Jill Nicholson on “Why I Support Whiteness History Month”
I support Whiteness History Month because this is 2016. There is enough scientific data. There are enough personal accounts. Racism is a fact, not an unproven theory still up for debate. We whites are the dominant group in the USA, and our laws, values and social structure were all constructed to our advantage. No need to feel guilty, ashamed or fragile. This isn’t about you individually. There is, however, a responsibility to recognize our privilege and systemic racism, and do what we can to promote equity and inclusion of everyone in our community and college. Any white faculty or staff member who claims they are a victim of “reverse racism,” who bemoans the current ubiquity of race in our discussions, or who rejects the notion of white supremacyin our social structures needs to realize they are espousing ethnocentrism bordering on bigotry. That has no place in a public institution serving students in 2016. That’s why we need WHM. Not everyone has escaped the Great White Fog yet.
I would ask anyone who is bristling at the idea of whiteness to question their motives. What are you afraid of losing? Would you honestly be willing to trade places with a non-white person and experience our society (laws, justice, opportunities, etc.) as they do? Why?
Learning something about whiteness has allowed me to better understand the bias in my thinking and values, my emotional reactions and choices. One real eye opener for me was this: Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture. Our way is not the only way or even the best way. We need to be aware of our bias when we teach, when we interact with students and staff, when we make choices that affect others. If you can’t see that, we need Whiteness History Month.
Jill Nicholson is a member of the PCC Faculty.