“Deconstructing Whiteness”: A Weekly Northwestern University Program for White People

There’s a 6-week “Deconstructing Whiteness” program that’s offered at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, that explores topics such as the history of “whiteness,” “white privilege,” and racism. The program is designed especially for white people.

A spokesman for the university Bob Rowley told The College Fix that the program is “part of Northwestern’s Social Justice Education effort to create learning opportunities for our students.”

According to the campus newspaper The Daily Northwestern, Michele Enos will be leading the workshop:

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Titled “Deconstructing Whiteness,” the guiding principle of the workshop is that social justice work should start by examining self-identity before trying to understand the experiences of others, said Michele Enos, assistant director of Social Justice Education, an office within the Division of Student Affairs.

Enos, who will be leading the workshop, said this initiative has been a goal of hers since she helped create a similar group for white Northwestern staff members last year.

“There’s a lot of space on this campus for conversations to happen around issues of privilege and specifically around issues of white privilege,” she said.

The workshop, which will begin Tuesday and run once a week through March at the Women’s Center, will encompass several topics, including terminology used in conversations of race, the history and meaning of whiteness, white guilt and the difference between intellectualizing and feeling racism, Enos said.

She said discussions will reveal how racism operates in people’s everyday lives in ways they often fail to consider.

“Especially with everything that’s happening both on this campus and other campuses and in this country, I think now is a very important time for white people to start to understand their role in doing social justice work,” Enos said.

According to a poster promoting the program, the workshop – which will meet at the Women’s Center – will seek to answer questions and concerns such as the following:

  • What is my role in doing anti-racist work?
  • How can I talk about race as a white person?
  • I don’t see race.
  • Why do I have to feel guilty about being white?
  • What does it mean to be white?

 We previously reported that Portland Community College designated April to be “Whiteness History Month.” During April, they will focus on the history of whiteness, which they define not as a skin color, but as an ideology, a “socially and politically constructed behavior.”

Last month, the Chicago Theological Seminary launched a new program aimed at trying to get white people to see the world the way black people do with the use of “white privilege glasses.”

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