Campus Will Host a ‘Violence of Whiteness’ Talk (Yes, for Real)
Professor is scheduled to discuss the 'existential threat' that this 'elephant in the room' represents across the United States
Beloit College associate professor of anthropology Lisa Anderson-Levy, on the invitation of the University of Minnesota (UMN), will address students and faculty on March 22 about her areas of expertise.
Her topics include “dismantling whiteness,” “decentering whiteness” (due to the “urgent social dilemmas” it represents) — and the “existential threat” that whiteness represents for social, political, and economic life in the U.S., as a piece in Campus Reform made clear.
The lecture, which the school’s website says is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. that day and is entitled “The Elephant in the Room: A ‘Grown-Up’ Conversation about Whiteness,” is offered as part of UMN’s Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC) Alumni Lecture Series, and is co-sponsored by UMN’s Race, Indigeneity, Gender and Sexuality Studies initiative in UMN’s College of Liberal Arts.
A professor at Beloit College since 2008, Anderson-Levy has general interests, according to her page on Beloit’s website, that include “activist anthropology,” “critical race theory,” and “transnational whiteness.”
A small, private school in Wisconsin, Beloit has an undergraduate enrollment of 1,394, according to U.S. News & World Report. Tuition and fees for the 2017-18 year are $48,706, and Beloit’s overall score in U.S. News’ Best Colleges Rankings is 61 out of 100.
Anderson-Levy's bio on the Beloit website includes a section that describes her teaching philosophy as a "political act." It's "one that transforms both teacher and student. [It's] political because the production of knowledge involves choices about which voices get heard, which are suppressed, and which are ignored completely," the description says.
Ironically, the University of Minnesota was threatened with a lawsuit by the conservative Young America's Foundation (YAF) and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in late February. The suit alleges that the school's refusal to provide appropriate accommodations for an invited lecture by conservative and best-selling author Ben Shapiro resulted in disparate treatment of conservative students on campus.
The ADF also alleges that the University of Minnesota deprived Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV) — the organization that requested Shapiro's appearance — of its constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment rights when the school denied the group equal access to a campus facility at which interested students could gather to hear Shapiro's lecture.
Interestingly, the University of Minnesota's Women's Center scheduled an event to compete with Shapiro's February 26 appearance. It was titled "White Supremacy in the Age of Trump: An Anti-Racist Teach-In."
There's also an interesting twist to note about the latest "whiteness" lecture: In its original report about Anderson-Levy's lecture, Campus Reform linked to a description of the event on the University of Minnesota's webpage. From the linked page, the site quoted the following: "This presentation explores the ubiquity and violence of whiteness and the ways in which academic institutions are poised to either reproduce or interrupt these discourse."
As of today — Thursday, March 15 — that specific verbiage does not appear in the official description. Notably, the "violence of whiteness" phrase, which also appeared in the headline of Campus Reform's piece, seems to have disappeared. A Google search for the phrase, however, indicates that the phrase did indeed appear on the University of Minnesota's event description six days ago.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.
(photo credit, homepage image: Burton Hall University of Minnesota, CC BY-SA 3.0, by AlexiusHoratius; photo credit, article image: University of Minnesota Entrance Sign, CC BY-SA 3.0, by AlexiusHoratius)