Question of the Day: How much whiteness is ‘appropriate’?

Answers to this and related questions are provided in a course being offered this semester at Hampshire College in good ol’ liberal Massachusetts. The school made headlines when it canceled a concert back in 2013 because the band selected to perform was deemed “not black enough.” Apparently, appropriateness in shades of skin coloration looms large in the minds of the faculty and students at Hampshire.

The course, titled “White Supremacy and Appropriate Whiteness in the Age of Trump,” will be taught by visiting Women’s Study Assistant Professor Loretta Ross, co-founder and national coordinator from 2005 to 2012 of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.

Ross’s bio further notes she “is an expert on women’s issues, hate groups, racism and intolerance, human rights, and violence against women and her work focuses on the intersectionality of social justice issues and how this affects social change and service delivery in all movements.”

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Ross is indeed an expert on hate and intolerance. Per Campus Reform, after Trump’s inauguration she offered up this comment in a tweet that linked to an article at The Root:

As for the course, its description in the Hampshire catalog begins with two questions of its own:

Is White Supremacy a permanent feature of modern society? How does one appropriately respond to its ideology and political power in the Age of Trump? This course will analyze the history, prevalence, and current manifestations of the white supremacist movement by examining ideological components, tactics and strategies, and its relationship to mainstream politics. We will also research and discuss the relationship between white supremacy and white privilege, and explore how to build a human rights movement to counter the white supremacist movement in the U.S. Students will develop analytical writing and research skills, while engaging in multiple cultural perspectives. The overall goal is to develop the capacity to understand the range of possible responses to white supremacy, both its legal and extralegal forms. [Emphasis added]

The highlighted portion of the test is especially intriguing. I would be curious in particular to know more about the “extralegal” forms of protest Ross seems to be advocating.


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