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Local Community Upset Over ‘White Privilege’ Essay Contest

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter

A town in Connecticut is not pleased with a recent student essay contest with the theme: “white privilege.”

Residents from the majority-white Westport, Connecticut have called the question offensive, reports the New York Post. Many have said that it incorrectly implies that race is important in the community.

“It’s an open town. There are no barricades here. Nobody says if you’re black or whatever, you can’t move here,” Bari Reiner, age 72, said.

One parent complained that it is a parent’s job to teach their children what privilege is.

“That would upset me very much. I wouldn’t go there,” Janet Samuels, a mother with adult children, said.

The essay contest, sponsored by the town’s diversity council, asks students to discuss how white privilege has impacted their personal lives. The term white privilege usually refers to “perks” or “advantages” that white people have that minorities may not.

The winner of the contest gets a $1,000 prize. The diversity council’s chairman said that people all over the world have begun chiming in on the essay topic.

“There’s a lot more controversy around it than many of us expected. Just the fact it says ‘white’ and ‘privilege,’ for some people that’s all they need to see, and all of a sudden we’re race-baiting or trying to get people to feel guilty,” Harold Bailey Jr. said. “That’s not at all what it’s about.”

The town started TEAM Westport, alternatively referred to as the “diversity council,” 10 years ago with the intent to cultivate more diversity.

Other parents have come out in favor of the essay topic, saying that it will show students that not every place is as wealthy as their town.

“I like the idea to get it out there so kids can talk about it and embrace it,” Bert Dovo, a father of two college students, said.

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