UC Berkeley Offers Class on ‘Deconstructing Whiteness’

Protests at Berkeley against free speech

The University of California, Berkeley, is offering a course entitled “Deconstructing Whiteness” this semester on campus.

The course, which was first reported on by Campus Reform, will focus on the negative aspects of “whiteness” and the responsibility of white people to take stands against white supremacy movements. The course will also address concepts like “environmental racism,” gentrified food practices, and “white comfort/coddling.”

This decal aims to confront uncomfortable conversations about privilege and positionality to understand where white bodies have the responsibility to be in movements against white supremacy and in solidarity with marginalized peoples and groups of color. This class will not be to coddle white fragility, but to deconstruct and relearn whiteness through case studies, speakers, and intense, critical readings.

The course is part of a larger slate of courses that seeks to break down various social ills. Other courses on the slate include “Palestine: A Settler-Colonial Analysis,” and “Decolonizing Methods in Academic Research.”

Much of the course, particularly the Decolonizing Methods workshop series, will situate research historically as a site of violence and trauma against marginalized communities—much of which will include racial and sexual violence,” the disclaimer states. “In order to prevent additional trauma, you are excused from this class or section of this class. If you feel comfortable doing so, please email or speak to me privately if you need to be accommodated in any way.

In a bizarre comment to Campus Reform, course instructor Istifaa Ahmed said that the courses are an attack on UC Berkeley itself. “The premise of our work in this course threatens the very foundations of this university. We deconstruct this university as a colonial, imperial research institution,” Ahmed argued. These courses are part of “a movement that reconciles with research (historically) as a site of violence and colonization against marginalized communities, and works to reclaim control over indigenous and communal ways of knowing and being.”

UC Berkeley and the surrounding town has been the center of political conflict over the past several years. A local professor was arrested in 2017 after he assaulted seven conservatives in the head with a bike lock.

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