We already have Black History Month in February, National Hispanic Heritage Month in the fall, Asian Heritage Month in May, Native American Heritage Month in November and Cheese Heritage Month in January. (Okay… I made up that last one, but January 20th actually is Cheese Appreciation Day.) Does it sound like something is missing from that list? If you guessed some sort of heritage festival for Caucasians give yourself a cookie. But fear not! Out in Oregon (where else?) Portland Community College is jumping in to fill this vacuum with “Whiteness History Month” in April. That sounds really great! Let’s see what they’ve got planned. (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.”
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.”
You know, maybe my reading comprehension isn’t quite as great as I’d once thought, but that doesn’t really sound like much of a celebration to me.
And of course, it’s not. The college’s website goes to great pains to explain that it’s not a celebration, but 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.” If you made it all the way through that jumble of SJW word salad you’re better at this than me. Small wonder that Campus Reform chose to refer to it as an entire month of ‘whiteness’-shaming.
This sounds suspiciously like some courses being offered at other schools which deal with The Problem of Whiteness. (Now once again available at the University of Arizona.) The basic premise seems to be pretty straight forward when you read the college’s web page dedicated to this project. The problem isn’t racism or racists or people behaving badly, you see. In the end it all comes down to the curse of being white and all of the genetically inherited problems that apparently entails. If you choose to take part in this exciting adventure (their description, not mine) you will hopefully learn the answers to exciting questions, such as:
- What is whiteness and how is it socially constructed?
- In what ways has whiteness been institutionalized, imposed and internalized?
- In what ways does whiteness emerge from a legacy of imperialism, conquest, colonialism and the American enterprise?
I’d normally conclude with some sort of closing narrative or lesson that can be taken from our story. But today I’m left with little more than… I’m not saying it’s time to burn down the universities, but…