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.