Artist and lecturer  Peggy Diggs has conceived of an interesting public project for “Claiming Williams”. 

Called “‘Face,’ the project refers to wiping the face, talking face to face, saving face,” explained artist Peggy Diggs, who conceived of the event. Diggs has conceived of a number of public art projects that originate in public conversations. 

She said that a number of years ago, she discovered that her family had owned slaves in Virginia in the 17th and 18th centuries. Horrified, she began to think about a project about race, investigating whiteness in relations to non-whites with questions raised that proactively address stereotype, culture, and community.  

“You can imagine,” she said, “how gratified I was to be invited to do an art project for ‘Claiming Williams,’ the college’s opening day of its Spring Semester.” Instead of the usual panoply of classes on Thursday, Feb. 5, the day will be devoted to building community. 

“Face” involves a series of paired questions printed on napkins used during snacks and meals from February 6th through the 13th.

The questions are below the fold:

1/     How does racism affect your everyday life?
What were the circumstances when you last felt close to a person not of your race?

2/    What role has race played in your personal development?
Were you ever mistaken for a member of another group?

3/    How does racism affect racially and economically privileged people?
What things do you generally do with people of another race?

4/    How did you first become aware of your race?
How do you know what race you are?

5/    When do you feel you have alienated a person who is not of your race?
How has college affected your views on race?

6/    What are you proudest of as a member of your race?
Could you tell your life story without mentioning race?

7/     Are there areas on campus where each racial group congregates?
What racial groups participate in which activities on campus?

8/    What are the views of your closest friends on race?
What were the views on race held by your family?

9/    If you are white, what do others know about your racial experience?
How would you describe yourself as “white” (if you do) other than by skin color?

10/     Whatever your race, what does being white mean to you?
 Whatever your race, when and where have you been in the racial majority?

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