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‘Racism 101’: Ohio State U. hosts discussion on racism … for white students

The Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University held a “conversation with white students” regarding racism yesterday, aptly titled “Racism 101.”

According to The Lantern, the event went pretty much as you’d expect.

“While the majority of white individuals do not consider themselves racist or condone racism, Shannon Winnubst, professor and chair of WGSS, said it remains a deeply rooted issue in the United States, as it has from the country’s very beginning.”

“It has never been and it is not good enough to think, ‘I am not a racist,’” Winnubst says. “We need to think about how we move from ‘I’m not a racist’ to anti-racist.”

Co-presenter Jennifer Suchland added that white folks are “complicent [sic] in racism if [they] are not actively challenging it,” and added their discussion was “for the majority of students who don’t actively think of themselves as racists, but yet don’t have the tools, language or understanding … in terms of really combatting racism in society.”

Uh oh. Beware of women’s, gender and sexuality studies academics professing to provide you the “tools, language [and] understanding” to fight racism.

From the article:

The discussion opened quickly to the floor with the question, “Has racism changed?”

Both Winnubst and Suchland, the discussion leaders, encouraged students to discuss the visibility of racism, proactive, educated ways to talk about it with minorities and also spent time trying to define the concept of racism.

Over the course of the hour and a half, the leaders moved through the discussion to talk further about racism in relation to government policies.

“Racist systems in the U.S. will never overturn, will never neutralize unless white people challenge the contemporaries of racism,” Winnubst said. “Living in such a systemically racist society, we need to think differently about what we can do to change this.”

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While the discussion remained peaceful throughout a few individuals did challenge the leaders, specifically about how much racism is tied into economic and government system.

Brittney Francis, a doctoral student in the College of Public Health, expressed concern over some of the disagreements expressed.

“I feel like the understanding is lacking especially in situations when it comes to people of color in prisons, single mothers, the wealth gap, education, decision making and how that relates to systemic racism,” Francis said. “I think the event is powerful, I just think it’s disheartening to know we’re still having these conversations on the baseline of understanding and not necessarily moving forward.”

Ah yes, no specifics on those disagreements, but here’s a PhD student “expressing concern” about them!

Now, get your G.I. Joe decoder ring ready:

According to her website, Professor Winnubst recently completed the book Way Too Cool: Selling Out Race and Ethics in which she “develop[s] a psychoanalytic reading of racialization in the contemporary neoliberal episteme, with particular attention to the limits of reading social difference and authority through the conceptual framework of interpellation.”

Professor Suchland’s recent workEconomies of Violence, examines “the role that postsocialism played in shaping current global anti-trafficking frameworks” and  “is tied to transnational feminist studies, postsocialist cultural studies and critical human rights.”

Read the full Lantern article.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.