White Affirmative Action Archives - Point Made Learning

Here’s what we read and listened to this week to stay informed about issues or equity and identity – everything from a new study showing how we should approach changing minds to the ways racism infects our health, our children’s literature, and even our comic books! Keep reading to learn about what we learned this week.

From Barb Lee

Racism Is Damaging Our Health

There are many research studies that have confirmed this, but here is the latest and the data is clear. This audio file has Harvard researcher David Williams laying down the national data (not sample data) about race in the U.S. Here’s one striking data point: In the top 171 major cities in the U.S., not a single one had the majority of whites living under the same residential quality as that of blacks. Furthermore, the worst conditions for whites were still better than the worst conditions for blacks. I had to stop the recording, rewind, and play again several times because this presentation was so chock full of important data points. The good news is, he’s suggesting solutions for change, too!  I felt inspired – instead of only bummed out – by this.

Dr. Seuss? No!

Racism Revealed in Dr. Seuss’ Work

Cover image of The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Racism in our favorite Dr. Seuss books? No!

Uh oh. This is going to p*ss some people off!!  “What?!  Now, Dr. Seuss is a racist?!  Come on!”  This is an interesting article about a book that will tear at some of our most nostalgic memories and nobody likes anyone who does that. It’s hard to reframe and re-contextualize good memories with the racism that was clearly infused in everything around us.

I remember when I first went back as an adult to read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to my then young daughter. I was shocked by the casual colonial interactions of Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loopas. Noooo! Not Willy Wonka! I love that book. It was the first book I remember my mom reading to me and I have such rare and wonderful memories associated with the story of Mr. Wonka and all those kids and parents… and the Oompa Loompas, too. In fact, I still have that very book on one of my book shelves with other cherished children’s novels.

But I have to be honest about it. Then, I can extract all the good, recognize the bad and, most importantly, not perpetuate it with the next generation. I read the book to my daughter and introduced the concepts of colonialism and paternalism. She was young, but she understood what those concepts mean. We all do.

Majority of White Americans Feel Discriminated Against Because of Their Race and Some Say They Lose Out On Jobs Because of It

This research helps inspire me to continue teaching people about the difference between personal bigotry and institutional racism. And, I’m reminded of the saying, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

All Muslims are often blamed for single acts of terror. Psychology explains how to stop it.

We posted this on Facebook this week, but it’s worth posting here again because it’s so in line with the work we try and do in our workshops. We see over and over again how so many Americans and the media blame all Muslims for one individual’s act of terror. Moreover, we never do the same with all white people when one white man commits a mass shooting. So how do we try to interrupt this dangerous pattern? First of all, we can point out the hypocrisy when we see people doing this. This Vox piece details a new study showing how effective that tactic is for changing minds and hearts (in that order!) If you’re looking for the most effective ways to shift perspectives, do not miss this fascinating article.

From Deionna Wilburn

New Marvel Comics EIC C.B. Cebulski Admits He Wrote As “Akira Yoshida” 13 Years Ago

The new Editor-in-Chief for Marvel Comics wrote on his twitter feed yesterday, “Breaking into, and staying in, comics, in any capacity, is just as much about attitude as it is about ability.”  By attitude and ability, I’m assuming Cebulski means being a white man, but pretending to be a Japanese comic book writer by the name of Akira Yoshida. What’s most infuriating, Cebulski defrauded Marvel and his audience from 2005 to 2006 – even creating an elaborate backstory for the fictional Japanese man during a time when Marvel claimed to be actively looking for diversity in their writers. In the article, Cebulski is unapologetic and seems almost completely unbothered. And why shouldn’t he be? Again, he’s Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief.

More From Barb Lee!

White Racism Course Sparks Controversy at Florida Gulf Coast University

You can’t judge a book by its title and you can’t judge a course by its title, either.  My only issue is that the professor doesn’t need the word “white” in the title – not in the U.S.

Corporate America: Get Ready for Trans Employees

We aren’t even CLOSE to ready!

Racism Is Stopping Black Men From Solving Our Nursing Shortage

Any human being who has the skills to be a nurse should run to nursing school now. The contributions of good, skilled nurses is immeasurable. I was reminded of this fact this summer when my daughter was hospitalized for a major surgery. Because the humanity involved in being a nurse transcends any racial category, we should embrace any human being who can do this job.

We know there are so many resources on the topics of race, identity, antiracism, and equity that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing each week a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps and feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

How America Spreads the Disease that is Racism by not Confronting Racist Family Members and Friends

Scale showing ranges of racist beliefs and behavior. We've learned we can't think of racism in binary terms; it's a spectrum.
Racism Scale: Where do you fall? We’ve learned over the years that we can’t think of racism in binary terms (you’re either racist or you’re not). Source: https://racismscale.weebly.com/

I think the chart in this article says so much. And the author reminds us that we have to stand up at all times and all the time. I definitely had to check my own conscience. I remember a specific time when I was a guest at another family member’s house. Their grandfather, who was in his 90s, made a hateful comment and I didn’t take a stand. Should I have ruined Easter? You bet I should have. Instead, those family members have memories of a nice family gathering and I have memories of when I didn’t have personal integrity.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

This American Life – White Haze
I’ve been getting caught up on This American Life. This episode – White Haze – aired in September, but it’s still timely and relevant. In the wake of the events in Charlottesville last August, the episode’s producers dive in to right-wing and white supremacist organizations. The revelations in the first act are disturbing and, at times, just plain bizarre. In the second act, producer Robyn Semien interviews Jason Kessler, the man who organized the Charlottesville rally. It was one of those stories I stayed in my car to finish, even though I was already home. And I found the ending to be chilling.

This episode wasn’t just some look inside a freak show for me. I found it a necessary glimpse into the mindset of the people involved in these types of groups – especially because most of them say they aren’t racist. As producer Robyn Semien concludes, these aren’t people who are trying to hold on to their power; they actually don’t believe they have any. And they’re out to get it. Facing people who feel they have nothing to lose is a much different – and scarier – type of fight.

Radical Copyeditor
If you’re new to thinking about race and racism, this resource might not be the place to start. But if you’ve been at this for a while, and if you’re interested in the language we use when discussing issues of identity, check this site out. It completely speaks to the copyediting geek in me. And it presents incredible lessons about how to use language with more accuracy and inclusion. Check out the posts on Why it’s incredibly problematic to call white supremacists insane and Why we need to stop saying ‘politically correct’. These are just two of many insightful, easy-to-read, and incredibly instructive posts. This will now be a regular read for me!

From Sam Rosenthal

Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced
This GQ “Citizen of the Year” profile on Colin Kaepernick is remarkable for many reasons. But perhaps the most important reason is that Kaepernick doesn’t make a single on-the-record quote in the entire article. This is intentional. As the author of the article describes it: “As his public identity has begun to shift from football star to embattled activist, he has grown wise to the power of his silence.” Instead of an interview, the magazine has published a photo essay accompanied by powerful quotes about Kaepernick by those who know him.

It’s hard to put into words the feelings this video conjures, as a Jewish person and a human being. The woman being interviewed did not only survive Auschwitz, but also the horrific medical experiments performed by the infamous doctor Josef Mengele. In the video, she describes what happened to her and her family at Auschwitz, as well as her experience after the war. Ultimately, she got in touch with a different former Nazi doctor, and the two of them went back to Auschwitz together — he to apologize, and she to accept his apology. Her decision to forgive this man is a painful one for many Jews (she describes how the Holocaust survivors’ community ostracized her for doing it). But at heart, it is an incredible lesson on the healing power that forgiveness can have on one’s soul.
Each week, we want to share with you what we’ve learned. Because at Point Made Learning, when it comes to the topics of race, identity, and equity in the U.S., we are subject-matter learners. Not experts. In fact, we think these issues are so complex that the best any of us can hope for is to continue learning. As a team, we consistently challenge one another to stay curious and question our own thinking. That’s because we ask people in our screenings and workshops to do the same thing.
As much as we learned this week, we have so much to unlearn.
As much as we learned this week, there’s still so much to unlearn. As seen on an Upper West Side NYC sidewalk.

We know there are so many resources available that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps you continue learning, too. And feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

We’re All Mad Here: Weinstein, Women, and the Language of Lunacy

“He has demons.” The language of madness is the last resort for a society that can no longer deny the evidence of structural oppression and violence.

We have always used the word crazy to minimize people.  Now, it’s a way to explain things that really are about our values. I like this author’s voice of holding us accountable for what we say and what we do.

When I was nineteen years old, Elie Wiesel grabbed my ass.

It’s not just losing heroes. It’s that we have to see just how systemic issues of discrimination are in our society. They run deep and we all need to do some personal inventory to unlearn how to protect everyone and everything except the victim.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

A new survey shows white millennials think a lot more like whites than millennials

We’ve noticed over the past several years at our workshops that younger generations aren’t quite the antiracist superheroes they’re often made out to be. We older folks like to leave progress up to “the next generation” as if they’re magically going to know how to deconstruct systems of oppression. That can’t happen if we don’t have important conversations, dig in to expert analysis, and really start to change the laws, policies, and practices that fuel oppression.

But here’s another problem: If more white people don’t look deeper within ourselves to get clear on our biases and blind spots, then we won’t find the motivation to participate in antiracism work. This article highlights some key findings by a recent study: “The ‘Woke’ Generation?: Millenial Attitudes on Race in the US” and it’s pretty troubling. The question mark in the study title is the first clue. This is an important read to understand how much work needs to be done. We’ve got to work on building greater awareness AND bridging the chasm between how white people perceive race in the US and how people of color are experiencing it.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has an incredibly clear explanation for why white people shouldn’t use the n-word

To be perfectly forthcoming, I have a hard time finding patience anymore when people ask me at I’m Not Racist… Am I? screenings why white people can’t say the “N Word.” Young people, especially, want to know why they can’t say it when singing along to their favorite songs. Now I can point people toward this video. In it, Ta-Nehisi Coates responds to a question from a young woman looking for advice on how best to respond to that question. This is the best explanation I’ve ever heard and, of course, it’s about so much more than just who can/can’t say the “N Word.” We shared this over on our Facebook page earlier this week and it’s so incredibly brilliant in its simplicity and insight, that it’s worth sharing again. I encourage everyone to watch and share this.

The Democratic Party owes black female voters a big ‘thank you’

Yes to all of this! The Democratic party would be nowhere without black women voters – and not just their votes, but their contribution to analysis, policy, and organizing. And still, the party takes them for granted as a constituency while falling over itself to win over the white working class. This article provides a lot of compelling data on this week’s election results that prove how vital black women are to Democrats. The article ends with this critical point: “With the support of black women being a key piece of the Democratic Party’s Election Day successes, the question now is: Will the Democratic Party show its support for them?”

From Deionna Wilburn

Miscarriages in Flint: ‘I Really Believe It’s the Water’

Pollution and poverty are so prevalent in low-income communities of color that it boggles the mind. Flint, Michigan is back in the news because people want answers as to what exactly their water issues are doing to their bodies.


Implicit bias is real despite studies trying to diminish or outright debunk its effect on our daily lives. It appears that not only do I have to be wary of driving while black, but walking while black is now a thing, too. Sigh.

From Sam Rosenthal

If the Texas Church Shooter Wasn’t White

This article looks at how the Texas Church Shooter’s whiteness plays a critical role in how we view his violence. So far, authorities haven’t labeled Devin Patrick Kelley a terrorist. Moreover, white people as a whole haven’t been held responsible in any way for Kelley’s actions. If Kelley had been Muslim, Latino, or Black, however, this would likely be playing out very differently.

From Emily Martinez

How Temporary Work Visas Hurt Migrant Women

Migrant women joining the American workforce face a unique combination of obstacles. And this reality doesn’t appear to be improving anytime soon. We see this play out in our life-size version of the American Dream Board Game – one of the game’s characters just can’t get ahead or catch a break no matter what she does or what kind of help she’s offered. And while that’s just a game, the issue is very real. This article sheds important light on this under-reported issue.
We say all the time at Point Made Learning that, when it comes to the topics of race, identity, and equity in the U.S., we are subject-matter learners. Not experts. In fact, we think these issues are so complex that the best any of us can hope for is to continue learning. As a team, we consistently challenge one another to stay curious and question our own thinking. That’s because we ask people in our screenings and workshops to do the same thing. So each week, we’d like to share with you what we’ve learned.
What we've learned: collection of books on race and racism
What we’ve learned about race and racism started with these books.

We know there are so many resources available that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps you continue learning, too. And feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

First Person: Sexual Harassers Are Poisonous, and So Are the Companies That Protect Them – IndieWire

This article gets to the institutional power of sexism in the workplace. The author – a friend of mine – points out the pervasive use of non-disclosure agreements and how they silence sexual assault victims.  More than that, they’re designed to protect criminals. Reading this may help people think about ways we misuse power to maintain systemic and institutional racism, too. That’s my hope, at least.

For Guys Reading #MeToo Testimonies – On Being

I like this article because it so aligns with how white people can approach anti-racism work when they first begin. And, it’s just perfect advice for men who are trying to figure what to do with all the news about sexual assault.

Checking My Male Privilege – NY Times

This inspired me to keep doing the work we do.  Charles Blow gets it right.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

Three Tensions at the Heart of Fighting Racism as a White Person – On Being

I’m a big fan of On Being. In the current climate of never-ending information and opinions, I land on the On Being website and can literally feel my breath slow down. Unlike so much else out there, On Being contributors aren’t adding to the noise just for the sake of being involved in the conversation. Rather, their work is insightful, complex, and questioning. In the piece I’ve linked to above, Courtney E. Martin shares some really helpful suggestions for white people who are trying to interrupt racism. And I suggest anyone interested in exploring some of the bigger questions of our time visit the site regularly.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Schools John Kelly On History Of Civil War And ‘Compromise’

So, I’m all for calling people in (instead of calling them out) so that we can have more constructive dialogue. And I almost always advocate for these types of interactions to happen in-person, not online. BUT! Constructive dialogue is impossible with people in positions of power who use their platform to lie, bully, and defend the indefensible. And in those cases (of which there are way too many these days), we need to speak truth to power. And that’s just what Ta-Nehisi Coates did this week via Twitter in response to John Kelly’s disturbing interpretation of what caused the US Civil War. Read Coates’ mic-drop-worthy, historical takedown of Kelly’s statements. It’s satisfying. But more importantly, you’ll likely learn something about the Civil War that you didn’t know before.

Cultural Appropriation at Halloween: My Culture Is Not a Costume – Teen Vogue

Teen Vogue continues to kill it these days with content that goes deep and hits hard in looking at inequity in American society. I really appreciated this video they released this week. It features young women sharing what it can feel like for them when they see their culture being portrayed in a costume. Use this and our I Wish I Were Black educational video and discussion guides to really get to the heart of cultural appropriation.

From Deionna Wilburn

Swipe my race: ‘If you’re only dating someone for their skin colour, you should consider why’ – The Guardian

Daters gonna date and they should have the right to choose…but in walks racial preference. Does the inclination for one race over another stem from or lead to insensitive stereotypes?  The London-based Swipe My Race video explores how “liking what you like” can be problematic and hurtful for everyone involved.

From Sam Rosenthal

Schools are segregated because white people want them that way – Vox

This powerful interview with MacArthur “genius grant” awardee Nikole Hannah-Jones sheds light on the perspective she brings to her work. Jones’ award-winning reporting on schools and segregation should be read by all Americans who are trying to better understand systemic racism.

More White Affirmative Action

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported the following:

The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The Justice Department wouldn’t provide any details about the new initiative, but there’s reason to be concerned. As The Times stated, both supporters and critics of this plan believe it’s clearly aimed at admissions office practices designed to increase racial diversity on campuses.

We’ve fielded so many questions about affirmative action over the years during our post-screening discussions – often from young people who truly believe that affirmative action, at best, is simply no longer necessary and, at worst, discriminates against white people.

[tweetshare tweet=”Look at “white affirmative action” policies, like the ones that got Jared Kushner into Harvard. ” username=”PM_Learn”]There’s so much evidence to the contrary. But we get why this issue is confusing. For most of us, when we hear “affirmative action,” we think about helping underrepresented groups, like women and people of color. But if we continue to frame it that way, then we ignore all the laws, policies, and practices that have been helping white people since this country’s founding – from Slave Codes to Redlining and beyond.

So if the Trump administration really wants to take on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” they need to take a look at “white affirmative action” policies, like the ones that got Jared Kushner into Harvard.

If you’re curious about “white affirmative action,” check out some of these resources and let us know what you think or if we’ve left anything out:

  1. Race – The Power of An Illusion: Excellent three-part documentary series that aired on PBS. If nothing else, at least watch the third episode for a better understanding of recent American history.
  2. A Long History of Affirmative Action – For Whites: Relatively brief article, written as supplemental material to the above documentary series.
  3. One of the best ways we’ve had this explained to us is by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond in their Undoing Racism workshop where they drop a serious American history lesson on “white affirmative action.” Learn more about this incredible group of organizers here.
  4. When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth Century America, by Ira Katznelson: This book shows how New Deal programs were intentionally racist.