'Whiteness History Month' Speaker Calls for 'Whiteness' to be 'Demolished'; 'We Can Live in a World Without It'

Black Professor Says "A World Without Whiteness" Is "A World Without Conflict."
Christopher Menahan

Apr. 05, 2016

Speaking at Portland Community College during "Whiteness History Month," professor James Harrison gave a talk titled "Imagine A World Without Whiteness" where he said "a world without whiteness" is "a world without conflict" and called for "whiteness" to be "demolish[ed]," insisting "we can live in a world without [it]."

Professor Harrison began his speech musing about the meaning of John Lennon's song "Imagine."

"Imagine everyone living together in peace," he says.

"That would be not necessarily a perfect world, but a good world."

"And 'how do we get to that good world?' is the question -- a world without conflict."

"And to me, my interpretation of these words, is it would be a world, or U.S., without whiteness, in terms of the power structure."

"And so then, the question would be, what is whiteness."

"It's a social category, for one," he says.

"A social category -- if there's any sociologists here, don't correct me [laughs] -- it's a group of people who share common characteristics, but may never interact with one another, but they are a social category."

"So whiteness, white people, share a whole lot of things, even if they don't interact, and one thing that they share is whiteness, or white privilege."

Harrison goes on to explain how a "poor white person" is "privileged," while he as a college professor living off taxpayer money is not because he's "been followed around in stores," and suspected of being a thief.

Harrison finishes his speech by calling for "whiteness" to be "dismantle[d]" and "demolish[ed]."

"Can we live in a world without whiteness?" he asks.

"My answer is yes, we can, because it's happened before, and it all revolves around individuals taking small steps, to dismantle, and demolish the whole concept."

"You need to take the time to read more about whiteness, and what it does, so that when people speak with you, you can speak intelligently about whiteness, that you know something about it, and that you know how to personally begin to demolish it."

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