Heidi always starts the week off with a movie. This Monday we watched Making Whiteness Visible a film which starred many white whiteness activists sharing their personal narratives. After the movie we, as a class, discussed our thoughts on the film. Something mentioned was that it seems like all the activists in the film had that one incident that was an ah-ha moment, to us this seemed as though all of the people in the movie were dealing with their guilt of being a white American. Heidi talked about guilt on the first day of the class and told us that is was a useless thing to dwell on. It is not your fault for the family, race, socio-economic status, gender or sexual orientation you were born into so what is the use in feeling guilty. I think this was an important issue to be addressed because it put the class a little more at ease and created a safer space for us to discuss. Many of the people in the film though felt guilty and this made them very emotional which at times made us in the class comfortable, probably all for different reasons.
The discussion that followed this one was on what are some of the strategies that we use in the US to combat racism. The first one discussed was the ides of color-blindness where we walk about the streets and no longer see people’s skin color. This idea, although a nice thought, is not realistic because of many reasons some being the fact that we cannot turn everyone color-blind, people take pride in their skin color and many others. In the end I think most of the class, at least the ones who spoke up, agreed that classes like the one we are in now and education on race in general is what will make the biggest difference in our society. Race is an uncomfortable topic and if we can get over that hump of avoiding discomfort we can start to openly talk and educate ourselves and the next generations on the topic and make everyone more aware.
Tuesday we focused on our reading of Steve Garner’s “Whiteness: an Introduction”. After a short reading quiz in the morning the discussions started off with what are values and norms? Asking questions like, how do we come to a consensus on what our collective values and norms are as a society? Why do we perceive our current systems of values and norms perfect and make everyone who wants to fit in live within them? Some interesting questions for you to think about. Many times in this class we bring up questions and we do not come to conclusions, this is because sometimes there are no answers and just thinking about these things in a different way and questioning them is productive in itself. The conversation jumped from chapter to chapter the details of which will not make much sense without the text in your head but if you are interested in what I have said so far this introduction to the study of whiteness is be something you would probably enjoy to at least skim through.
CC offers many interesting classes and I understand that not everyone is as fascinated by race as I am but the Race and Ethnic Studies department, more than most departments I have taken classes in, really makes you question the values and norms we are all accustom to. This is true in the sociology department as well, why do we do the things we do socially? What makes us have racist thoughts even though we are not “bad people”? These are good thoughts to have, in my opinion, because they make you keep developing as a moral individual.