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Western Illinois U. ‘Day of Racial Healing’ includes ‘Racism for White People’ event

Gain a ‘cognitive multicultural consciousness’

Western Illinois University will be holding its first “Day of Racial Healing” in conjunction with the national effort beginning the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The title is something of a misnomer, however, as related happenings will occur throughout the month.

A first-day event is titled “Racism for White People,” led by Professsor Robert Hironimus-Wendt of the Sociology and Anthropology Department. According to its description, this discussion is needed as racism “is almost always perceived as threatening to white people.”

White people also allegedly “put on armor, so to speak” whenever discussions “involve whiteness, white privilege, white advantage, etc.”

“Learning how to think about such matters and how to put down our armor is an essential first step toward building a beloved community,” the description says. “We need to make white people feel included and needed, before we can hope to enlist them in the fight to reduce racism in our presence.”

Hironimus-Wendt’s specialties include “teaching and learning, social inequality, [and] labor relations,” according to his faculty page.

Other events include discussions on the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project, xenophobia, battling antisemitism, and “student-based advocacy” regarding Latin American immigrants.

MORE: UCLA diversity official: White people should work for free on Juneteenth

Attendees also can take a Day of Racial Healing “pledge.”

The Day of Racial Healing’s “community learning outcomes” section claims that “cognitive multicultural consciousness” includes a “complex understanding of cultural differences,” an “awareness and understanding of the histories and experiences of others,” and an “acceptance of the idea that a difference in values, ways of making meaning, thought, perspective and background does not mean a culture or an individual is lesser or greater than your own.”

According to a link provided by the event page, the National Day of Racial Healing began in 2017 with the hope that “racial healing activities happen in homes, schools, businesses and communities across the country [to] create a more just and equitable future for our children.”

The page notes racial healing begins with “conversations where people are free to speak openly, tell their own story and know their truth is being heard by their fellow community members.”

MORE: White people need to ‘work’ on their ‘whiteness’: sociologist

IMAGE: Koldunova Anna/Shutterstock.com

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