A bi-weekly meeting at Fresno State is exploring what it means to be white in America. The rather academic setting titled “Discussing Whiteness” meets every other Friday exploring themes like white culture, white privilege and attempting to define what it means to be white.
Despite the provocative name and the ever-sensitive nature of the topic, the seminar was aimed at the higher education crowd. It took place in a small lounge on the campus’ Cross Cultural and Gender Center. While there was some griping about institutional racism and the current President of the United States, it was an overall civil discourse.
The first discussion group took place February 3. The Center’s Jessica Adams conducted the meeting, leading a conversation about academic readings assigned to the group. In a calm and respectful manner, the multi-generational, multi-ethnic group of about 20 shared their thoughts and ideas. A video of a comedic stand-up routine about reverse racism was shown to the audience.
“White culture is very normalized. People cannot typically identify or pick something out that is white culture if they’re white,” Adams, who is white herself, told GV Wire after the firs discussion group. “If you are not white, you can easily say what white culture is.”
Adams acknowledges potential backlash, but feels it is important to hold these groups. “Fresno State values diversity. Part of being diverse is including white people in the conversation.”
The group meets every other Friday at noon in the Cross Cultural and Gender Center on campus. The next 90 minute session is February 17. There are five more planned after that. The public is welcome.