Williams Political Science Professor Darel Paul writes about “Listening at the Great Awokening.” This is a brilliant article, worth reading in full. Relevant controversies at Williams include The Taco Six, Self-CARE Now, UL/Derbyshire, Green/Love Black Joy, and White Male Vigilantes. Alas, I don’t fully trust our busy readership to find the time to do so! So, we will spend two weeks going through the entire article. Day 1.
Whiteness and the Violence of Critical Race Theory
Decolonization intends to uproot Western academia’s supposed foundational characteristic: whiteness. According to critical race theory, whiteness is the social construction of white culture as socially normative. White supremacy, an unequal race-based distribution of power and resources, naturally follows. In the words of well-known activist-scholar of Whiteness Studies Robin DiAngelo, whiteness is a “racist worldview” into which all white people are socialized and effects “an unequal distribution of basically everything between people of color as a whole and white people as a whole.” The evil of whiteness animates the views of anti-racist student activists: “Whiteness is the most violent fuckin’ system to ever breathe!” (Evergreen); “I charge the white man with being the greatest murderer on earth” (Williams);
“We demand that the College offer classes that embody intersectionality, as defined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and address the racial diversity of the LGBTQ+ community instead of centering whiteness” (Sarah Lawrence). Never mind the superior performance of Asian students on white standardized tests, the strong overrepresentation of Asians in white supremacist higher education, that fact that Indians are the United States’ highest income ethnic group or that Nigerians are one of the most successful new immigrant groups in the country.
Exactly right. The average SAT score of Asian-American students at Williams is 1520, higher than white students. I also suspect that Asian-Amnericans have higher GPAs at Williams, but I have not seen any data.
College administrators, too, have taken up the task of decentering whiteness, helping their white faculty and staff in “processing whiteness” (Williams),
The link which Paul provides does not work. I suspect he is referencing this:
Organizers: Ruby Solomon, Integrative Wellbeing Services; Seth Wax, Chaplain’s Office; Gail Newman, Professor of German
The Processing Whiteness group will provide opportunities for faculty and staff to analyze and understand white identity, white privilege, and racism in a supportive environment that focuses on the experiences of the participants. Through a series of facilitated discussions, the group aims to help participants learn to speak about the historical and contemporary implications of white identity, examine race and racism, identify implicit bias and feelings of shame, and explore and practice allyship and interrupting racism.
Is that a parody I just made up of Williams wokeness? Or reality? You make the call!
“unpacking whiteness” (University of New Hampshire), conducting “conversations in whiteness” (University of Michigan), “understanding your whiteness” (University of Iowa) and “understanding and unlearning whiteness” (Evergreen). In a 2017 article in Harvard Educational Review, DiAngelo and her co-author Özlem Sensoy (both PhDs in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington) lay out what in their view whiteness is and how it operates in US and Canadian academia. The focus of their article is how whiteness is supposedly reproduced through faculty hiring and how that process may be interrupted. Thanks to its anti-racist frame, this article has, not surprisingly, become quite popular among American college administrators. In fact, it came to my attention because my own Dean of Faculty distributed it for my edification when I recently served as chair of a departmental hiring committee.
Denise Buell might be the most woke Dean of the Faculty in NESCAC. And I bet that she would consider that a compliment!