The contest, put on by the town’s diversity council, asks students to describe the impact white privilege has had on their lives, using a term that refers generally to advantages conferred automatically to whites, and not to minorities. The concept has moved into the mainstream as the nation has discussed race more openly.
“There’s a lot more controversy around it than many of us expected,” said Bailey, a retired IBM vice president who is black. “Just the fact it says ‘white’ and ‘privilege,’ for some people, that’s all they need to see, and all of a sudden, we’re race-baiting or trying to get people to feel guilty. That’s not at all what it’s about.”