For the Education of White Girls

In 1891, the state of Texas established the Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls of the State of Texas in the Arts and Sciences.  Located in the city of Denton, north of Dallas, the Industrial Institute is today known as Texas Woman’s College.  This was the female counterpart of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, which the state legislature had established twenty years earlier, and which today goes under the name of Texas A&M University.

In the words of the enabling legislation, the Industrial Institute was intended as a place where white girls could acquire

“a thorough normal education, together with a knowledge of kindergarten instruction, together with a knowledge of telegraphy, stenography, and photography; also a knowledge of fancy, practical and general needle work, and also a knowledge of bookkeeping, with such other practical industries as may from time to time . . . be suggested by experience [as] fitting such girls for the practical industries of the age.”

Needless to say, much has changed since these lines were written.  TWU was integrated in 1961 and matriculated men in 1994.  But what interests me today is how “the practical industries of the age” have changed.

This is because I just received an e-mail from a doctoral student at TWU, inviting me to participate in her dissertation research.  She is proposing to write a dissertation entitled,

“A Qualitative Exploration of Women-of-Color Professional Academic Advisors’ Perceptions and Experiences,”

and to present in this dissertation more or less what the title promises.

Now, academic advising is certainly one of the “practical industries of the age,” so this dissertation might be said to roughly align with the intentions of those old legislators.  I daresay they would not be happy if they looked into what is nowadays meant by “a qualitative exploration,” but one could, perhaps, put their minds at ease by explaining that it is the “fancy needle work” of the twenty-first century.

What would really baffle those old legislators is that phrase “women-of-color,” and this not only, or even primarily, because they thought they had established the Industrial Institute “for the education of white girls.”  As the doctoral candidate explains, to participate in her study, one must

self-identify as a Woman of Color.”

Or, rather, one must self-identify with the definition of Woman of Color that the doctoral student helpfully provides.  She begins by explaining that Woman of Color is

“an inclusive term for non-White women (e.g. cisgender women, transgender women, gender nonconforming persons who for professional reasons may find this language most appropriate).”

In other words, she will accept you as a woman if you present yourself to coworkers and students as a woman. You may be an actual, honest-to-god woman, or a man who believes he is a woman, or a man who knows he is a man but pretends to be a woman “for professional reasons.”  It’s all good.  But you had better not be one of them “white girls.”

The doctoral student goes on to explain that to be “of Color,” one must have been (personally or by legacy) on the receiving end of

“oppression at the intersection of race, class, and gender/identity expression in relation to European-based cultures.”

I don’t think one is required to tick the “class” box, since that would mean someone like Oprah Winfrey is not a Woman of Color; and we have already seen what “gender/identity expression” means.  But race is non-negotiable.  You had better not be one of them “white girls.”  You can be anything else, really.  Just not one of them “white girls.”

Lest the qualifier “non-White women” scare off some authentic Women of Color, the doctoral student provides “a few examples of how Women of Color might identify themselves.”  These

“include: Black, Latina, Asian-American, Bi-racial, Hispanic, Native American, African American, Multi-ethnic, Indigenous, Asian, Arab American, Multi-Racial, Jewish, and so on.”

The examples are, in fact, limited to those you see in this list, but when it comes to the actual identities, the category Women of Color obviously includes many, many more. In fact, with the exception of “white girls,” it includes just about any sort of woman you can imagine (along with a few men).

This seems to me a very fine thing.  After all, what could be more advantageous in “the education of white girls” than to lean that all the girls are going to be invited to a big party.  All the girls, that is, except them.

18 thoughts on “For the Education of White Girls

  1. Pingback: For the Education of White Girls | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: For the Education of White Girls | Reaction Times

  3. What would really baffle those old legislators is that phrase “women-of-color,” and this not only, or even primarily, because they thought they had established the Industrial Institute “for the education of white girls.”

    Well, you know what Hamilton said:

    What signifies a declaration [providing for the establishment of an institution for the education of white girls]? What is [a “white girl”; what is a “girl”]? Who can give it any definition which would not leave the utmost latitude for evasion?

  4. It seems relevant to ask the race of the doctoral student. When white men and women expound on their hatred for their own race suicide (on their part) seems called for preceded by resignation so a nice person of color can take his or her place in the university hierarchy. Perhaps their chairs could be jury-rigged to send their occupants into the void once the relevant computer-keyboard strokes are entered, or mass-email sent. Of course, allowances would have to be made for those merely commenting negatively on such activities.

  5. I did not look into it (until just now) because I want to leave the individual out of it. PhD students are not responsible for their own thoughts (I’m sorry to say). Having now looked into it, I see that I was misled by an androgynous first name. The student is male, and apparently homosexual. That the student is Black I had suspected from that word appearing first on his list of examples, and here I was not mistaken. The student’s Linked in profile is a wonder, announcing, for instance, a research interest in “LGBTQII2SAAPP+.”

    Anti-white Whites are a curious phenomena. Some of them are grifters, and many are conformists who do not think for two minutes about the words that come out of their mouth. And some, of course, are true believers. Skinheads call such people “race traitors,” and in doing so may show more insight than is usual. The logic of the traitor is that his survival is justified so long as he “takes out” more than one of his former compatriots. There is no reason to quit your job if staying allows you to fire dozens.

    I’ve often thought the a principled pessimist philosopher should commit suicide. But then I saw that a pessimist philosopher can reduce the sum of suffering more if he persuades >2 other people to commit suicide.

    • A Google search on LGBTQII2SAAPP+ turns up:
      “Elia Tamplin – Graduate Assistant – TWU Pioneer Center For Student Excellence”
      Best edit to avoid a court case…

      • I hope you’re wrong, but privacy has become an elusive concept. I would say that the original e-mail was “published,” since it was distributed through a large and promiscuous mailing list of which I am part. Even so, I showed some solicitude for the author’s privacy. As you found, Google searches make it very hard not to dox a writer who has not surrounded himself with a forcefield of anonymity.

      • I hope I’m wrong too
        My Google search was not in order to identify him/her/it. I just wanted to know what the alphabet soup signified.

      • It is some relief to learn that that particular alphabet soup was singular enough to pop out of a Google search. Of course it might represent the cultural vanguard, and so be tomorrow’s norm.

      • I hope I’m wrong too
        My Google search was not in order to identify him/her/it. I just wanted to know what the alphabet soup signified.

        I had the same thought, but then thought better of it. Some certain things I really don’t care to know, if you catch my drift (I can guess, and get close enough).
        In any case, I don’t think there is any real need of worrying of an impending lawsuit in this particular case. I might be wrong, of course, but if I am I should think Prof. Smith is in danger of having *numerous* lawsuits filed against him upon the same bases.

      • Privacy is certainly elusive these days. Kids freely post details online that the Stasis spent fortunes trying to acquire
        They seem to love their chains.

      • Privacy was effectually terminated in January of 1973. And it’s a simple matter of “progression” (quoted due disputed definition) that with the passage of time the death of privacy should be increasingly tolerated as something that never really was and so only social rejects mourn what is not.

  6. ‘You have probably read the following…’
    I hadn’t, but thanks for the link.
    Bentham shows that while anyone can be silly,
    philosophers can be sillier than anyone else.

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