Calif. students learn ‘construction of whiteness’

A California university offers courses focused on “whiteness” and “white privilege” for the 2018-2019 school year.

California State University-San Marcos is offering courses in communications and sociology titled COMM 454 “The Communication of Whiteness” and SOC 463 “Seminar in White Privilege,” respectively. 

“The Communication of Whiteness” reviews ideas surrounding “whiteness as a discursive (communicative) construct and the key role that communication plays in the construction of whiteness.” The communications course also examines how whiteness relates to power and the social, cultural, and historical context that surrounds it. 

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One CSU San Marcos student, Sonya Makkanji, wrote an op-ed recommending the class in the school’s student newspaper, The Cougar Chronicle.

“This class has opened my eyes to seeing racism from a white point of view in discussions with my classmates and shared stories within the safe zone of our classroom,” Makkanji wrote. 

”We started class with a reflection week, a time for us to recall points in our lives had been impacted the most in terms of race. I had plenty of stories, name calling, decisions made for me based on my skin color and a few happier stories on how my ethnicity was appreciated,” Makkanji added.

The “Seminar in White Privilege” sociology course looks at, through a critical lens, the “construction of whiteness in terms of privilege, racism, and notions of supremacy.” The class also reviews texts that tackle the meaning of “whiteness” in the United States, and how white privilege is created in “institutional practices and social interactions.”

The “Seminar in White Privilege” course overview describes whites as a “privileged identity, group, culture, and status.” 

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Both courses require prerequisites on topics concerning racial studies to enroll and are not open to first-year students.

CSU San Marcos told Campus Reform in a statement, “California State University San Marcos has a longstanding commitment to diversity, educational equity, and social justice. This commitment comes to life through a myriad of initiatives, events, courses, and programs as the University works to promote a fair and open environment for the exchange of ideas.”

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