Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere, Loyola Marymount offers ‘space for dialogue’
LOS ANGELES — A private Jesuit university in Los Angeles is host to an “anti-racist” group that seeks to educate and support white-identifying employees in their battle against racism.
The Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere, Loyola Marymount, or AWARE-LMU, describes itself as a white affinity group “that supports white faculty and staff in deepening our learning about the impact of systemic racism on individuals, institutions, and society.”
“The focus of the group is to develop the capacity of those who identify as white to participate in challenging conversations about race or racism without expecting people of color to be educators,” AWARE-LMU administrators Fred Puza, Ariane White and Steve Nygaard told The College Fix in a statement.
“An affinity group is not so much a training as it is a space for dialogue, based on a shared experience or identity.”
AWARE-LMU first began meeting during the summer of 2018, after Puza and White worked with the university’s Office of Intercultural Affairs to facilitate a group webpage and funding for “materials.”
They estimate about five to 10 staff members show up to their meetings.
When asked what specific form of racist conduct AWARE-LMU advises white employees to avoid, they could not provide any specific forms of training, only stating: “There are no easy or quick answers for what behaviors to avoid; what is required is a willingness to be open to feedback, and to recognize that the complexity of everyone’s identities and life experiences shape how we relate to people.”
“The more deeply we listen to what people share with us, and what they don’t share, the more likely we are to relate to everyone in ways that promote equity and pluralism.”
AWARE’s webpage reiterates their message of self-reflection and encourages members to have “brave reflection and investigation.” Members are encouraged “to grow and learn without further burdening people of color” with their “inevitable mistakes.”
Not everyone appears to be comfortable with the group’s mission to provide anti-racist training exclusively for white staff.
“I think that this is a Trojan horse for continued indoctrination, furthering a woke, victimhood mentality narrative that will only increase the racial divide on our campus,” LMU’s College Republican President Will Donahue told The College Fix. “It seems like it will provide more of the same that we already hear in our classrooms by teachers with progressive, leftist agendas.”
“The fact that this group is focusing on ‘white’ faculty hints at elements of racism, because racism is not uniquely white, dividing up identities of ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’ is only going to further segregate our culture and perpetuate the cycle of racism, hate, and violence,” Donahue said.
Puza, the organization’s spokesman, told The Fix that one of the primary accomplishments of AWARE-LMU has been bringing together staff to bond over their shared goal to promote “equity and pluralism.”
He also notes the group had their proposed workshop, titled “Dismantling White Supremacy in Jesuit Higher Education: The Purpose and Practice of a White Anti-Racist Affinity Group,” accepted to be presented at Georgetown University in the 2020 AJCU Justice in Jesuit Higher Education Conference.
LMU is known for its affluent student body as the college sits on top of a bluff in Westchester, Los Angeles. The median family income for a student attending the university is $163,700, and approximately 13 percent of its students come from families in the top 1 percent.
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