Professor Angela Putnam believes that meritocracy is a white fiction and that the patriarchy is also likely to blame.
Putnam, an assistant professor at Penn State-Brandywine, believes that white people are “socialized to believe that we got to where we are” because of “individual effort.” She strives to rid her students of this delusion.
“Meritocracy,” she believes, is a lie, and her white students are benefiting from systemic racism. By some shadowy, malicious, and almost certainly capitalist form of sorcery, this oppression fills their massive coffers. Of course, Putnam provides no evidence of systemic racism; in fact, her pedagogy seems to omit some uncomfortable details. For example, Asian Americans reported a higher median income than whites in 2012.
Admittedly, Putnam’s specialty is qualitative, not quantitative, research. Her dissertation, “Interrupting The Silence: A Critical Discourse Analysis of a Pilot Seminar on Racism, Intersectionality, and White Privilege, grew out of a three-day seminar on white privilege and a subsequent survey of students. For Putnam, a simple survey was adequate proof of “systemic racism.” In a way, her methodology is similar to that of Professor Breanne Fahs, who rigorously investigated obesity by asking some women questions.
White people’s very existence is racist?
Putnam’s website is a veritable treasure trove for those interested in checking their privilege. She links to articles on white and male privilege, color-blind racism, white people’s bad tempers, and an article by Audre Lorde. Interestingly, Putnam misspells her name (“Audrey Lorde”). Lorde was a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and current darling of the feminist movement.
Additionally, Putnam’s website features a handy list on how, exactly, to check one’s privilege. She encourages her followers to interrogate their “language” and “assumptions,” down to what they “like” on “social media.” She also “[encourages]” whites to protest, but only if they are “willing to be arrested.” Indeed, white people should “[force] officers to arrest them first.”
Perhaps Linwood Kaine, Tim Kaine’s son, was given similar advice. He will soon face trial for violently disrupting a pro-Trump rally in St. Paul, Minnesota.