That Time Dr. Beverly Tatum Shared A Perfect Example Of White Privilege

Dr. Beverly Tatum (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

It's not every day you're able to find a concrete and distilled "intellectual" example of White privilege (WP). Other examples are easier to find, but this particular brand of WP is as elusive as a fart in a cyclone. You don't know exactly where it came from. But you can smell it.

That said, I have to thank Spelman College president Dr. Beverly Tatum who, in a recent interview with TIME Magazine, revealed the following WP nugget.

I had a really interesting conversation with a white male educator and he asked me about the relevance (of HBCUs). He went to an Ivy League school and said he would have really benefitted from having women like the women who choose Spelman at my college. He said that would have really benefitted his education. I understood what he was saying, but he failed to realize the privilege in his statement. The parent who writes that check for their daughter to go to college is not thinking, “she’s going to help someone else get a good education.” They’re writing that check because this is the best possible experience for their daughter. And one of the benefits for American higher education is that there are a lot of different schools to choose from. If that guy really wanted access to smart, Spelman women he could have enrolled at Morehouse. [laughs].


In summary, an educator — an Ivy-educated educator who's probably teaching at a high-ranking and/or prestigious school — actually said out of his own actual mouth that HBCUs should close because, since HBCUs had/have some smart Black women there, there weren't enough Black women around at his school to help his personal education.

This…this is so WP that it's actually kind of beautiful. I think I just shed a tear.

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About the author

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB and a columnist for His debut memoir in essays, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins), is available for preorder.