What Whiteness History Month is Already Teaching Us

Reflection on how the upcoming Whiteness History month is already creating change

SIMON TAM

In Portland, Oregon, a brave community college launched a new project that “seeks to inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism.” It’s called Whiteness History Month. And it has received equal parts scorn as well as praise.

It should be noted that the endeavor itself isn’t “White History Month,” (which would imply the celebration and accomplishments of white individuals), but rather Whiteness, which directly refers to the social construction of white supremacist culture. Those four little letters provide an important distinction that has been lost as a number of online media outlets unleashed unabashed knee-jerk fury, accusing the school of “white shaming.”

The deep irony, of course, is that Portland Community College (as well as many universities around the nation) have been discussing whiteness as an academic subject for years. The messaging from anti-racist speakers, the establishment of…

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