'Safe Space for White Students' Backfires at University of Maryland

Illustration for article titled 'Safe Space for White Students' Backfires at University of Maryland
Screenshot: CBS Philly

A counseling group for white students who feel nervous around people who dance on the beat and prefer seasoning was forced to rebrand itself after students at the University of Maryland objected to a flyer for a campus support group dedicated to discussing race.


...But only for white people.

“Do you want to improve your ability to relate and connect with people different from yourself?” the flyer asked. “Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable and confused before, during, or after interactions with racial minorities?”

The group, called “White Awake,” which sounds like it takes field trips to Charlottesville and teaches students how to properly ask a black woman if you could touch her box braids, was billed as a “safe space for white students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings,” reports the Diamondback, the school’s campus newspaper.

CBS Philly reports that the group was created by the school’s psychology department to help students “learn how they can fit in a diverse world.” But students immediately objected to the Division of Student Affairs program:

In response, the school promised to make radical changes... To the flyer.

“We agree with the feedback that the flyer was not clear enough in conveying the fact that the purpose of this group is to promote anti-racism and becoming a better ally,” the university said in a statement to the Baltimore Sun. “We didn’t choose the right words for the flyer, and we are going to incorporate the feedback we have received into a revision of it. Again, we will discontinue use of the current flyer.”


“The aim of this group is to help White students become more culturally competent, so they can better participate in creating a more inclusive environment at the University of Maryland. This group is based on research and best practices, and we believe in it,” said the University of Maryland’s Counseling Center.

The University stood behind the group in a statement, and the counseling center rebranded it as the “Anti-Racism and Ally Building Group,” according to the school’s website. While they didn’t say if they would put a “Whites Only” sign outside the door or allow colored people to drink out of the room’s water fountain during the Thursday meetings, the Negro-Free White Tears Weekly Meetup will continue.


I don’t understand why this is so controversial. I believe this is a very important initiative to help white people understand people different from themselves. If not for the University of Maryland’s support group, where else could white people go to talk to other white people about race?

Well, to be fair, I do know of one secret location where white people can talk about difficult subjects and how they feel about other races and ethnicities. If this support group fails, there’s only one other place I know where they can go to feel comfortable in a relatively secure safe space for white people.


It’s called “Everywhere.”

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.


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White folks really need to stop getting the idea that they are the best allies ever, because they seem to forget being an ally also means being vigorously and repeatedly challenged, questioned and not trusted. And there are no fucking headpats, cookies or chin rubbings.

The true allies have taken beatings, been smeared and often been murdered for standing up against racism, almost always without complaint and dare I say, actively avoiding or wanting praise for what they did. They saw an injustice and decided they weren’t going to let that shit fly, even when they knew it would blow back on them. To white folks who want to be real allies, leave it up to history to decide if you were a true ally or not and allow your actions to speak for themselves.