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U. Wisconsin-Milwaukee workshop helps participants to ‘confront whiteness’

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recently hosted an event featuring a pair of “Reflective Justice” experts who helped attendees “confront whiteness in the campus community.”

The April 29 workshop was part of the Honors Antiracism Event Series and led by Beloit College’s Lisa Anderson-Levy and Catherine Orr.

The UWM Honors College “seeks to be a radically welcoming space where all students, staff, and faculty can flourish and experience genuine belonging,” reports Wisconsin Right Now.

According to the event description, the professors contend whiteness can be when a (white) student “says or does something — even unintentionally — that targets students of color,” or when a (white) faculty member “believes that ‘blue lives matter’ is equivalent to ‘Black Lives Matter.’”

Workshop participants were “encouraged” to read a pair of articles: One, a New York Times piece, says “Mr. [George] Floyd’s death is the story of our babies, of the numerous black children who grow up literally or metaphorically under the steel heel of a police boot.” The other is about black students at PWIs — predominately white institutions — which “allow white and rich students to silence, manipulate and demean students of color.”

Orr and Anderson-Levy run “Reflective Justice,” which claims to “build communities of mutual liberation.”

“Our vision of professional development is about promoting institutional environments where white people can move beyond their fears and join with black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) in the work of reflective justice, an essential element of our mutual liberations. In short, our work is about decentering whiteness in institutional spaces so everyone can thrive,” the site’s main page says.

Orr is the chair of Critical Identity Studies at Beloit, while Anderson-Levy is an anthropology and Critical Identity Studies professor. Both also run the Decolonizing Pedagogies Project at Beloit which states in its “Free Speech” section that speech “will never be truly ‘free’ until all people are free and equal members of society.”

Read the Wisconsin Right Now article.

MORE: Orr and Anderson-Levy train Ohio Wesleyan ‘equity’ leaders

IMAGE: YouTube screencap

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