Academics target 'whiteness' at social justice conference

Professors and political activists from across the Southeast recently gathered to discuss “whiteness” and social justice leadership at a conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

The “All Y’all Social Justice Series” included presentations on “shattering the glass ceiling of whiteness” and exploring ways to gain “emotional resilience for the social justice leader.” 

According to the conference Twitter page, the series also sought to address the question of “what does Social Justice look like in the contemporary south?”

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The July 24 gathering featured several guest lecturers, including a keynote address delivered by Regina Bradley, an assistant professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University.

The agenda for the weekend also included lectures and panels ranging from discussions on “Emotional Resilience for the Social Justice Leader” to presentations about “Dismantling Power Structures in the Classroom.”

The website for the event further specifies that the conference “seeks to connect educators, students, and community members who are leading the social justice work in Florida and Georgia and across the Southeastern United States.” 

“Our goal is to provide relevant and engaging professional development experiences for teachers in the Southeast at no cost,” the website continues. “If you are interested in joining our collective, please let us know!” 

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One attendee tweeted a photo of a PowerPoint presentation from the conference declaring that “racial inclusion in our schools is impossible without shattering the glass ceiling of whiteness that stifles and dehumanizes people of color.” 

“I commit to celebrating each of my students and giving them voice,” the attendee added alongside the photo. 

Another conference participant shared a list of suggestions for “dismantling whiteness,” which tells white people to “be an accomplice not just an ally” and to “network and seek diverse candidates.”

“Listen to POC [people of color] in your building,” another bullet point adds. “If they say something is problematic, it is.”

Yet another attendee, meanwhile, tweeted a list of social justice “Ally Commandments,” such as “Thou shalt recognize your privilege; white folks’ guilt is unproductive,” and “Thou shalt understand Allyship is a process...with no end in sight.”

“Thou shalt do the work on thine own without coddling,” the slide instructs, explaining that “it is not the responsibility of your students or peers of color to help you reckon with your own biases.”

The All Y’all Social Justice Series conference was sponsored by The University of North Florida’s Center for Urban Education and Policy, the University of North Georgia, and the University of Florida. 

Campus Reform reached out to the conference organizers for comment, but has not yet received a response. 

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