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2013 Winter Issue 3 (February 1, 2013)

Rethinking the Meaning of Race at Carleton

February 1, 2013
By Claire Su

What are examples of racism in real life? What is white privilege? Students explored and reflected on these questions through the Rethinking Race Workshop, which took place both Saturday and Tuesday night.

The workshop was designed and conducted by senior psychology major Caitlin Wood ‘13  as a potential comps project. “Before coming to Carleton I did not think very much about the issues of race, but I have learned so much over the course of my time here that I want to do something about what I’ve acquired,” she said.

To warm up, participants discussed their previous experience with questions such as “When did you realize that there are people of different race than you?” One student remarked that, “people from a more diverse racial background seem to become aware of race earlier.”

Participants then were asked questions regarding their different identities such as race, sex, and ability.  
They were then requested to evaluate these identities by picking which identity they feel the most safe in and most threatened in.  Many later expressed appreciation for this activity saying that, “although it was weird to rank one’s identities, it is also very thought-provoking.”

This gave way to more discussion on racism, especially white privilege. Participants first read through a list of white privileges, excerpts from an essay by Peggy McIntosh.  

Discussions also surrounded real-life examples of racism. “The small interactions that degrade one’s race can pile up and become one’s last straw,” Wood said.

In order to prevent that and also to stop racism, the group brainstormed on ways to be a good ally. As the workshop drew to an end, many felt that they learned a lot and were inspired to be more active allies.  

Students vowed to “own up to mistakes and apologize” and to “continue to question, reflect on, and educate” themselves.

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