Course at Portland State U. seeks to ‘make whiteness strange’

Course at Portland State U. seeks to ‘make whiteness strange’

With Caucasians still comprising 78% of the U.S. population, a course being offering at Portland State University should be seen as at best a work in progress. The course, taught by Professor Rachel Sanders and titled “White Privilege,” has as its expressed outcome the dismantling of whiteness as a step toward “racial justice.”

As the syllabus for the course explains:

Whiteness is the lynchpin of structures of racial meaning and racial inequality in the United States. To preserve whiteness is to preserve racial injustice. In this seminar we will examine the historical development and contemporary dynamics of racial inequality through the lens of white privilege. We will endeavor to ‘make whiteness strange’ – that is, to interrogate whiteness as an unstable legal, political, social, and cultural construction that confers both material and psychological benefits to individuals who identify, or are identified, as white.

The secondary goal of “making whiteness strange” sounds from the elaboration as though it could just as easily have been written as “making whiteness the enemy.”

According to Campus Reform:

The course readings and concepts are drawn, in part, from the field of “critical race theory.” According to Harvard University, critical race theory “combine[s] progressive political struggles for racial justice with critiques of the conventional legal and scholarly norms which are themselves viewed as part of the illegitimate hierarchies that need to be changed.”


Students taking the course will also study the literary work of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who referred to the 9/11 first responders as “menaces of nature” in his latest book. In addition to reading the work of Mr. Coates, students will consider questions such as “[w]hat is white normativity, and how does it interact with other normative orders, including male normativity and heteronormativity?”

News of this exciting, mind-expanding academic offering comes on the heels of a report that #BlackLivesMatter luminary DeRay McKesson is including in his one-credit course at Yale a defense of looting.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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