At Portland Community College, the Cascade Diversity Council, made up of 20 attending students, developed a project called Whiteness History Month. The premise of this program, starting in April of this year, is to “challenge the master narrative of race and racism through an exploration of the social construction of whiteness.” Through this examination of white history and its effects on the world, the council hopes to ascertain ways to create better relationships within the campus population, find new methods to make the student body more aware of, and analyze, whiteness in an effort to dismantle systems of inequality that exist because of it.

Photo: Giphy

After catching wind of the project, several conservative press groups like Right Wing News, The Campus Reformer, The Rebel, and The American Conservative wrote posts saying that the Cascade Diversity group council planned to use this project as a form of “whiteness-shaming” and to unfairly blame the white community for racism.

Photo: tumblr
Photo: tumblr

In hopes to get a handle on things, the school’s interim president Sylvia Kelley posted a written statement:

“We view this project as part of a larger national conversation around race and social justice on America’s college campuses. As Oregon’s largest post-secondary educational institution, it is our responsibility to help continue this courageous conversation. We understand that this will be challenging and uncomfortable work, yet we have made a commitment in our strategic plan  to take intentional action to advance diversity, equity and inclusion – for all we serve…PCC’s event is intended to enable a rich and engaging exchange of ideas. We hope it will open up a space for dialogue and discovery around these complex issues. There is no intention, as some may have feared, to “shame or blame” anyone.”

If this statement is enough to call off the dogs, it’s not yet clear. But, the Cascade Diversity Council is taking applications for participation in Whiteness History Month, and plan to go ahead as scheduled.