Chicago Theological Seminary Offers ‘White Privilege Glasses’

ashley.rae | February 2, 2016
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 “White Privilege Glasses” offered by the Chicago Theological Seminary allow white people the chance to see what only black people can allegedly see, such as women clutching bags on crowded streets, store owners eyeing their customers, and alleged discrimination by the police.

In order to advance the school’s “mission” to “work towards greater social justice,” CTS created a video to “shine the light on White Privilege.”

The video features a bumbling white guy who protests, “I don’t know. White privilege? I just don’t see it” when sitting across from a black couple. The couple exchanges a knowing glance and gives the white man a pair of “white privilege glasses” so he can “see the world the way [they] do.”

After putting on the glasses, the white guy's vision is transformed:

  • A nodding woman now grabs her purse,
  • Jefferson Street and Washington Street now turn into “Slave Owner” and “Slave Owner,”
  • A friendly shop keeper is no longer happy, and
  • A smiling police officer becomes poised to strike a random person out of nowhere.

The video encourages people to “come in for your free pair of glasses.”


The website for the school’s White Privilege Glasses project states, “We believe the racial divide will only change when the collective ‘we’ understand the concept of privilege and begin to identify and correct the systems that advantage one group over the other.”

The website features a shop where people can buy white privilege-related items, such $15 shirts that read, “IF YOU DON’T THINK RACISM EXISTS YOU’RE WHITE” and “RACISM SEXISM BIGOTRY HATRED INJUSTICE. Sometimes your faith is defined by what you DON’T believe in.

A “conversation starter kit” can also be purchased for $50. It includes a discussion guide, three t-shirts, 10 pairs of white privilege glasses, 10 stickers, and flyers and posters.

For those who don’t want to shell out $50 for an entire kit, the White Privilege Glasses discussion guide instructs white people to conduct a “White Privilege Audit” and count how many black friends they have.

The guide directs people to “Look at the pictures hanging on the walls of your home. Who is represented in your personal photographs? In paintings? Who are the artists? Do they reflect various races?”

The White Privilege Glasses discussion guide also encourages people to “Start The Discussion” by blaming white people and white privilege for things like drugs and crime. It asks people to answer questions such as:

  • How are issues like education, healthcare, poverty, housing, and economic status related to White Privilege?
  • How are societal challenges like drugs, crime, failing schools, high drop out rates, and food deserts related to White Privilege?

The school hopes the video will cause people to start “thinking, talking … acting.”

“This is all part of CTS’s effort to take a greater role at the forefront of social activism. It is about becoming an actual voice in the national dialogue and championing important, urgent issues,” the school website reads.

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