White privilege and racial tension are serious problems on the TCU campus, the social work chairwoman said Wednesday.Linda Moore, professor and chairwoman of the Department of Social Work, spoke at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni and Visitors Center as part of the monthly inclusiveness luncheon held by Inclusiveness & Intercultural Services.
“You can feel isolated on this campus as a student of color because a lot of groups are not as welcome as others,” Moore said.
Moore said she has had several black students ask why white females step off the sidewalk or tighten their purse whenever a black male walks by. She said white people should put themselves in the shoes of others.
“You’re a good student. You work hard. You’ve come to college because you want to do good things for yourself,” Moore said. “But when you walk on a sidewalk on TCU, people don’t say hi, they revoke.”
Moore said whites are taught not to recognize white privilege, because they believe they can’t possibly be oppressors, when in fact they are. She also said racial tension is on the rise due to the amount of disparity between whites and other races, Moore said.
One of several disparities Moore pointed out was the difference between the percentages of white college graduates versus other races. Whites have a graduation rate of 35 percent, followed by blacks with a 17 percent rate, Hispanics with 15 percent and American Indians with 10 percent.
Moore said black students are less likely to finish college because of isolation. She added that this is a major problem on the TCU campus.
Other disparities include health, drug, missing person and hate crime rates, Moore said.
She said every hour, a hate crime is committed and every day, eight blacks, three whites, one Hispanic and three Jewish people are victims of hate crimes.
Moore said there should be no reason why blacks are victims almost three times more than whites.
“When white people think of oppression, they think of negative behavior by others, but not themselves,” Moore said.
Moore said white privilege teaches racism and only occurs in individual acts. Though a person may not use racial slurs or commit hate crimes, Moore said, they might still be committing racist acts.
“If you support a system that keeps another race out of an educational institution, or keeps them having a higher level of poverty or keeps them out of a health care system, it becomes white privilege,” Moore said.
In a study done recently by the New York Times, 80 percent of blacks believe they are worse off today than they were five years ago, and they don’t expect their lives to improve. Whites polled were twice as likely to think the lives of blacks have improved in the past five years, according to the study.
“The income gap has grown, poverty has increased and the black man’s income has declined,” Moore said. “So why do so many whites believe things are getting better?”
LaTanya Johns, assistant director for the center of professional communication in the Neeley School of Business, said she was not shocked by the statistics Moore presented, and little is being done about the situation.
“Things are not getting worse; they are staying the same,” Johns said. “But I don’t see it getting better.”
Marcia Hensley, assistant director for executive development in the Neeley School, said she has a black male friend who has suffered from stereotypes.
“Yesterday we were just talking about how people follow him around in the mall if he doesn’t dress up,” Hensley said. “He thinks it’s going to stay bad, but I think it’s going to get better.”
If people do not become open-minded and take action soon, Moore said, not only will other races be affected, whites will be too.
“If we keep silent, we keep equity incomplete, we infer dominance and protect stereotypes,” Moore said. “It doesn’t just distort the people we oppress; we distort ourselves too. It’s been 40 years since the big push. People should start feeling like things are getting better.