This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: HANNITY: Amidst massive budget cuts, some of America's public schools are still managing to find the money for some outrageous enterprises.
Now Minnesota's school district just laid off 94 teachers when its budget was cut by $7 million. But according to the St. Paul Star Tribune, the same school district spent your tax dollars to send a delegation of teachers at the cost of $160 per teacher to a "White Privilege" Conference -- it begins in Minneapolis today.
Now according to the conference website, the "White Privilege" Conference is, quote, "a conference built on the premise that the U.S. was started by white people for white people."
According to the conference's founder and director he wants everybody to attend conference to learn that, quote, "white supremacy, white privilege, racism and other forms of oppression are designed for your destruction, designed to kill you.
"What I want this conference to help people of color to understand is how that system works. How it can create little bitty things that add up that cause hypertension, that cause you to eat unhealthy or not exercise."
Well, that's instructive.
Joining me with reaction to this outrageous use of your tax dollars, the national spokesman for the Council on Racial Equality Niger Innis and Bucknell University Professor James Peterson.
Niger, you know, our kids in many cities and school districts can't read, can't write, can't do math. The level of education is not up to par especially when we put it on the world standard stage. When you are laying off all of these teachers, is this an appropriate use of funds?
NIGER INNIS, CORE NATIOANL SPOKESMAN: Absolutely not. It is absurd, it is disgusting, it's outrageous and it's a mis-education of our children.
You know, Sean, Blacks and Latinos around the country lag behind in grad rates of not only whites, but of Asian-Americans, people of color, another people of color, Asian-Americans.
We lag behind in Minnesota, Minnesota the African-American graduation rate is one of the worst in the state -- in the state of union is Minnesota. They can't think of anything better than to mis-educate and create a phenomenon of victimization and what I call a neosegregation of forcing blacks and Latinos to think of themselves as the other. That this country is not theirs. That they don't have the ability and the right to strive to kick, fight and scream and struggle like every other American does. This promotes victimization. It's a mis-education of our children. It's a gross injustice.
HANNITY: Mr. Peterson, they just laid off 94 teachers. They had to cut the budget by $7 million. I believe every child has great talent. The word education is from the Latin to bring forth from within. We are spending money on a conference. Do you think this is an appropriate use of tax dollars?
JAMES PETERSON, BUCKNELL UNIVERSITY: Well, the use of the tax dollars are actually to raise awareness for the teachers about white privilege and although I respect Niger, I just don't agree with him here.
If you look at things like gender, privilege or class privilege maybe it's easier to see, but the bottom line is when you look at public education, criminal justice system and health care, we can clearly see that there is such a thing as white privilege.
Listen, this is not indicting any individual white person, this is just to say that if you are black, you have to have different concerns about the criminal justice system -- let me finish my point.
HANNITY: Wait a minute, you're a professor. You are not answering my question.
PETERSON: I am answering your question.
HANNITY: So why don't we address my question? My point, they just laid off 94 teachers.
PETERSON: I heard your point.
HANNITY: Hang on, we have a limited budget. We have kids often times leaving school districts not able to read, write and do math. So they lay teachers and then they pay for all these other teachers to go to this conference. Do you think that's an appropriate and wise use of limited money?
PETERSON: Listen, there are various ways --
HANNITY: Do you?
PETERSON: Yes, I do, because white privilege does exist and we need our teachers to understand that. Listen, the vast majority of white folk across this country do not have the same kind of concerns in our public educational system as students of color.
They are not tracked in the same ways. They are not discriminated against the same ways and the curriculum doesn't represent them or misrepresent them in the same way. You can be a white student sometimes and not to have the same kind of concerns that students of color have. It's as simple as that.
INNIS: Well, I would recommend if this conference wanted to do a service, they should call it white and yellow privilege because Asian-American kids are out-performing not only the average, but the average white kid, too.
So obviously, this privilege exists for whites and Asian-American kids. You can go to any district in this country and the poorest school districts and you will see the valedictorians are sometimes first generation or second generation kids from Asia, from India, from China, from other parts of Asia.
PETERSON: Good point, but a separate issue.
INNIS: Because they have a culture that promotes education. They don't have people trying to feed them nonsense --
HANNITY: One at a time.
PETERSON: This is the same way black and brown people are discriminated against.
INNIS: They are people of color too. They are not Europeans.
PETERSON: Their history in this country is quite different.
HANNITY: Hang on. Let me bring this point up. How is it that if somebody faces discrimination how is it that, as this piece says, it causes them hypertension, causes them to eat in a way that's unhealthy, causes people not to exercise. Isn't that predicated on an idea that individuals are not responsible for their own behavior in some way?
PETERSON: I am all for individual responsibility, but if you look at the arc of history of the relationship between health care and public health and African-Americans, you can see that there are various cases in which African-American folk have been alienated from health care and that is not just the economic piece of it, that's cultural and social piece of it. So we have to repair that --
HANNITY: But people make decisions about eating and about exercise.
PETERSON: We have to repair that first before we can say there's a level playing field from which we can engage here.