Thursday, March 22, 2001 Section: LIVE!  Edition: AM 
Page: C3 Column: Web Watch 


BY David Ross

I'm white.

It's only on the rare occasion that this fact enters my consciousness.

Once, while I was doing volunteer work in Kenya, I sat down to eat at a

restaurant and realized I was the only white in the building. And every

once in awhile during a gathering of my large, loving Filipino in-laws

I'll glance around and realize I'm the only white guy in the room.

The time when I most realize it, though, is when some nut goes on a

rampage in a school. The killers have all been white. But the FBI, it

seems, is unable to create a profile of the typical school shooter.

A writer named Tim Wise posted an article called ``School Shootings and

White Denial'' to the AlterNet (www.AlterNet.org) in early March. It's a

thoughtful, profane piece in which he reacts in shock to the lack of

knowledge whites have about their own racial/cultural tendencies.

Wise laments the tendency to violence and substance abuse among white

teen-agers, citing an array of government-produced statistics that are

truly shocking. His point? White America needs to realize that the malaise

that strikes urban, nonwhite kids is creeping into the suburbs. The

suburbs are better armed.

Wise has received more than 3,000 e-mails from this article, most of which

are from blacks, Hispanics and Asians who laud him for looking objectively

at whites.

I decided to do a search on Google (www.google.com) to see if I could find

any more studies/think pieces on ``whiteness.'' I thought of phrasing my

query in a way to restrict hits for white supremacist groups but then I

changed my mind. I decided to let the computer define ``whiteness.''

Amazingly, I scored on my first hit. Gregory Jay, a professor in the

English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has written a

series of articles on whiteness and even created a course outline for

teaching the topic (www.uwm.edu/~gjay/whiteness/whitenesstalk.html). The

questions he posts would foment amazing discussions in middle and high

school or at the college level.

His most important piece, a 1998 reflection on Martin Luther King Day, is

titled ``Who Invented White People?'' He provides readers with details on

the origin of ``white'' culture, harking back to its roots in Eastern and

Southern Europe. The piece has a pedantic tone but it sure makes a fella


I left Jay's site for another, called the Center for Study of

White-American Culture (www.euroamerican.org). The Web-masters here seem

to have been asleep for a couple of years and missed a few design

seminars. However, buried amid the links to a library, conferences and

publications is a link to, well, links. I found a gob of stuff about

multicultural education and the role of the white student, educator and

administrator in that process.

The first essay that caught my eye was written by Gary Howard. It's called

``Whites in Multicultural Education,'' and should be a must-read for the

education crowd in California, where white children are no longer a

majority in the schools. I also enjoyed Kathie Dobie's article called

``The Unbearable Whiteness of Being,'' which was originally posted a

couple of years ago on Salon.com. It's a powerful statement on the who and

the why of school shootings.

There are, of course, a slew of sites about race traitors. The most

prominent of these is cleverly called Race Traitor

(www.postfun.com/racetraitor). The articles on these sites tend to be so

bizarre that I have difficulty telling if the authors are kidding or

serious. Enter them at your own risk.

This is why I love the Internet. The traditional media, of which I've been

a part for more than 20 years, won't get near this topic, but my students

will. They're going to be reading these essays and talking about this

problem in our round-table groups.

You can write to David Ross in care of Live!, PressTelegram, P.O. Box 230,
Long Beach CA 90844, or send e-mail to dcpross@earthlink.net

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