Portland Community College plans 'Whiteness History Month'

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PORTLAND, OR — Portland Community College in Oregon is setting aside the month of April for “Whiteness History Month” as a time to look at what it means to be white and what privileges that whiteness affords.

Portland Community College’s Diversity Council said that the project is a “bold adventure” meant to examine “race and racism through an exploration of the construction of whiteness, its origins and heritage.” It is not meant as a “celebratory endeavor” but 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,” a definition on the school’s event page reads.

According to NBC, he project, which “seeks to inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism,” will challenge its students with questions like:

  • What is whiteness and how is it socially constructed?
  • In what ways does whiteness emerge from a legacy of imperialism, conquest, colonialism and the American enterprise?
  • Who benefits from the consequences of whiteness? Who loses from whiteness? How?
  • What are approaches and strategies to dismantling whiteness?

Already, the project has drawn negative criticism, with some calling it a “shaming” project.

The school’s interim president Sylvia Kelley dismissed the criticism, saying there was “no intention, as some may have feared, to ‘shame or blame’ anyone.”