Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Got Privilege?

The 12th annual White Privilege Conference opens today here in Minneapolis. We were honored to have one our contributors be asked to appear at the conference to debate the “pro” white privilege position. Unfortunately, due to his busy schedule this week, the Nihilist in Golf Pants is not able to make it. What with golf at the club with the old boys, exercising his stock options, and driving his gas guzzling SUV around town yelling “get a job!” at the homeless, the Nihilist can barely fit enough oppression into his agenda the way it is. As disappointed as I’m sure he is at missing out on all the fun, at least he’ll have some new hats to wear courtesy of the conference.

UPDATE--A further look at some of the White Privilege Conference Workshops helps us really understand what the Nihilist will be missing:

Acting White: Exploring Identity and Privilege Through Performance – All Levels - Facilitators: Ariel Luckey and Chelsea Gregory

This institute is designed for those who identify as white to explore identity, family history and skin privilege through music, poetry, movement and theater. Participants will experience excerpts of theatrical work and discuss the role the arts have played in these conversations throughout history. We will then work through story circle, writing and improv to develop individual pieces, and have the option to develop a group theater piece to present to other conference attendees.

Nobody loves good improv more than the Nihilist.

Beyond Empire: A Necessary Step In Ending Racism, White Privilege and White Supremacy – Intermediate-Advance - Facilitator: Heather Hackman

This institute begins by defining empire and examining its tools such as colonialism, militarism and genocide, and then explores the history of U.S. imperialism, for example, as it relates to the interdependent forces of Whiteness (white privilege and white supremacy), Classism, and Christian hegemony. It then introduces and examines more closely the systems in the U.S. (e.g. education, media) that serve to further legitimize white privilege and racism (and class and religious privilege) via U.S. imperialism and colonialism. Having laid this intersectional foundation in the first portion of the day, the latter half of the workshop asks participants to consider the implications of the above dynamics on their understanding of themselves, their bodies, their communities, the land they live and work on, and the nation to which they belong all in the service of ending racism and dismantling white privilege. Though it may seem heavily theoretical, this workshop is highly discursive and experiential in order to ground the theoretical learning in participant lived experiences.

Theoretical? Not in the least. Sounds perfectly applicable to day to day life.

Communicating about Race and White Privilege, Using Critical Humility: Experiential Workshop – Intermediate-Advance - Facilitators: European-American Collaborative Challenging Whiteness (Elizabeth Kasl, Penny Rosenwasser and Linda Sartor)

Are you looking for an inviting place as a white activist to be challenged — and to be supported — in honing your communications skills with other white folks? Especially about white privilege and racism? We'll spend the day using experiential processes to practice what we call critical humility: a way of communicating with confidence while remembering that what we know is always evolving, and there is a lot we don't know. Focused on taking action, critical humility is a reflective process that can be applied both personally and institutionally. In small groups we will use simultaneous role-play, a process that gives everyone the opportunity to engage emotionally, which boosts our learning. In whole group discussions, we’ll try to discover gaps between our values and our actions, our talk and our walk.

Critical humility? I think we can all agree that the Nihilist could use a healthy dose of that.

Still Asking, “What’s In It For Us?”: A Revised Institute for People of Color – All Levels – Facilitators: Pamela Smith Chambers, Robin Parker and Jorge Zeballos

Although persons of color who have attended past WPCs acknowledge that cross-racial collaboration is crucial, they have also found that too little attention is focused on the intellectual, spiritual, physical and emotional toll the work takes on people of color at the conference and beyond. In this updated institute, we will investigate the consequences of working with white people who are struggling to come to terms with white privilege. Special emphasis will be placed on having people of color tell their stories about cross-race interactions as a way to better prepare ourselves for WPC 12.

Damnit, we're just not talking enough about how all this white privilege stuff impacts minorities! I mean we have a three-day conference to talk about nothing but that, but it's still not enough.

Global White Privilege: Israel/Palestine and Beyond - Beginner - Facilitators: Paul Kivel, Adrien Wing, Amer Ahmed, Linda Sartor and Elizabeth Schulman

The institute will outline the historical context that laid the groundwork for modern day global White Privilege. The pervasiveness of White Privilege in global politics will be highlighted using examples of recent international conflicts; presenters will guide the audience through the White Privilege landscape in Africa and the Muslim world. Finally, the institute will explore how the global acceptance of White Privilege has bred the conflict in Israel/Palestine.

Proving again that it's impossible for any group of leftists to get together for any length of time to talk about anything without eventually coming around to bash Israel. Best of all? If you're a high school or college student, you can get academic credit for attending the conference.

SISYPHUS ADDS: The Elder is being unkind to the Nihilist. The Nihilist hates ALL poor people, not just the non-white poor. Also, how can any conference of this sort be taken seriously when there are no consciousness raising puppet shows?

THE NIHILIST ADDS I'm taking a break from my problems of privilege to comment: I'm not really fond of the middle class either. Now on to something more important: Do I have the steak or the shrimp? The answer: surf and turf!