Stanford University Introduces Course on ‘Abolishing Whiteness’

Stanford University will introduce a course this fall which will task students with considering “abolishing whiteness” and the ultimate goal of understanding “what is the future of whiteness,” according to the institution’s course catalog.

The course, which is entitled “White Identity Politics,” will be taught by instructor John Patrick Moran, and analyze the “future of whiteness.” For the uninitiated, the concept of “whiteness” refers to the social aspect of race. According to the University of Calgary, “whiteness” is a socially and politically constructed learned behavior built upon the systematic privileges afforded to whites in Western society.

The Stanford course looks to abolish this social concept of “whiteness” through an analysis of what the course description alleges is “the rise of white identity politics in the United States” as a result of the 2016 Presidential election. Stanford Professor Tomás Jiménez explained that “whiteness” refers to “the set of behaviors and outlooks associated with the racial category, white.”

Pundits proclaim that the 2016 Presidential election marks the rise of white identity politics in the United States. Drawing from the field of whiteness studies and from contemporary writings that push whiteness studies in new directions, this upper-level seminar asks, does white identity politics exist? How is a concept like white identity to be understood in relation to white nationalism, white supremacy, white privilege, and whiteness? We will survey the field of whiteness studies, scholarship on the intersection of race, class, and geography, and writings on whiteness in the United States by contemporary public thinkers, to critically interrogate the terms used to describe whiteness and white identities. Students will consider the perils and possibilities of different political practices, including abolishing whiteness or coming to terms with white identity. What is the future of whiteness?

Ernest Miranda, a spokesperson for Stanford, told the College Fix that “abolishing whiteness” is a concept devised in the 1990s to encourage whites in the Western world to stop identifying as white in order to help end inequalities.

Harvard scholar Noel Ignatiev spoke about the concept of “whiteness” in a documentary on campus radicalism. He argued that “whiteness is a form of racial oppression,” and that “there can be no white race without the phenomenon of white supremacists.”

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