The annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) serves as a yearly opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy and oppression. WPC provides a forum for critical discussions about diversity, multicultural education and leadership, social justice, race/racism, sexual orientation, gender relations, religion and other systems of privilege/oppression. WPC is recognized as a challenging, empowering and educational experience. The workshops, keynotes and institutes not only inform participants, but engage and challenge them, while providing practical tips and strategies for combating inequality."According to the conference Web site, the goal of the gathering is, in part, to make white people aware that they have been purposely kept ignorant of their societal advantages and to make participants more aware of the "negative historical implications of 'Whiteness.'" In the conference's FAQ, we learn:
Q: What is privilege?The founder of the conference is Eddie Moore Jr., now director of diversity at the elite private Seattle academy The Bush School. It is especially interesting in light of the discussion inspired by a Seattle Times story about white parents feeling unwanted at the Madrona K-8 school. Read about the experience there of Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat and my take on the controversy. Westneat followed up on Sunday, April 8, with a new column about the response to his anguish over his family's experience at Madrona, where white "charity" was deemed as being racist. In response to Danny's column, Chris Drape, principal of The New School in southeast Seattle, said his piece was an example of "unexamined white privilege." Westneat will be taking questions on the topic of race, live on the Times Web site from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, April 9.
A: "I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious. White Privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks." –Peggy McIntosh, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Q: What does it do?
A: "It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power, and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already. –Peggy McIntosh, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Q: Is this about proving how bad white folks are?
A: "Our attempts to dismantle dominance and oppression must follow a path other than that of either vilifying or obliterating Whiteness ... Whites need to acknowledge and work through the negative historical implications of "Whiteness" and create for ourselves a transformed identity as White people committed to equality and social change. Our goal is neither to defy or denigrate Whiteness, but to difuse [sic] its destructive power.
"To teach my white students and my own children that they are 'not White' is to do them a disservice. To teach them that there a [sic] different ways of being White, and that they have a choice as White people to become champions fo [sic] justice and social healing, is to provide them a positive direction for growth and to grant them the dignity of their own being. –Gary Howard, We Can't Teach What We Don't Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools
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