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The Great White North Project: Exploring Whiteness, Privilege, Racism and Identity in Canada

The Great White North Project: Exploring Whiteness, Privilege, Racism and Identity in Canada. Darren E. Lund and Paul R. Carr. Anti-racism, two White guys and an elephant in the room. Overview. Paul: What is Whiteness, and why does it matter?

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The Great White North Project: Exploring Whiteness, Privilege, Racism and Identity in Canada

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  1. The Great White North Project:Exploring Whiteness, Privilege, Racism and Identity in Canada Darren E. Lund and Paul R. Carr

  2. Anti-racism, two White guys and an elephant in the room

  3. Overview • Paul: What is Whiteness, and why does it matter? • Darren: What is the Great White North Project, and what did it achieve?

  4. Why Whiteness? • If we wanted to end sexism, we would have to involve … MEN; therefore, if we wanted to end racism, we would have to involve... • Official colour-blindness vs. lived experience of racism • Canada is… a peaceful, multicultural, tolerant nationthe US is not… • Race is: • a social construction • about power • connected to social (in)justice AND the intersectionality of identity

  5. What does Whiteness look like? • Power: gaps in income, employment, status and representation based on race • Equity advancements have often avoided racial issues (i.e., women’s movement) • Networks, associations, clubs, private schools producing more inequity? • Unwritten, unspoken, coded language, jokes… • Confusion between overt and systemic racism • Data collection on race is discouraged • Quick: think of a Canadian Prime Minister, a Canadian ambassador, a Canadian supreme court judge, a Canadian Bank President, a Canadian University President...

  6. Whiteness is goodness • “White as Snow”, “Pure White”, “Snow White”… • Metaphors, analogies, images, cultural landmarks and concrete manifestations in language, law and cultural practices • White ---------------------------------------------------------------------Black • Good  Evil • Lightness  Darkness • Benevolence  Malevolence • Cleanliness, kindness, and serenity  Undesirable • the conqueror  the “dark continent” • “Whites, no matter how poor, are part of a club, even if it is the second tier”

  7. Historical Whiteness • Canada is a White, European, Christian nation? (ask the First Nations) • Were there different racial groups in Canada from the beginning? (ask Mathieu DaCosta) • Was there slavery in Canada? • Immigration, head-tax for Chinese-Canadians, internment of Japanese-Canadians, racial segregation (housing, education, military...), etc. • Hate groups

  8. The numbers • Canada is increasingly diverse re: ethno-cultural and racial identity • Most teachers are White • How teachers understand their Whiteness will have an effect on their White and non-White students • Avoiding acknowledging race, racialization and racism is problematic • The objective is to work for social justice • Black and Aboriginal under-achievement, racial profiling, Black-focused schools, a euro-centric curriculum, AND the qualitative educational experience of all members of society merit attention • Can governments simply respond that they are against racial segregation? • How do we understand social justice, democracy and citizenship, if we do not engage in an interrogation of Whiteness?

  9. Doing Whiteness • There is discomfort, denial and resistance when engaging in Whiteness • The approach is key • Diverse examples, anecdotes, experiences, personalities, activities and contexts • White people need to be involved • The objective is not guilt and shame  critical dialogue, political literacy, engagement and action

  10. THE GREAT WHITE NORTH? EXPLORING WHITENESS, PRIVILEGE, AND IDENTITY IN EDUCATION Editors: Paul R. Carr and Darren E. Lund Foreword by George J. Sefa Dei Introduction: Scanning Whiteness (Paul R. Carr and Darren E. Lund) Section 1: Conceptualizing Whiteness 1. Exposing the Authority of Whiteness: An Auto-Ethnographic Journey (Kathleen S. Berry) 2. Before I was White I was Presbyterian (Tim McCaskell) 3. Being White and Being Right: Critiquing Individual and Collective Privilege (James Frideres) Section 2: Whiteness and Indigenous Peoples 4. On Indigenous Academia: The Hermeneutics of Indigenous Western Institutional Participation – Eleven Theorems (Tracey Lindberg) 5. Going Native: A White Guy’s Experience Teaching in an Aboriginal Context (Herbert C. Northcott) 6. “Don’t Blame Me for What My Ancestors Did”: Understanding the Impact of Collective White Guilt (Julie Caouette and Donald M. Taylor)

  11. Section 3: Deconstructing and Developing White Identity 7. Development of Anti-Racist White Identity in Canadian Educational Counsellors (Christine Wihak) 8. “Radical Stuff”: Starting a Conversation about Racial Identity and White Privilege (Susan A. Tilley and Kelly D. Powick) 9. Who Can/Should do this Work? The Colour of Critique (Carl E. James) Section 4: Learning, Teaching, and Whiteness 10.The Parents of Baywoods: Intersections between Whiteness and Jewish Ethnicity (Cynthia Levine-Rasky 11. Re-inscribing Whiteness Through Progressive Constructions of “the Problem” in Anti-Racist Education (Lisa Comeau) 12. Discourses on Race and “White Privilege” in the Next Generation of Teachers (R. Patrick Solomon and Beverly-Jean M. Daniel) 13. White Canadian Female Teachers and Technology in Education: Stories Reproducing the Status Quo (Brad Porfilio) Section 5: The Institutional Weight of Whiteness 14. Whiteness and Philosophy: Imagining Non-White Philosophy in Schools (Laura Mae Lindo) 15. (De)Centering Normal: Negotiating Whiteness as a White School Administrator in a Diverse School Community (Debbie Donsky and Matt Champion) 16. A Group That Plays Together Stays Together: Tracing a Story of Racial Violence (Gulzar R. Charania) 17. The Whiteness of Educational Policymaking (Paul R. Carr)

  12. Support from scholars “of colour” • Geroge Sefa Dei (from the foreword) • “Because White bodies are invested in systems of privilege, the importance of dominant groups questioning their self-appointed and racialized neutrality is always critical and transformative. For far too long we have witnessed how White society has conscripted and choreographed the idea of a fractured Black community that avoids taking responsibility.”

  13. The Globe and Mail article • May 2007 at Social Science and Humanities Congress in Saskatoon, two weeks before book was released • Globe article of 450 words highlighted the work of two White professors interested in exploring Whiteness • Over 160 comments on Globe message board • Editorials in several newspapers • Some hate-mail • Invitations to talk on several radio programs

  14. Radio interviews • In English, French and Spanish • Call-in shows underscore intense reaction about subject • It is easy to say that it does not exist because... “I don’t do it,...” “If you work hard...,” “Canada is not like the US,...” and “this is a problem only for Toronto...” • Edmonton host who thought it was literally a joke • “Two White professors who argue that we need to look at our Whiteness...” evokes intrigue, ridicule and incredulity

  15. Presentations • People of colour have supported the initiative but have questioned how White people will buy into it • White people have been split, with some rejecting it and others wanting to know how it works • Main question: how do you do it? • It is clear that raising the issue is fundamental, and creating a space to understand and critique it is equally important • Having Whites lead a project on Whiteness is considered by many to be important

  16. What have we learned from the reaction to the book and project? • The roots of race, racialization and racism run deep • The ideology of color-blindness and the myth of multiculturalism obfuscate the quest for social justice • Many people want to become engaged but do not know how • Treating education as a neutral apolitical enterprise is problematic • Whiteness must be approached critically

  17. Why do we do it? • To be indifferent to injustice is to condone it • To enjoy privilege without questioning it is to reinforce it • Do we really want to be colour-blind? • Transformation can take place through education • Whites must become part of the equation • This is not about simply making things better for racial minorities; Whites also benefit from more collective engagement and social justice


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