"Whiteness History Month" will prompt students at an Oregon community college to examine so-called white privilege this April, but many critics say it amounts to "white-shaming."
The event was organized by the Diversity Council at Portland Community College, and bills itself as a "bold adventure" that is "not a celebratory endeavor" but rather an "effort to change our campus climate."
"Whiteness refers to the construction of the white race, white culture, and the system of privileges and advantages afforded to white people," says the school's event page
Overarching questions for the month-long event include, "In what ways does whiteness emerge from a legacy of imperialism, conquest, colonialism, and the American enterprise?" as well as "What are approaches and strategies to dismantling whiteness?"
Kate Chester, PCC spokeswoman, acknowledged that the planned discussion is bound to be "complex."
"It’s complex, and people can latch onto 'white' instead of 'whiteness,' and it can become personalized and polarized," she said, according to The Washington Post
. "So it’s complex. It’s controversial. It’s a sensitive issue."
She added that it is not intended to "shame or blame" anyone.
The Post reported in 2003 that at least 30 institutions of higher learning taught whiteness-studies course work. That figure is likely to have increased in the years since.
"Black studies celebrates blackness, Chicano studies celebrates Chicanos, women’s studies celebrates women, and white studies attacks white people as evil," David Horowitz, a critic, told The Post in 2003.
USA Today noted
that other critics have called it "Hate Whitey Month."
A schedule of events is expected to be released in the coming weeks. Until then, the diversity committee is accepting proposals on its website.
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