Politics & Policy

Taxpayers Pony Up for White Privilege Conference

Maybe this is a way of paying reparations?

The 15th annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) will come to Madison, Wis., late this March, and Wisconsin taxpayers are being forced to foot a heavy portion of the bill. Educators, school faculty members, nonprofit staff, students, and others are expected to attend the conference, which will be partly funded by municipal coffers, public universities, and hotel-tax revenue.

Funding for the conference comes from a diverse set of sources: The conference will receive $18,375 from hotel-tax revenue fund used to bring organizations to the local Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. To co-sponsor the event, the city of Madison will pay $1,500 and the University of Wisconsin Eat Claire is paying $2,000. The publicly funded Madison Area Technical College will also co-sponsor the event.

Adam Tobias of Wisconsin Reporter, a Watchdog.org publication, estimates that a teacher will pay at least $690 to attend the WPC, while a single administrator or faculty member could pay more than $850. Though the number of attendees remains uncertain, a venue hosting several breakout sessions in the conference — the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club — is expecting close to 2,000 guests and the WPC claims to have more than 1,500 attendees each year.

Taxpayers will also incur costs paying substitute teachers to fill in for absent educators at the four-day long conference that runs from Wednesday, March 26, to Saturday, March 29. Outside of taxpayer funding, the WPC depends on donations and fees. Registration for the entire conference can cost from $195 for a college student to $440 for a corporate attendee.

The conference, which began in 1999, takes place annually and has been hosted in cities across the nation. The WPC has taken place in Mt. Vernon, Iowa; St. Louis, Mo.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and other towns. It is a self-described “conference that examines challenging concepts of privilege and oppression” that “is not designed to attack, degrade, or beat up on white folks.”

The 2011 conference in Colorado Springs was meant to support the “ongoing work to dismantle this system of white supremacy, white privilege, and oppression.”

Over the course of four days, attendees can attend speeches, dinners, films, and over 100 workshops. Some highlights of the festivities include workshops entitled “Black Wallstreet: The Genocide, Gentrification, & Urban Cleansing of Prominent Economic Cities and Townships” and “Examining White Privilege and Economics in the Elementary Classroom.”

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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