Letter to the editor: Examining white privilege, identity

Faculty and Staff, Examining White Identity in a Multicultural World

We, the faculty and staff of Examining White Identity in a Multicultural World retreat, are writing to demonstrate our support for the students of color at OSU, including those who shared their stories at the Speak Out event on Nov.16, and for all of our colleagues of color. In hearing your courageous words, and witnessing the further instances of racism in response to those words, we realize that there is so much more work to be done on campus. We recognize that we need to be better partners and to do more to make effective change. We want an Oregon State University that is safe, just, and welcoming for all. We are failing as a community when students, faculty, and staff have a limited understanding of race and, regardless of intentions, our impact on others.

To our fellow white students and colleagues: It is normal to want to distance ourselves from descriptions of racism that seem contradictory to our own experiences and perceptions. Whether embedded in systems, institutions, culture, or individual actions, racism is often invisible to us as white people. And it can be difficult, confusing, and frustrating to hear that we may be contributing to problems that do not reflect our values or that seem beyond our control. But we must push through that discomfort. The violence, daily microaggressions, and institutionalized racism that people of color experience in our community are unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is when the stories that people of color have shared are met with denial, minimization, hate speech, and other behaviors that exemplify the very culture and climate that have been described. Since we all want a better OSU, we, as white people, must be engaged in resolving these issues.

We encourage all of our fellow white students and colleagues to listen to OSU’s students, faculty, and staff of color. We encourage you to seek out the many resources available at OSU to learn about white privilege and social change. If you would like to talk with any of us about these issues, we would love to connect with you. This is a vital and ongoing conversation that affects our entire community. We commit ourselves to doing better, and we invite you to take this opportunity to do better, too.

Examining White Identity in a Multicultural World retreat faculty and staff:

Becky Evans, Courtney Garcia, Alex Matiash, Willie Morgan, Raphelle Rhoads, Michele Ribeiro, James Van Dyke, Rachael Weber, Melissa Yamamoto

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views of The Daily Barometer staff.