Campus News

Participants analyze whiteness, supremacy in workshop

A letter that encouraged violence against campus protesters was addressed to both Cortez de la Cruz and UW-Madison’s Multicultural Student Center.

Image By: Gage Meyer

Whiteness was broken down and challenged in a Multicultural Student Center workshop Thursday, where participants got a chance to develop an understanding of how white supremacy plays into day-to-day actions.

The event began with MSC Social Justice Educator Khaled Ismail explaining the goals of the workshop, which included having the participants challenge one another and acknowledge that no one is at the same place in understanding the constructs of race and white supremacy. However, it was noted that the participants would leave with a better understanding of how whiteness affects one’s interactions on a daily basis.

The participants were exposed to 10 different videos from a documentary called “Project Whiteness,” which investigated white-identified individuals and their views on their ethnicity. The videos showed a variety of opinions. One video included individuals admitting that their personal gain could be partially attributed to white supremacy. Another video featured white individuals claiming that minorities are taking scholarships and grants away from more-deserving white students.

After each video aired, a statistic was shown. For example, when a white individual claimed that more scholarship money was being awarded to minorities, a statistic showed that 62 percent of college students are white, and they receive 75.5 percent of merit-based institutional grants.

Once the videos had been aired, the participants were placed into groups and discussed their reactions and takeaways from each video.

Ismail said he wants attendees to engage in conversations beyond the workshop.

“I’m hoping that the people who attended tonight will go out and share the knowledge in their communities,” Ismail said. “On whether they share it within their residence halls or in their classrooms, or they share it within their friend groups, that’s the impact that we hope people will take away.”

For the final activity, each group was given a word, such as individualism and objectivity, and they were challenged to find instances where these words were used in a racialized context in everyday life.

“[After the workshop, I hope that participants will have] an understanding that we all have a responsibility to create a community where we can have equitable experiences that are just and free of discrimination and oppression,” Ismail said. “Having [the people who attended the workshop] start to think about their responsibilities, and start thinking about the ways in which can create change in their communities within their families, within their friend groups, all of those are great takeaways.”

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