Student-run Whiteness Forum provides insight into race relations in the U.S.

Cory Kay, Staff Writer

A Critical Look at Whiteness offered all students the chance to participate and explore what it means to be white versus a person of color in our society.

On Dec. 1 in the USU Ballroom, students from Dr. Dreama Moon’s Communication of Whiteness course (COMM 454) hosted a forum presenting race relations topics they researched throughout the semester.

Dr. Moon, a professor of Communication, created the course in order to “educate people about white supremacy and all of its nuances,” and said that “because of the political climate, it’s important for us to come together as a community.”

“We have a lot of classes on racism, but we don’t talk about white supremacy” said Dr. Moon. “… So it seemed that that was a gap here on campus. It’s an important piece of the race conversation that was missing.”

One of the displays entitled “Make America White Again,” created by students Austin Nield, Shelby Kennick and Lane Giammalva, presented instances of hate crimes committed against minority groups as a result of the rhetoric used in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The three students spoke of specific instances, including the assault of a Muslim student at SDSU and the harassment of students at the University of Pennsylvania, wherein African-American students were added to a group message and were sent threatening racist messages.

Another student display, created by Sydney Bowen and Sarah Wiggins, “Whiteness Under the First Amendment,” discussed First Amendment rights and the idea that people of color may be looked at differently when exercising these rights.

The display included specific events like NFL Player Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest during the performance of the National Anthem and Beyonce’s cultural expression through her choice of clothing at her Super Bowl performance. Bowen said the First Amendment grants them the freedom to do these things, but both occurrences received widespread backlash.

Bianca Batista, a CSUSM student who attended the forum, said that the event served as a learning experience.

“I learned about gentrification … I realized that I have more privilege than I thought I did,” Batista said. “ Not knowing [gentrification] existed is kind of a privilege.”

The Whiteness Forum allowed students to learn about aspects of whiteness and race relations that they have been previously unaware of. Students with questions about the forum or about details of the Communication of Whiteness course can contact Dr. Dreama Moon at [email protected].