Kevin

        Thanks Danny,

        I believe that this is where things get really “funky”. On the one hand you label the ethos of Wheaton as being that of white supremacy…a very inflammatory term in American society and rightly so. On the other hand you say that it is unintentional, the leadership and people at Wheaton aren’t white supremacists or even racist, that this white supremacy is the product of centuries of culture, etc. So why single out Wheaton College? To me, it appears as though you are saying “Wheaton is a school of white supremacy but they are in no way responsible for it…but they still are.” I’m starting to find your arguments making less and less sense. Are you saying that South American culture is Brown Supremacist or that African culture is Black Supremacist? Are you arguing that any majority race automatically becomes “evil” and should be fought against simply because it is the dominant skin color of a particular country or continent? Respectfully, i continue to disagree with your assessment of Wheaton College. It’s quite fair to say that the majority of the students come from upper middle class, white, Evangelical segments of American society, but once you begin to pull at that thread of “why?” you have to be prepared to find a multitude of reasons. The same is said for every skin color. However, saying that there aren’t a lot of black students at Wheaton because Wheaton is a white supremacist school is irresponsible.

        Thanks,
        Kevin

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      2. The Tattered Rose Post author

        First of all, you are putting words into my mouth. You are misconstruing what I am saying to fit an easily refutable claim, that is, that “Wheaton College is a white supremacist school.” I said “white supremacy is the ethos of Wheaton college,” meaning white supremacy is in the air, it is what you are likely to feel, especially when you are not white. I also said that Wheaton, like many white evangelical institutions “continue to operate to varying degrees under the framework of white supremacy.” Again, this is vastly different from saying that Wheaton is a white supremacist school. If you cannot see the difference, then I’m not sure what else to tell you.

        Wheaton is not directly responsible for the entire system of white supremacy. You are correct in saying this. I agree, but being “not-racist,” or not white supremacist, is not enough. In order to create a more just world today, it is imperative to be anti-racist, anti-white supremacist, especially for an institution with as much influence, and as much power, as the self-proclaimed Christ-missioned, “flagship of evangelical schools.” To quote Uncle Ben, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” White supremacy exists and it isn’t just going to go away. If you are white, you may not be directly responsible for creating it, but you are benefiting from it. If you have agency to change what is wrong, and you do not, then you become complicit in the wrongdoing that is occurring. This is my philosophy. That’s fine if you disagree, but I am hardly being “irresponsible” by using this term. Maybe my usage of the term is nuanced from the way a lot of white people like to define it, but it is not completely arbitrary or inappropriate for describing the way that Wheaton is operating.

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      3. The Tattered Rose Post author

        Also, to answer this:

        I’m starting to find your arguments making less and less sense. Are you saying that South American culture is Brown Supremacist or that African culture is Black Supremacist? Are you arguing that any majority race automatically becomes “evil” and should be fought against simply because it is the dominant skin color of a particular country or continent?

        No, it is not just about being the dominant skin color of a particular country or continent. It is about power. It is about history. South America and Africa didn’t colonize the world over a period of a few centuries, establish a transatlantic slave trade, nearly exterminate indigenous peoples in the Americas, exploit all of the “dark” lands of the world for natural resources leaving them so economically unstable that to this day many of those countries’ citizens are fleeing to other lands for better opportunities, establish a whole slew of institutions such as the media, church, schools and academia that all elevate a White-Anglo norm/standard of everything. They don’t continue to be the “moral” police of the world and start wars in other countries under the guises of freedom and democracy.

        So sheer majority of Latina/os in South America and black people in Africa, doesn’t make those continents brown or black supremacist continents.

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      4. Kevin

        Danny,

        Sadly, it wasn’t until tonight that I read your testimony in your “about me section”. I typically like to know the story of the person I’m speaking with and I began a conversation with you before getting to know you. For that I apologize. If you don’t mind me asking, I would like to ask you a few questions about yourself in light of this conversation. First off, your story growing up doesn’t sound like the “typical” Wheaton student story and a lot of that is probably the reason for your article. May I ask how a Hispanic kid from Chicago with a criminal record and a single mother supporting him became a student at Wheaton College? I grew up a fairly “normal” white male in the suburbs of Chicago in a middle class family, went to private high school, and barely got accepted into Wheaton. By comparison, I would say that 9 times out of 10, a person with my backstory would have a much easier time getting into a school like Wheaton College. I came out of Wheaton with a mountain of school loans. Granted, I didn’t receive a single cent in scholarship money or grants. Many people talk about the socio-econimic inequalities in the US as a reason why more minorities don’t go to college. It makes me wonder sometimes how a person with your particular background was able to overcome all of that and defy one of the major talking points about the inequalities that exist in America. I realize asking someone to disclose their personal finances or scholarship/grant awards in quite personal, yet still relevant to the current discussion. Lastly, I don’t remember seeing a single person from the Wheaton College admissions office coming to my high school with the express purpose of recruiting students from my high school. I don’t know where you went to high school, but based on your story I’m assuming it was in the city of Chicago. Did you have Wheaton representatives coming to recruit minority students from your high school? I’m just curious and that’s why I’m asking. I know that Wheaton has been actively recruiting students of color very heavily recently. I received an e-mail from one of these recruiters due to my work with minority students in the city of Houston recently. Sometimes it amazes me how far Wheaton admissions recruiters will travel for the specific purpose of recruiting students of color to add to the diversity number. Anyway, I was wondering if you might be willing to share a little more about your story with me so that I might better understand your position and the comments you have made recently.

        Thanks,
        Kevin

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  19. Matt

    As a former student at Wheaton, I resonate with alot of what you have said here. Even though I am white, I grew up in a lower income neighborhood on the west coast, and attended highschools and a community college in which I had friends of many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I have seen first hand the ways in which different cultural distinctions tend to break down through prolonged contact with other cultures, creating a new and third thing, connected to both, yet genuinely distinct.

    I also experienced upon coming to Wheaton a particular feeling of unease about the cultural homogeneity of my surroundings. I even found myself having to make conscious decisions when talking with those who were different than the cultural norm about how to converse. This was foreign and repulsive to me. This distance seemed to be happening in me, not because of anything said or anything I did, but simply because the norm at the college was different. I was uncomfortable when placed in diverse environments.

    I don’t think it is an issue of “white” supremacy. Especially seeing as the category “White” is a catch all term encompassing everyone from middle-easterners to east asians, to russians, to englishmen. The issue is cultural homogeneity. But a problem like that doesn’t change by getting angry about it, calling it evil, etc. That’s like saying that if a foreigner arrives in a village in the 13th century looking for a place to stay without knowing the customs of the place, where to ask for help, what kinds of conversations the people are and feels a gap between himself and the villagers is evil. That is simply not the case. The feeling of being out of place in a culture not our own is a normal feeling. I would feel out of place in a high end art gallery. I am not part of that conversation. If the people present seem distant or cold, it may be a problem of mis-communication. This mis-communication is not evil, but is to be expected.

    I hate to sound harsh, and I in no way intend to downplay the problem expressed here in this article. But I do have to say that I think calling the problem of Cultural mis-understanding Hatred or supremacy because one culture is larger than the other in particular locations is kind of overstating the case. I know where I am from, the “white” culture, which was the “dominant” culture, even if much more diverse, simply evolved into something that encompassed elements of many different cultures. The issue is much more complicated than this article allows for.

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  20. The Tattered Rose Post author

    Reblogged this on The Tattered Rose and commented:

    Yes, white supremacy is the ethos of my alma mater, but here is what I am not saying: I do not believe that the people running the school or even most of the student body are white supremacists, if by the term, you mean they embody racial hatred and believe that the white race is superior to others. No, it is much more subtle (and systemic) than that—but this is the ethos of Wheaton, nonetheless.

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  21. CW

    Honest question here… I wasn’t a student during the chapel tweet controversy, but from what I’ve seen/heard, I have one thing that I just wanted to know. Was blackface actually used in a Wheaton College chapel? Last time I checked, blackface was generally considered racist. And if so, how is it that the tweets that were posted about it received such backlash while the actual act on stage wasn’t criticized?

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  22. Sheila

    Some interesting hard data on diversity. US News has ranked 211 national liberal arts colleges using a campus diversity index indicator. On this list, Wheaton ranks 113th. Not the most diverse, but far from the least. Schools with less diversity include Calvin, Carthage, Hope, and many other similar schools. Schools with more minority representation include Amherst, Pomona, and Harvey Mudd.

    http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-liberal-arts-colleges/campus-ethnic-diversity/spp%2B50/page+3

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    1. The Tattered Rose Post author

      thanks for this data. I can’t respond fully at the moment, but Wheaton’s diversity index is only .32 on a scale of 0 to 1. the higher up on the scale, the more likely it is for any random student to interact with a student of another race. A diversity index of .32 is incredibly low, which is a big part of the problem. I did not go into all of this in the blog, but part of the reason for increasing student numbers is not just about racial equity, but also about critical mass theory on campus. Studies show that whenever you have a population like Wheaton, where one race makes up over 20% of the population, that it is alienating for people who do not identify with the critical mass. Now this does not even mean that the critical mass is monolithic, but because of centuries of racism in the Americas, and because of racial residential segregation, and the racial segregation of public (and private schools), which still exist today (de facto segregation), then it is more likely that white students will be culturally more similar to each other than they would be to people of other races (obviously, there are exceptions to the “rule,” statistical probability). All this to say, a diversity index of .32, whether it is “not the least diverse” compared to other schools, is still bad for students on campus in terms of creating opportunities for interracial friendships. In that sense Wheaton perpetuates segregation, because since it very unlikely for white students at Wheaton to have significant interactions (and relationships) with people of other races during their four years on campus, then they are also less likely to live in communities, and attend churches, that are mixed race. This just perpetuates racial segregation all over again. Thank you for your post. I wasn’t necessarily debating anything you said, just commenting on Wheaton’s low diversity index, is all. I would not that there are Christian Colleges with diversity indices above .6 and .7, which if Wheaton claims to be the “flagship evangelical school,” then it should step its game up. Thanks again. Happy Holidays! (also, i conducted a study on campus with 1,000 respondents and can affirm that the overwhelming majority of Wheaton students who are white report that they have 0 to 1 friend of race that is different from their own; Minorities on the other had always had at least 2 to 4)

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      1. CW

        Was this study that you did ever replicated? Also, is the question of having a friend of a different race specific to their friends at Wheaton, or in general? Also, it should hold that minorities have a much higher rate of friends, especially at Wheaton, outside of their own race. When your race is only representative of 4% of Wheaton’s campus, then you are almost forced into getting to know someone of the other 96%. It is much easier, if you are in the 80%, to not have to interact as much with someone of another race.

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      2. The Tattered Rose Post author

        The survey was called conducted by Student Government in 2012. As the EVP of Community Diversity on SG, I submitted about ten or so questions related to diversity. The figure about friends of different was derived from these two question/prompts:

        Q) List the first initials of your four best friends.

        The survey went on to ask other questions related to different topic about Wheaton, unrelated to race/ethnicity. After about four or five questions, you had click next to go the next page. On the next page appeared this question:

        Q) On the previous page, you were asked to list the first initial of your four best friends. Of these friends, how many of them were of a different race or ethnicity other than your own?

        So, no, the question was not limited to Wheaton College since people can have best friends outside of their institution. We had a pretty even spread of Freshmen, Soph, Juniors and Seniors. I’m guessing freshmen, especially would be likely to have best friends outside of Wheaton since, they had only been at Wheaton less than 6 months.

        Here were the answers by percentage of white or non-white students:

        0: White: 51.7%; Nonwhite: 13.5%
        1: White: 36.4%; Nonwhite: 14.2%
        2: White: 9.3%; Nonwhite: 14.2%
        3: White: 1.9%; Nonwhite: 17.6%
        4: White: .7%; Nonwhite: 40.5%

        After running statistical analysis tests on SPSS, as part of my social research class, we concluded that these results were statistically significant at the .001 level, meaning we can be 99% confident that they are representative of the general Wheaton population.

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      3. The Tattered Rose Post author

        The claim about students of color having negative experiences related to race is a summary analysis of a different survey in 2013, conducted by my committee and by my research partner, Laura Becker, partly for SG and partly for our final project in Social Research class. It consisted of over 80 questions, that had been evaluated for potential leading, double-barreled questions, ambiguities, etc… Half of the survey was an scale for Racial Microaggressions developed by scholars in the field.

        About 1,000 students answered all of the questions. Almost 300 of them were students of color, and based on several statistical tests, and controlled variables, we concluded:

        According to data from the Student Diversity Experience Survey: 65% of Black or African American, 43.75% of Hispanic or Latina/o, 40% of Asian, 28.99% of Mixed Race, and 14.29% of Nonresident or resident alien students at Wheaton college report experiencing a combination of 30 racial micro aggressions more than “A little/rarely” … compared to 4.90% of white or Caucasian students.

        We didn’t publish the study, (yet) but you could see the list of racial micro aggressions that were included in the survey. Students were listed in the survey.

        Also, If you are unfamiliar with the term “microaggression” visit: http://www.microaggressions.com/context/race/

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