Video: African-American instructor speaks out after white students file racial-discrimination complaint

An instructor at a Minnesota community college has been reprimanded for highlighting white privilege in class.

English teacher Shannon Gibney has spoken out in the video below about the incident at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

"I was in the middle of speaking when I had a young white man in the class interrupt me and ask, 'Why do we have to talk about this in every class? Why do we have to talk about this?'," Gibney said. "I was shocked." 

She added that his remarks weren't made in a calm manner.

"His whole demeanour was very defensive, and he was taking it personally," Gibney recalled. "I tried to explain, of course, in a reasonable manner—as reasonable as I could, given the fact that I was being interrupted and put on the spot in the middle of the class—that this is unfortunately the context of 21st-century America."

Another white student chimed in with his concerns, according to Gibney.

She told the two white students that this wasn't a "personal attack" and she wasn't talking about all white people, rather about "whiteness as a system of oppression".

Eventually, she told the students that if they had a problem, they could file a racial-harassment discrimination complaint with the college's legal-affairs department.

The vice president of academic affairs, Lois Bollman, later sent a letter of reprimand to Gibney.

"Shannon, I find it troubling that the manner in which you led a discussion on the very important topic of structural racism alienated two students who may have been most in need of learning about this subject," Bollman declared in the letter. "While I believe it was your intention to discuss structural racism generally, it was inappropriate for you to single out white male students in class."

Bollman claimed in her letter that this "caused them embarrassment and created a hostile learning environment".

Gibney said that "one of the key pieces of redress" is for her have to one-on-one sessions with the diversity director.

She also alleged in the video that this wasn't the first time she had experienced "multiple verbal and institutional attacks by white males, whether they were students, faculty, administration, or staff".

Gibney has joined a class-action lawsuit with six other employees of colour against the college.

Comments (12) Add New Comment
Les
He was taking racist comments against his race, personally?! YA. DON'T. SAY. And how much privilege do all the barefoot impoverished people in the rural US have? Give me a break.
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Pedantic
I find it so amazing how the concerns of the two students are dismissed by the teacher and this article simply because of their race. It's disgusting.
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Garland
Typical reaction of the white person. The white people are of a conquering nature. Everything the the whiteman has he has taken from and enslaved other cultures, now he wants to cry racism after the cultural numbers have some power against him. How is it that someone with questionable integrity always question someone else's integrity. The truth hurts,your fore fathers layed the road now walk it and quit crying in your hypocrisy......racism from a white man or person is like germans saying the jewish made us try to kill the whole race! White Devils!
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Buncha whiners
Take the criticism with some humility and learn, rather than feeling all hurt and defensive.
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RUK
Speaking of "very defensive" and "taking it personally," what is the correct adjective to describe a person who takes to YouTube to make what they believe to be a version of an event that led to a reprimand?

I call it "soon to be unemployed"!
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Alan Layton
I'm glad the students stood up for themselves and called this for what it is - racial discrimination.
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Billy Bryels
I am convinced a great deal of white America is desprately trying to rewrite history. White males are absolutly responsible for RACISM in America. If the shoe fits. The studeents don't seem to want to take responsibility for the TRUTH of America's history. God bless America.
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ZimbaZumba
The adding of the caveats "Structural" or "Institutionalism" onto Racism and Sexism is a rhetoric ploy to excuse Sexist statements about Men and Racist statements about Whites. It is more despicable than the very thing being complained about and allows the speaker to avoid personal responsibility for their words towards those they address.

The very same ploy can be used with any form of hate speech and is an excuse for thinly veiled bigotry. Thankfully someone had the fortitude to stand up this bully.

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lester
Garland, your comments who yourself to be the racist, the bigot and the one who wants to dominate. You should also learn a bit about the world. White people weren't the ony ones to enslave people. But who cares about that, right? You're busy justifying your racist views.
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lester
And BTW, the very fact the Straight will allow "White devils" on their site shows you the disgusting double standard. Why should I as a white man give a CRAP about racial equality anymore when it's clear there's a massive double standard going on?
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I'm white and think the professor was right.
Why are people (who I assume are white) on this comment forum siding with the students? Learning about institutional racism is NOT racist! I'm a white male and believe the professor was teaching what decades of fact-based research shows.

The white people who are offended by learning about history/reality probably need to spend some time learning about history/reality.
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I have no problem with learning about institutional racism
What I have a problem with is an obviously racist teacher teaching it. You see the way she refers to them as "white males" with venom. This woman is a racist and incapable of teaching the subject without inflaming tensions, that's her fault...not the students'.
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