Portland Community College has decided to focus on “whiteness” for the entire month of April, but not in an ethnic heritage or celebratory sort of way. No, they’ve decided to focus on shaming all that paleness.
Oregon has long been known as one of the most liberal states in the country, so it’s really no surprise that any type of social justice rhetoric comes from its learning institutions. This so-called “bold adventure” isn’t a companion to Black History Month, though, but an attempt to change attitudes toward “whiteness”, and not in a positive, let’s-learn-and-grow-together sort of way.
As stated on the Portland Community College website (emphasis theirs):
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.
…the project seeks to inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism.
Then PCC expands their description:
Whiteness History Month Project, unlike heritage months, is not a celebratory endeavor, it is an effort to change our campus climate.
It’s probably too much to ask, and too bold an idea in 2016, but can’t we just focus on the content of a person’s character rather than the color of their skin? I seem to remember someone sharing their dream for that reality. I don’t believe anyone should be ashamed of the skin color they were born with, whether that be darker or lighter than another person’s, for each life is precious and created with purpose. But a must for liberalism to thrive is a continual focus on what they consider to be the negative aspects of the natural inequality which inhabits gender and race. Without the oppressed and an oppressor, liberal social justice warriors cannot ride in to save the day.
This is not to say that racial division, and actual racism, doesn’t exist in the United States. Obviously, it does, and unfortunately, it always will. But focusing on “whiteness” as if it’s a four letter word that someone dared to present? This does nothing to change the on-campus or off-campus climate for the better. If anything, it will make the on-campus climate worse by shaming individuals who – gasp! – dare to be white.
And before you think pale me is taking this reaction too far, just look at some of the questions, also found at the PCC site, which should be/will be asked during this month-long exercise:
What are approaches and strategies to dismantling whiteness?
Who benefits from the consequences of whiteness?
What are the roles and responsibilities of white people and people of color in dismantling whiteness?
What is the legacy of social justice? How can this legacy inform the work of racial equality?
In an era when there is actual resistance to the phrase “All Lives Matter”, this display by the Portland college is nothing but harmful. Both white culture and black culture should be celebrated for their distinct nature. Yes, a deeper knowledge of the traditions and history of any people group is positive. But searching for answers to questions of how to “dismantle” whiteness shows exactly what social justice warriors want. A blaming and shaming of whites and “whiteness” in 2016, regardless of involvement in sins of centuries past.