- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2016

Soldiers in the U.S. Army were subjected to a presentation on “white privilege” last April, during which they were told that American society “attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual” and were told it was their job to do something about it.

Documents obtained from the Army through a Freedom of Information Action request made by Judicial Watch revealed a “Power and Privilege” PowerPoint slideshow included in a diversity training briefing that was presented to 400 soldiers in the 67th Signal Battalion at Fort Gordon in April 2015.

The slideshow informed soldiers that “Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do. Privilege has become one of those loaded words we need to reclaim so that we can use it to name and illuminate the truth.”

Soldiers were also taught that such privilege results in a “yawning divide in levels of income, wealth, dignity, safety, health and quality of life [and] promotes fear, suspicion, discrimination, harassment, and violence.”

The slideshow described a hypothetical story about an African woman to demonstrate how the United States is “organized according to race.”

“Consider the ‘black woman’ in Africa who has not experienced white racism and does not identify herself as a ‘black woman.’ African, a woman, but not black. She only became ‘black’ when she came to the U.S. where privilege is organized according to race, where she is assigned to a social category that bears that name, and she is treated differently as a result,” the slideshow read.

Then the slideshow instructed “privileged” soldiers it was their responsibility to do something about the issue.

“The trouble we’re in can’t be solved unless the ‘privileged’ make the problem of privilege their problem and do something about it. The fact that it’s so easy for me and other people in dominant groups not to do this is the single most powerful barrier to change,” the presentation concluded.

The “Power and Privilege” slideshow made waves last year after one slide titled “The luxury of obliviousness” was posted on Facebook, inviting a slew of negative comments.

That slide posed that “Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African-Americans or to how white privilege affects them.” 

A spokeswoman for the Army responded to the outrage last April by saying that the slide was inappropriately shown to soldiers and that the diversity briefing was not officially authorized.

“The unit [Equal Opportunity] instructor deviated from the authorized topic and content which was provided,” Army spokeswoman Capt. Lindsay Roman said at the time. “To prevent further instances, all unit instructors will receive additional training on the importance of following Army EO training requirements.”

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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