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Conference Presentations
(Updated 10/22/96)

Cessie Aflonso, A.C.S.W.
Alfonso Associates
Jersey City, New Jersey

Peggy O'Donoghue, M.S.W.
Doctoral candidate
School of Social Work
New York University

Whiteness and Social Work: A Critique of the Profession (Presentation and discussion) The presenters will draw upon their experiences in their professional practice and personal lives to illuminate the current state of awareness of white American culture within the social work profession. They will discuss how this awareness, or more commonly a lack of awareness, affects both the provider and recipient of services. Attention will be drawn to the current social work curriculum which instructs a heavily white American majority student body in all racial cultures but their own.

Arlene Avakian, Students and Facilitator
University of Massachusetts

The Social Construction of Whiteness and Women: Teaching and Learning about Whiteness (Workshop and roundtable discussion) This workshop is about the Women's Studies course, "The Social Construction of Whiteness and Women," an experimental course at the University of Massachusetts. Presenters include members of the class, the faculty member, and a facilitator of a discussion group connected with the class. Students have come to the class with an understanding that racism exists and are now interested in exploring whiteness, where it comes from and how to integrate this disturbing knowledge into their lives. Class requirements include both an action and a process component. Students are required to work in groups to take the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom and bring it into their lives by engaging in anti-racist activism on or off campus. Also built into the course is a required discussion section where feelings and thoughts raised by class material can be shared and developed. Each group of approximately 10 students has a facilitator who is expected to keep the discussions on track, since focusing on whiteness is often very difficult. The presenters are interested in sharing their experience with this material and in this class with others who have designed, taught or want to/are taking similar classes.

Harry Brod, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
University of Delaware

Turn a Whiter Shade of Pale: The Search for an Alternative Albinity. Toward a Theory and Practice of White Anti-Racist Identity. (Presentation and discussion) This session presents a perspective which believes that "whiteness" and "White American Culture" are concepts that need to be claimed for progressive politics and turned into concepts whose meanings become contested arenas of struggle within the dominant culture, rather than being abandoned and thereby surrendered to their current regressive meanings. Suggestions for such a theory and practice are drawn from the presenter's long experiece as an activist in and spokesperson for the profeminist men's movement. That component of this movement with which the presenter identifies has attempted to redefine "masculinity" in pro-feminist and gay affirmative ways, in contrast to some who argue that male anti-sexism requires "refusing to be a man" or becoming a "traitor" to one's gender. Part of developing an anti-racist white identity is fully claiming whiteness as an identity, rather than whiteness being seen as just the default mode or the scarcely noticeable background for the affirmation of the ethnic or racial identities of "others." In other words, those of us who are white must move from seeing ourselves as "just" pale to seeing ourselves as glaringly white. The presenter will add personal reflections on constructing an anti-racist white Jewish identity, the special challenge here being that while people of color tend to clearly see that most U.S. Jews are white, the history and current dynamics of anti-Semitism make it very hard for many Jews to see ourselves as fully white, given our historical status as the marginalized "other" in much of Western civilization.

Laura Canty-Swapp
Graduate Student
Sociology and Women's Studies
California State University at San Marcos

Sharon Elise, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Sociology and Women's Studies
California State University at San Marcos

Understanding Dimensions of White Culture through the Prism of Race. (Lecture / workshop) The presenters, experienced in teaching race and culture in classroom and workshop settings, will offer a theoretical overview of white American culture. They will then draw on concrete experiences, emotions, and meaning-making of the audience by asking: What is white? Who is white? What are the limits of "passing" for white? What good does assimilation into white culture do if you are not white? How white are whites who criticize white culture? What comprises material white culture? How is it known from the inside? From the outside? How is it embedded in Americanness? What are the elements of core white culture? How is it that a race has a culture? How does white culture relate to white racism and white privilege? How are class, maleness, femaleness, sexuality, being Catholic or Baptist or Jewish...shaped by white culture?

Patti DeRosa
Cross-Cultural Consultation
Randolph, Massachusetts

Angela Giudice
Training Associate
Cambridge, Masschusetts

Home/Work: Anti-Racism Activism and the Meaning of Whiteness (Presentation and discussion) For the past two years, we have been participating in a feminist white women's anti-racism group in Boston called "Hopeful Travelers: White Women Challenging Racism." We have completed an article called "Home/Work: Anti-Racism Activism and the Meaning of Whiteness," which will be published in a book called Off-White: Readings on Society, Race, and Culture, to be published by Routledge Press in Spring 1997. The article is based on taped and edited conversations among group members exploring several questions about what whiteness means for us in our lives. During our meetings, we began to hash out many of these questions and in the process have found ourselves making connections and insights that we have not heard or seen written about before. We would like to share our experiences with the conference participants.

Linae Enockson
Program Coordinator
Div. of Health Mgt. and Policy
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota

Sharpening Our Focus: Using the Lens of Identity to Construct a New Awareness of Race (Workshop) By connecting with individual experiences of marginalization and privilege, this workshop will assist participants in building a basis for understanding the dynamics of racism, white privilege, white guilt, and the process of creating community through using the intersection of our identities, empathetic connection, and positive strategies for confronting racism. The presenter has extensive experience as a teacher, facilitator and community organizer on issues of culture and community, lesbian and bisexual identity and experience, and anti-oppression activity.

Jeff Hitchcock, M.S., M.B.A.
Center for the Study of White American Culture
Roselle, New Jersey

Internalizing the Oppressor, Internalizing the Oppressed: The Psychological Framework of Structural Inequality. (Paper and discussion) Using the concept of internalized dominance as developed by Dr. Maureen Walker of Harvard University, and the older and more broadly known concept of internalized oppression, the presenter will discuss 1) how these two psychological orientations share similar characteristics as responses to structural inequality, and 2) how they operate in conjuction with one another to maintain the same unequal social structure.

Gary L. Lemons, Ph.D.
Director, Literature Program
Eugene Lang College
New School for Social Research

Teaching the (Inter)racial Space that has no Name: Performing an Antiracist/feminist Pedagogy. (Paper and discussion) Discussion of a pedagogical approach to antiracism, exemplified by the presenter's first year college course titled "The Whiteness of Blackness." Students explore narratives of racial passing from slavery through the Harlem Renaissance. Through discussion and personal sharing, students begin to understand the pain of identity between "whiteness" and "blackness" -- the (inter)racial space that has no name. In the process of reading, talking, and writing about the racial dilemma of the biracial character, they learn how to critically deconstruct racial stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that breed racism.

Kellie Stoddart, M.A.
Doctoral candidate
Fielding Institute, Santa Barbara, California

Racial Life Lines (Workshop/Discussion) Participants in this workshop will explore the process of racial identity-formation from childhood to adulthood, using themselves as case studies. Using the pedagogy of Paulo Freire and others, participants will "read" their own racial world and construct an outline of their racial journey. This will be done through artistic/creative exercises and dyad and group discussions. Drawing upon the knowledge and experience of participants, the group will work together to (re)discover common and contrasting themes of racial development and theorize about how we have learned about our racial identities.

Cooper Thompson, M.S.
Senior consultant
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Profiles of Anti-Racist White Men: Discussion of a work in progress. (Presentation/Discussion) The presenter, in conjunction with Jim Kilpatrick, is in process of interviewing white men in the United States who have taken risks to support people of color and fight white racism. Both Cooper Thompson and Jim Kilpatrick are white men. Their reasons for the project include reducing their own feelings of isolation and separation, learning about the experiences encouraging white men to go against the powerful tide of racist social conditioning, providing information about this process, and presenting an alternative to the stereotypic "angry white male." The presenter is interested in getting feedback on the project, in particular on the content and process of the interviews, how to get at the questions of white identity in the interviews, the value of using these white men as models for the development of a non-racist white identity, and sources for identifying additional anti-racist white men.

Lowell Thompson
African American creative ad man
Founder, Partnership Against Racism (PAR)

(Talk and discussion) Lowell Thompson has spent all of his adult life creating advertising for some of America's largest ad agencies and their clients. Growing up in a large, poor, "black" family on Chicago's Southside , he used his artistic talent and good timing to be among the first wave of "blacks" entering the advertising business in the late '60s. In 1991 he decided to use what he had learned creating advertising selling Americans everything from McDonald's hamburgers to United Airlines to try to "unsell" racism. He started Partnership Against Racism (PAR), a non-profit communications agency that creates advertising and media promoting racial equality and harmony. Thompson will talk about strategies and tactics he's used to reach mass audiences, show samples of PAR's work and discuss the importance of advertising and media in changing the attitudes of America's masses. Thompson will also discuss his new book, "WHITE FOLKS": Seeing America Through Black Eyes.

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