Williams College Offers Workshops So Faculty Can ‘Process Their Whiteness’

White privilege (Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons)
Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Williams College in Massachusetts is hosting free workshops for faculty and staff designed to help them “process their whiteness.”

The “Processing Whiteness” workshops, which begin next week, will furnish “opportunities to analyze and understand white identity, white privilege and racism in a supportive environment that focuses on the experiences of the participants,” the school’s website states.

The assumption seems to be that “whiteness” is a condition that disposes a person to racism and shame and therefore requires being worked through in a supportive environment.

“The group will help participants learn to speak about the historical and contemporary implications of white identity, examine race and racism, identify implicit bias and feelings of shame,” states the event description.

Group leaders will also help participants “explore and practice allyship and interrupting racism.”

“It’s important that white people give space in their lives to learning from and bearing witness to people of color’s experiences of racism,” the site declares.

Much of the material for the workshop is be drawn from Shelly Tochluk’s 2010 book Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk about Race and How to Do It.

Witnessing Whiteness “invites readers to consider what it means to be white, describes and critiques strategies used to avoid race issues, and identifies the detrimental effect of avoiding race on cross-race collaborations,” according to the book description.

The Processing Whiteness group is meant as “a supplement to, not a replacement for, multi-racial dialogues and activism between white people and people of color,” the school website notes.

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