Tuesday, May 30, 2017

University hosts training on how to reduce the impact of white privilege

The following article appeared on thecollegefix.com on May 26.

Western Washington University is scheduled to host a workshop today that aims to “reduce the impact of white privilege on social and academic relations,” according to campus officials.

Part of its Campus Equity and Inclusion Forums, the event at the public university is designed for faculty, staff and students, who will use presentations, interactive exercises and facilitated discussions to learn “how to reduce the expression and effects of white privilege,” the university’s website states.

The seminar will be led by history professor Randall Jimerson, who is white.

“I think the harmful effects of ‘white privilege’ are that it can reflect an insensitivity to the subtle effects of both racism and lack of awareness of the differences between how people of color and people called ‘white’ are treated in everyday life,” Jimerson told The College Fix via email. “Not being aware that other people face daily, often subtle, discrimination can make white people insensitive to these debilitating effects.”  

The seminar is open to everybody, but Jimerson acknowledged it’s especially helpful for white people.

“Most people of color are aware of the existence of ‘white privilege,’ whether or not they have applied this term to the disparity between their experiences and those of white people,” he said via email. “Thus, I assume that the main focus will be on helping white participants to understand, explore, and accept (or reject) the concepts embedded in this phrase.”

“I hope that the conversation will then move to ideas about how to reduce the impact of ‘white privilege’ in our daily interactions with other people, and in our consciousness of race and other socially-constructed concepts.”

Indeed, he emphasized that white privilege is not based in “biology, but only as social constructs historically designed to privilege ‘white’ people over all others.”

Asked how race relations have come in the United States since the 1960s, Jimerson demurred.

“As a white male—even though I have a sister-in-law, a niece, and two nephews who would be described as persons of color—I do not think that I can provide a clear answer to this question,” he said. “The nature of race relations, and how this has changed in the past 50 years, is something that I can only sense indirectly.”

“Although I think that the United States has made progress in some aspects of race relations—such as overt or legal segregation—recent evidence suggest we have a long way to go,” he added. “These forms of evidence range from the racist attacks on former President Barack Obama, to documented incidents of excessive police violence towards people of color, to the increase of white supremacist organizations, and the only slightly veiled racism of many members of the Trump administration. These developments are seriously troubling for anyone who values concepts of fairness, equality, and social justice.”

Take a look at Randall Jimerson’s personal page under the WWU History Department listing and you’ll discover that the professor is very big on “archiving.”  He taught HIST 525, a course titled ‘History & Principles of Archives & Records Management.’ He has written papers and even books on archiving. 

According to one definition, “Professional archivists and historians generally understand archives to be records that have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative, or social activities.”  

Wikipedia  states that “Archives are “distinguished from documents that have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.”    

In short, archives are pretty dry collections of facts, figures and information. And archivists are probably not the most exciting or creative people.

But Jimerson sees it differently, lamenting the fact that, “Archivists can perform only a limited range of actions to further the goals of social justice, diversity, accountability, and public service.”  It seems Mr. Jimerson views archiving as an opportunity to re-create history; to manufacture an agenda which seeks a path to the greater good while demonizing those who stand in the way of “social justice, diversity, accountability, and public service.”  

Facts will be archived according to the professor’s definition. And it’s a safe bet that the evil white man will be declared a racist, homophobic, hyper-arrogant enemy of all that is good. And that’s just the beginning! 

Who knew a musty old archive could be so useful!   Ed.


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