From Campus Reform
Portland Community College has designated April “Whiteness History Month” (WHM), an “educational project” exploring how the “construct of whiteness” creates racial inequality.
“‘Whiteness History Month: Context, Consequences, and Change’ is a multidisciplinary, district-wide, educational project examining race and racism through an exploration of the construction of whiteness, its origins, and heritage,” PCC states on its website. “Scheduled for the month of April 2016, the project seeks to inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism.”
The WHM site makes clear that the project is not a “celebratory endeavor” like heritage months, but is rather “an effort to change our campus climate” by “[challenging] the master narrative of race and racism through an exploration of the social construction of whiteness.” (“Challenging the master narrative,” PCC explains, “is a strategy within higher education that promotes multicultural education and equity.”)
The initiative was conceived by a subcommittee of PCC’s Cascade Campus Diversity Council, which noticed that “evidence from hiring data, student-led research, surveys, focus groups, college-wide emails, and other sources have illuminated the underlying reality of whiteness embedded in the overall college climate.” In response, the subcommittee decided that “intentional action” was necessary across the district’s four campuses to honor PCC’s strategic plan, which calls on the college to “create a nationally renowned culture for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
According to a sub-page defining the term (adapted from a definition developed by the University of Calgary), whiteness “does not simply refer to skin color[,] but [to] an ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviors, habits, and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin color.”
Not only does the concept of whiteness allow those who are “socially deemed white” to accrue benefits, the page asserts, but those benefits “are accrued at the expense of people of color, namely in how people of color are systemically and prejudicially denied equal access to those material benefits.”
The ideology of whiteness, it continues, dates back to “at least the seventeenth century, [when] ‘white’ appeared as a legal term and social designator determining social and political rights,” a concept that eventually grew to include “thousands” of “special privileges and protections” for white citizens. Read More