Witnessing Whiteness; Racist Course Teaches Students How to ‘Transform White Culture Overall’


This summer, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs is offering another educational workshop teaching people how awful being white is. “Witnessing Whiteness” is a course to ‘interrupt white privilege and racism’ and will be covering topics such as culture and appropriation, history of whiteness, racial identity, privilege and cultural change.

All of the Course materials are available online, and there is a lot to go through if you’re brave enough, including a worksheet that shows some of the exercises of this course such as individual journaling for 5 minutes about how your ‘life reflects a dominant white culture in the U.S’ and group activities imagining what a ‘new culture’ might look like.

The radical workshop states:

“The goal: Transform the current, dominant form of white culture into an antiracist white
culture that regularly names and dismantles racism and white privilege. This work may be started
at home, extended into our social lives, and infused into our work settings. This is long-range work.
Transforming culture understandably requires much time and collective effort. But, in the midst of
our individual struggle, we must simultaneously hold a larger view of our collective role. Yes, we
may start this work with a small circle of friends, family, and colleagues. However, our ultimate goal
must remain the transformation of white culture overall.”

The course was created by Shelly Tochluk, and is based on the book she wrote entitled: Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It. In their article on the course, Campus Reform describes the traits that Tochluk believes are characteristic of white culture such as “individualism, consumerism, meritocracy as an ideal, superficiality, competition, ambition, productivity, [and] extreme exploitation of labor/resources for profit.”

This course also includes things like a survey entitled: “How Segregated is My Life,” and another Worksheet on Culture, Tradition, and Appropriation goes on to describe how white cultural explorations can be perceived as oppressive and features another cringy quote from the book that states:

“I benefit when feeling connected to something ancient, like when I read old Germanic fairytales and feel somehow related to them. I will continue exploring my ethnicity as I move forward, searching for fragments of a culture long lost to my family— For the truth is that my cultural connection is lost; I am not German. That culture is too disconnected. My Germanness was traded in long ago for the benefits available in this country for European immigrants able to fit into the white group. Feeling connected with my ancestry is essential, but I cannot kid myself into believing that I share the same culture as contemporary Germans. I do not…. “

Shelly Tochluk is a professor at Mount Saint Mary’s University in California, the creator of the “Unmasking Whiteness” conference and according to her Twitter, “Invested in healing racial wounds.”