At Oregon State University, they’re trying to improve faculty perspective.
Hence, the school recently held a five-day seminar for its educators.
Conducted by Dr. Tenisha Tevis and Dr. Dwaine Plaza, the symposium was a multi-point exploration.
Its title, per Campus Reform: Confronting Systemic Whiteness.
As advertised on OSU’s site, the training built “on the tenets of the 2020 faculty senate pledge to [the school’s] Black students.”
As such, participation “[allowed] faculty to engage in issues of whiteness and systemic racism in the institution as well as more broadly in the United States.”
From the sound of things, whiteness is a weed:
Faculty will explore how whiteness in the United States has created systemic opportunities for some while naturalizing the exclusion of others.
The workshop’s webpage hails the Black Lives Matter movement:
This seminar responds to resistance and transformation movements associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. The opportunity for a high impact outcome is linked to timely delivery, one where white people are experiencing a greater awareness of systemic racism and are responding with a will to “do something.”
Dr. Dwaine is passionate about social justice.
[Dwaine’s] current research looks at STEM issues as they apply to disadvantaged populations that includes people of color and women. He became involved with the ADVANCE grant team because of his skills in research design and his passion for social justice and systemic discrimination.
As for Tenisha, the PhD-holder’s University of Michigan faculty page conveys the following:
Falling in love with statistics and having an improved understanding of raced-based outcomes, she pursued a position to be a research analyst for a research center focused on delinquency, crime, and education, before pursing her PhD in Education. …
She has illuminated the systemic tensions Students of Color, Students with Disabilities, and First-year students have to overcome during their transition to and navigation of college. She has also shed light on the confluence of administrative leadership and identity, exploring the role Whiteness plays in higher education administration; having co-developed a revolutionary approach to studying leadership education; and co-conceptualized a anti-racist leadership framework for higher education.
Where race is concerned, society’s in a curious place.
While institutions are battling “whiteness,” they’re fighting “anti-blackness”:
Back to OSU, the training aimed at enabling faculty to do five things:
- Describe how the endemic nature of White supremacy, particularly in US society has created persistent systemic Whiteness
- Recognize how systemic Whiteness impacts individuals regardless of their intent or behavior
- Explain that it is the social constructions of Whiteness that are problematic, not individuals with White identities
- Recognize that anti-Blackness permeates US society and significantly impacts the lived experience and outcomes for Black students, staff, and faculty
- Openly and effectively discuss issues of race and racism
It seems to me America has been pitted against itself. We’re told black people are threatened by whiteness. And we’re being separated into white and nonwhite (AKA “people of color”).
What will be the results?
Whatever they are, I can’t imagine unity will top the list.
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