Why Oregon's largest college is hosting its first Whiteness History Month.

Whiteness is very much a thing. That much we know.

GIF via Snuggie.


But whiteness is not simply "being white." Whiteness refers to the often invisible yet elaborate and pervasive system of privilege afforded to white people in our country and much of the world. Those with privilege, whether they want to or not, receive advantages and decision-making power in the media, private sector, judicial system, and policymaking. The idea of whiteness is ingrained in our systems and ways of thinking, and it has numerous cultural, economic, and legal consequences.

As far as cities go, it doesn't get much whiter than Portland, Oregon.

Photo by iStock.

As a new resident of Portland, I've quickly learned it's much more than brunch, beer, and bikes. Portland is home to great soccer, delicious food, and so, so, so many white people.

In fact, 76% of Portland is white, making Portland the whitest big city in the United States.

That's why for the first time ever, Portland Community College is offering a Whiteness History Month.

Developed by a subcommittee of the PCC Cascade Campus Diversity Council, the project, officially titled Whiteness History Month: Context, Consequences, and Change, is a month of programs and events to explore the origins of whiteness and its impact on the campus community and culture.

To be clear, Whiteness History Month is not a celebration of white power and privilege, nor is it Black History Month for white people.

The goal of Whiteness History Month is not to open old wounds or point fingers for the heck of it. Instead, the goal of the project is to develop new solutions to societal and community problems that are born of racism and privilege.

Big problems like over-policing, and small problems like the fact that when I went looking for a stock photo of a "college classroom" the first photo that came up was literally all white students:

Photo by iStock.

PCC's planning committee is currently soliciting programming ideas from students, faculty, and the community for the month-long event.

PCC is Oregon's largest post-secondary educational institution, serving over 90,000 students across four campuses and eight specialized centers. Programming for Whiteness History Month, to be held this April, will take place at all four campuses and may include discussions, lectures, films, presentations, artwork, and even plays.

It's all in an effort to spark dialogue, improve campus climate, promote student retention, and build partnerships in the community.

"Join us! When they're not shooting at us, it's fun over here." Photo by iStock.

Though the goals are admirable, some are calling the month-long diversity initiative "white-shaming."

GIF via Erykah Badu's "On & On."

And sadly, those voices are missing the point.

Whiteness History Month is not an attempt to shame white people for colonialism, racism, or even having privilege.

It is, however, an effort to get a very important conversation happening — one that is often derailed because we have difficulty talking about race or prefer to advocate for "colorblindness."

But when unarmed black people, even children, are gunned down by the police; when black people continue to die in jail cells under suspicious circumstances; when applicants with "ethnic-sounding" names are less likely to get job interviews; when being black is akin to having a credit score 71 points lower in the eyes of mortgage lenders; when transgender women of color are murdered at an alarming rate; when not one person of color is nominated for an acting Academy Award; when people in the 21st century are still dressing in black face; when protestors have to block shoppers and travelers to get people to pay attention to their messages; when I wake up every day as a woman of color hoping my name's not a hashtag by sundown, maybe, just maybe there's a problem here.

We can't fix racism until we can talk about how going through life with white skin is different from going through life with dark skin, and Whiteness History Month seeks to open the doors to exploring those differences so that we can at least have those conversations.

Demonstrators marching for an end to gun violence and the resignation of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Racism is in our neighborhoods, our courtrooms, our boardrooms. Much of it stems from whiteness and the inequality it creates and perpetuates, knowingly or not. We're not going to be able to tackle those problems until we acknowledge that the system isn't set up for everyone to get a fair shot.

As #BlackLivesMatter activist DeRay Mckesson suggests, those with privilege need to acknowledge it exists and use it to signal boost voices that too often go unheard.

While the name could use some work, Whiteness History Month has the potential to raise awareness of this important issue.

Portland Community College, a major employer and place of higher learning for the Pacific Northwest, deserves applause for taking bold steps to address the problem of racism and oppression in the campus community.

Real change isn't going to happen until we have some tough conversations and begin working together.

This inaugural event may not bring an end to all racism everywhere (that's a very tall order) but it's a much needed start.

A woman holds a sign with a quote from MLK during a march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images.

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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Kara Coley, a bartender at Sipps in Gulfport, Mississippi, got an unusual phone call on the job last week.

Photo courtesy of Kara Coley.

"Good evening," Coley answered. "Thank you for calling Sipps!"

A woman on the other end of the line asked, "Is this a gay bar?"

Sipps welcomes everyone, Coley explained to her, but indeed attracts a mostly LGBTQ crowd.



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A disturbing joint report by USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found that tens of thousands of pets have been harmed by Seresto flea and tick collars. Seresto was developed by Bayer and is now sold by Elanco.

Since Seresto flea collars were introduced in 2012, the EPA has received incident reports of at least 1,698 pet deaths linked to the product. Through June 2020, the EPA has received over 75,000 incident reports relating to the collars with over 1,000 involving human harm.

The EPA has known the collars are harming humans and their pets but failed to tell the public about the dangers.

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