Portland Community College to host 'Whiteness History Month' in April

PCC's North Portland campus (Photo: KATU's Emily Sinovic)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Community College is planning to host "Whiteness History Month" in April, in an effort to "explore the construction of whiteness, its origins and heritage."

There's no information yet on specific events, but an eight-person campus diversity council says it'll focus on "whiteness as a social construct" and the month won't be a celebratory endeavor.

PCC Dean of Instruction Kurt Simonds says the aim of the project is to advance race relations at PCC and beyond.

"I think we need to clarify the purpose of the 'Whiteness History Month' project. It's an invitation to a dialogue about whiteness... the construction of whiteness, politically and socially," Simonds said. "We want to diversify our faculty and staff. We think that's appropriate, and if there are concerns about campus climate we want to know them and address them."

PCC students, like Bri Williams, say there's a need for this kind of discussion.

"I think at this point in time, a lot of people don't want to talk about it because it's ugly... but it's necessary. It's happening. We're in a city that's heavily gentrified," Williams said.

The group behind the project says racial tensions remain even after Black History Month was recognized in the 1970s.

"Nearly ninety years after [Dr. Carter] Woodson's global inspiration (week-long observance for black Americans), colleges across the country continue to struggle to improve diversity, inclusion, and racial equity," they wrote.

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