Mark your calendars!
A subcommittee of Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus Diversity Council has declared April 2016 Whiteness History Month. They hope to, “inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism.” According to Oregon Live, Whiteness History Month is the brainchild of PCC faculty and staff.
Different from other heritage months, Whiteness History Month is not a celebration though. It’s all about social constructs, racism, and multiculturalism. Or something:
The Project seeks to challenge the master narrative of race and racism through an exploration of the social construction of whiteness. Challenging the master narrative of traditional curriculum is a strategy within higher education that promotes multicultural education and equity.
The event’s Statement of Purpose could’ve been penned by Rachel Dolezal.
“Whiteness is a state of consciousness,” and not about the color of skin, they contend. Skin color? That’s just plain ol’ “white.”
Whiteness is a socially and politically constructed behavior. It has a long history in European imperialism and epistemologies. Whiteness does not simply refer to skin color but an ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviors, habits and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin color. Whiteness represents a position of power where the power holder defines social categories and reality—the master narrator. Whiteness originates racism. It is relational. “White” only exists in relation/opposition to other categories in the racial hierarchy produced by whiteness. Whiteness is a state of consciousness, often invisible, shaping how white people view themselves and others and thus perpetuating ignorance throughout communities. Cultural racism is founded in the belief that “whiteness” is the universal…and allows one to think and speak as if Whiteness described and defined the world. The meaning of whiteness is historical and has shifted over time.
Whiteness, you see, is/was all about institutionalizing “white supremacy”:
“Whiteness” as an ideology derives from the historical practice of institutionalizing “white supremacy.” Beginning in at least the seventeenth century, “white” appeared as a legal term and social designator determining social and political rights. Eventually it was used widely to decide who could vote or be enslaved or be a citizen, who could attend which schools and churches, who could marry whom, and who could drink from which water fountain. These and thousands of other legal and social regulations were built upon the fiction of a superior “white” race deserving special privileges and protections.
I don’t know about you, but devoting an entire month to discussing whiteness sure sounds like a great time! I bet they have all kinds of fun activities planned, too. Like these Essential Questions:
More than 90,000 students attend PCC.
Interestingly, when Dolezal said, “whiteness is a state of mind,” during a daytime talk show, she was promptly shut down by the hostess who argued whiteness was race:
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