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Help Me, I’m Perfect: Responding to Defensiveness from White Participants in a Class Designed to Eradicate White Racism Theodoric Manley,Jr. Ph.D. Frank.

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Presentation on theme: "Help Me, I’m Perfect: Responding to Defensiveness from White Participants in a Class Designed to Eradicate White Racism Theodoric Manley,Jr. Ph.D. Frank."— Presentation transcript:

1 Help Me, I’m Perfect: Responding to Defensiveness from White Participants in a Class Designed to Eradicate White Racism Theodoric Manley,Jr. Ph.D. Frank Holiwski M.A. Jason Washburn,Ph.D. Presented at Winter Roundtable on Strategies for Building Cultural Competence in Psychology and Education, Teachers College Columbia University February 20-21, 2004

2 Symposium Introduction This symposium is designed to enable us to share lessons we have learned from teaching (alternatively) “White Studies and Eradication White Racism” or “White Racism.” It is expected that the students who enroll in the course are receptive to learning about White racism and engaging in dialogue in a personal and meaningful way in order to begin the process of purging the racist messages they have internalized. Sadly, the actions of many White students in the class have been to celebrate their own “non-racist” identities, question the experiences of people of color and, ironically, defend Whiteness. It is our hope that in sharing our experience, we can provide strategies and concrete examples of effective techniques for teaching White racism and dealing with the resistance Whites have to addressing the topic.

3 White Studies and Eradicating White Racism and/or White Racism Course The courses have been offered since the Summer of There are three classroom formats: Summer Intensive one-week course (30 contact hours)— meets six hours per day for five days—includes undergraduate and graduate students and community people. December Quarter three-week course (30 contact hours)— meets for three weeks, three times a week; three hours per session—includes only undergraduate students (Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors). Spring Quarter ten-week course (30 contact hours)—meets for ten weeks, two days a week for one and a half hour per session—Includes only undergraduate students (Sophomore, juniors and seniors).

4 Classroom Curriculum--Lectures Whiteness as a social construction—Dyer (Embodiment of Whiteness), Roediger (Wages of Whiteness), Stefancic and Delgado (Critical White Studies), Lopez (White By Law), Feagin (White Racism), etc. Whiteness—the role of history, society, culture, media, literature, law etc. White privilege (Peggy McIntosh), white benefits, cost of white racism (Paul Kivel) Case studies—historical and contemporary What to do?—Social action and change

5 Curriculum—Films and Documentary Videos “White Identity: Theory and Practice”—Rita Hartiman and William Cross “The Story we Tell” “Who’s the Savage?”—Native American “Ethnic Notions”—African Americans “Death Runs Riot”—White Liberalism “The House we Live In”—White by law “Days of Waiting”—Japanese Internment Camps “The Chicano Movement”—Quest for a Homeland “Do the Right Thing”—short clip of conflict over pictures on the wall.

6 Curriculum—Music/Songs “Across the Lines”—Tracy Chapman “Love me I’m a Liberal”—Phil Ochs “Living for the City”—Stevie Wonder “Changes”—2Pac “New Beginning”—Tracy Chapman “Remember the Tin Man”—Tracy Chapman Rape of the World—Tracy Chapman

7 Curriculum: Pre-and Post-Test Received University Institutional Review Board Approval Summer,1999 (retroactive) Consent form and demographic information sheet White Racial Identity Attitude Inventory (Helms & Carter 1990) White Racial Attitudes Scale (Galloway, Gutkin, Saunders, Gonzalez, Yetter, and Sobansky 1999) Black Racial Identity Attitude Inventory (Helms ad Carter, 1990) Long and short forms People of Color Racial Identity Attitude Inventory (Helms, 1996) Social Desirability Scale (Washburn and Manley, 1999).

8 Curriculum: Checklist and exercise White benefits checklist (Kivel, 1996) Cost of Racism for White People Checklist (Kivel, 1996) Social background exercise—taking one-step back and one-step forward (World of Difference Teacher Training Manual, 1995) White privilege—individual and small group exercise (Manley, 2000) Eliminating the cost of white racism exercise—individual and small group exercise (Manley 2000) Personal inventory exercise—case vignettes (Manley and Washburn 2000)

9 Curriculum: Student Requirements Journaling—from once a day to every week. Essay/narrative on Whiteness and family background Social action paper on eliminating white racism Literature review of whiteness, white racism, and white studies.

10 White Students Defensive Mechanisms Denial and selective attention (Utsey and Gernat, 2002): are seen as the most pervasive defenses used by Whites to avoid dissonance and discomfort associated with race related anxiety. They define denial as “attempts to suppress from one’s consciousness the painful realities of racism” Rationalization or transference of blame (Utsey and Gernat, 2002, Thompson and Neville, 1999): In each of these Whites develop a justification or legitimating rationale for racial inequalities that exits in society. Instead of viewing White racism as a problem for Whites the rationalizing White will justify racist actions by looking for why the mistreated groups deserved to be treated unequally.

11 White Students Defense Mechanisms Cont’d. Intellectualization (Utsey and Garnat, 2002): Here White students acknowledge the existence of White racism at an intellectual or ideological level but are not willing to have an affective and behavioral connection to the deleterious effects of white racism on people of color lives. Identification or introjection. Both are usually realized when White students have a feeling of otherness and attempt to latch onto people of color attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviors and practices. In some instances they latch onto gay and lesbian groups to neutralize racism against people of color. Projection where White students try to show how people of color have “undesirable” and “despised” self-aspects similar to White people.

12 Qualitative Results Journal: Denial and Self Attention Summer 2000—White male student “There are times I resent having a guilt trip laid on me because I am white. I’m white – so what? It isn’t like I asked for it or have a secret conspiracy going on in my basement. I have always tried to treat others the way I wish to be treated. I take a stand even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. I do what is right – my conscience does not let me do otherwise.”

13 Qualitative Results Journals: Denial and Selective Attention Defense Mechanisms Summer 2003—White female student “There were two topics spoken about today that pissed me off. The first is the issues of white leading to UNEARNED entitlement. Who didn't earn what they have. I may be white, but my family and I have earned what we have. My grandparents and great grandparents came to this country after the abolition of slavery, as penniless non-English speakers who didn't have a pot to piss in. They worked hard, very hard, to death in some cases, to put food on the table, put clothes on their children's back, give them a nice place to live, and a good education……. Frank basically called white people racists, how dare he use such an offensive and insulting term to define white people. Wasn't he stereotyping and generalizing the very thing that white people get accused of doing to minorities? There is no way in hell that Frank, or anyone else, can tell me that I am responsible for what my ancestors did. It is not my fault that my ancestors behaved as they did, nor is it any other white persons' fault that their ancestors may have owned slaves. I am NOT responsible for their actions.”

14 Qualitative Results Journals: Rationalization and Transference of Blame Defense Mechanisms Spring 2000 White male “As in the Rodney King trial I think many aspects were blown out of proportion. Maybe the officers used excessive force, maybe they didn't. Forget that King was high as a kite driving almost 110 mph and then attacks the cops. Why is it that the officers had to go up on a stand & defend the[m]selves for doing what they had to do to keep everything under control? Then the blacks went & rioted in THEIR OWN TOWN. That shows what kind of sense of community they have. They stole from their own kind & blame it on whites. WHOSE THE REAL SAVAGE NOW?!?”

15 Qualitative Results: Rationalization and Transference of Blame Defense Mechanisms Summer 2003 White Female “Even if once developed White neighborhoods became Black neighborhoods, White flight occurred as well as White capital, why did the new Black inhabitants of the area let the area become run down? Why didn’t they build their own institutions, like banks and schools, to keep the neighborhood afloat? If Blacks say that loosing White capital is the reason their community failed to thrive, than they do in fact need the help of White people and their capital to redevelop now. How can they say that it crumbled because Whites left, but we don’t need the Whites to come and save us? If you’re unable to save and sustain yourself than you either accept help or die out.”

16 Qualitative Results of Journals: Intellectualization Defense Mechanism December 2003 White male “At the same time I do not think someone is racist for making a joke about a race that is not their own. I am sick and tired of the people that call everyone else racist for making the smallest comment or joke about a race that is not their own. Just because they hear one comment does not make the person racist…..I admit, I notice when someone is of another race than me. I do not dwell on it, frankly, I do not care what race they are, and it is just another identifiable characteristic like the color of their hair. Race is not an issue to me and it should not be an issue for anyone. One last thing, I am tired of people dwelling in the past like the blacks nowadays still blaming the whites for slavery and wanting restitution for what our ancestors did to the blacks. I have one thing to say, it is in the past, move on and enjoy the present.”

17 Qualitative Results of Journals: Identification and Introjection Defense Mechanisms Summer 2001 Gay White male “There was so much preaching to the white man by the end of the day. I was pissed off. I don’t want to hear anybody’s struggle being dismissed period. Don’t you fucking tell me that a Jewish person’s experience is easier, that a black man’s or a gay man’s struggle isn’t as important as a black man’s, because when you start saying they don’t understand struggle or being dismissed or discriminated against you’re saying that my experience as is also not as difficult or valid as a black man’s. That is unacceptable.”

18 Qualitative Results Journals: Projection Defense Mechanism Spring 2000 White female "While reading ‘A Tale of Two Restaurants’ many thoughts came to my mind. The first one I came across had to do with Raymond Danner, co- founder of Shoney's. It says that he didn't want to hire Blacks at his restaurant, well so what. How can you sue a man for that? I highly doubt I would get hired at Harold's Fried Chicken in Hyde Park or Josies Chicken and Waffles on 95th and King Drive [these are all Black restaurants, of which, one is located in an integrated community of Chicago]. But I wouldn't go and sue them about the whole ordeal. If that store is his livelihood and his source of income then he should be able to run it whatever way is best for him."

19 Challenging, Confronting, and Interrupting Defense Mechanisms: Teaching Strategies and Techniques Stress inoculation Overwhelming Evidence Personalized Evidence Inverted Question Comparing Ideology to Action Bring Unconscious to the Conscious Normalizing Encouraging discomfort

20 Model One.—White Student Defense Mechanisms and White Racism White StudentsWhite Racism Course Feelings of Guilt, Shame, Embarrassment, Defense Mechanisms Denial of White racism Preservation of Whiteness Challenge, Confront, and interrupt defense mechanisms

21 White Racism and Eliminating the cost of White Racism small group exercises—Coping with the burden of Discomfort Students are asked to reflect on whether they view this course as a way to feel comfortable about race and why? A discussion on the discomfort of race is created to assist White students in understanding that when people of color decided to mobilize to change injustice in the United States, during the civil rights movement, they were afraid, uncomfortable, and fearful of their life but they envisioned a better world as the result of their actions even though they were aware that they may not live to see it. Many students see the goal of these two exercises but are unwilling to discuss why they typically want to create the need to feel comfortable in race anxiety situations.

22 Invert Questions from white Students We attempt to invert questions from White students in the class room context. For example, Why haven’t Blacks assimilated and reached achievement levels like whites? Inverted question: How did you assimilate and achieve? What do you think White people should/can do?

23 Personal Inventory Six case Vignette Exercise Deals with situations where racial stereotyping is used. Students are asked to consider the following: Should they confront the person? (i.e., father, mother, friend, roommate, stranger, brother) (response categories are yes or no) and; What is the probability that they would confront the person (the response categories are—definitely, probably, don’t know, probably not, and I would need to think about it).

24 Personal Inventory: Father case Vignette Case Vignette #1 The Father: One day at the dinner table your father began to discuss why the war against Iraq was necessary. He described his support for the war by stating, in a very angry tone that “Saddam Hussein and all the scarf wearing sheiks in the Middle East need to be shown what liberty and justice is all about!” He went on to state, in a very angry tone, “what we did to the Japs in Japan we are going to do to these camel jockeys!” How would you, personally, respond and act in this situation?

25 Personal Inventory: Stranger case vignette Case Vignette #5 The Stranger: While walking home from the store you hear a Black man on the corner talking loud about white men. He makes the comment “boy, white boys show nuff’ can’t jump or dance AND to top it all off they have a small penis” How would you, personally, respond and act in this situation?

26 Results: Personal Inventory and Cost of Racism for White people Checklist “I have been in situations where I heard derogatory jokes and remarks about people of color and did nothing.” Over the four year period since we developed the personal inventory most White students responded to every item in the affirmative except the “stranger” case vignette. Why? Stated “they felt uncomfortable, unsafe, and feared what would happen to them in that situation.” We told the students that we expected the greatest discomfort, fear, and concern about safety to arise in those situations when they were with people they know, especially “dominating” family figures like a father, mother, or brother.

27 Implicit Attitude Test Another strategy involves the use of the implicit attitude test (IAT) for students to measure and get immediate results on their unconscious racist feelings and attitudes. White student results have mostly shown a strong or moderate preference for Whites on the IAT. Discussions on the results have helped White students recognize that being socialized in a racialized society influences their thinking and attitudes towards groups of color even though they are not consciously trying to be prejudice or racist in race anxiety situations.

28 Conclusion By getting students to recognize what they are feeling in race anxiety situations we are uncovering for them their implicit, unconscious, and conscious attitudes and behavior to hide their racist tendencies. We argue that efforts to repress racial biases, through the use of defense mechanisms in race anxiety situations, can make White students stupider.


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