For Midwesterners longing to learn about white racism: A state college has you covered.
On January 16th — following the 15th’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Western Illinois University (WIU) will launch its first robust recognition of the National Day of Racial Healing. Through the rest of the month, an array of events will ensue. A few of the offerings:
- Monday, Jan. 22nd — Professor of History Peter Cole will speak on the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project.
- Tuesday, Jan. 23rd — Associate Vice President of Global Studies Randy Glean will speak on xenophobia.
- Wednesday, Jan. 24th — 2023 C.T. Vivian Scholar Rev. Tamera Izlar will host a Diversity Storytelling Workshop.
- Tuesday, Jan. 30th — Professor of Religious Studies Amy Carr will speak on “How to Combat Anti-Semitism.”
As part of that inclusion and justness, WIU makes sure to single out one group in excessive need of instruction. On the very first night, a sock-it-to-’em seminar kicks off the series:
WIU Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Robert Hironimus-Wendt will speak on “Racism for White People.”
A separate descriptor delves more deeply:
Because racism is almost always perceived as threatening to white people and because most of us put on our armor so-to-speak whenever such conversations involve whiteness, white privilege, white advantage, etc. Learning how to think about such matters and how to put down our armor is an essential first step toward building a beloved community.
Is ruminating on racism always threatening to paler people, or just almost always? Via myriad statements, publications, conferences and the like, the past few years have indicated whites are brittle persons of privilege flocked with fear and bound to break. Consider the celebrated book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.” It’s a curious title, given that author Robin DiAngelo doesn’t seem to fancy herself fragile; furthermore, the white lady spends nearly 200 pages talking about racism and how white people won’t talk about racism.
Racial separation was part of the American design, with colonization and enslavement setting the stage for centuries to come. The devastating effects of our separation continue today, with many communities of color cut off from access to essentials like jobs, transportation, safe housing, healthcare and good food.
White people will have to work on it. Meanwhile, Western Illinois University does also call to one other specific race. A section of its site is devoted to the Black Student Association Demands Report. Among the alliance’s insistence:
- We demand that [WIU] rebuild the African American Studies department by allowing students to major in African American studies…
- We demand that [WIU] includes Black students…in the hiring process of professors for the African American Studies department.
- We demand that [WIU] hire more professors, staff, student affairs professionals that are Black or African American.
- We demand that [WIU’s] University Union Board intentionally create more programming geared towards…Black…students.
- We demand that [WIU] mandates that professors complete diversity training that…includes history of the current campus climate at Western Illinois University.
- We demand that [WIU] fully accept accountability and take the time to address the incessant anti-blackness that has plagued the Black community…
- We demand that [WIU] only support businesses in [the area] that support Black people and #BlackLivesMatter.
Ostensibly, there’s much to be done. And success will remain elusive ’til pale oppressors shed their armor and face the malignant-melanin music — and finally talk about racism.
As aforementioned, January 15th will pay respect to Martin Luther King — a man who believed no one should be judged according to their race. On the 16th, WIU will preach the opposite. As the saying goes, “What a difference a day makes.”
* Original Article: