(National Sentinel) White-Shaming: The University of Michigan has held a two-day professional development conference which included a training session geared towards helping white employees ‘deal’ with their “whiteness” so they are better equipped to fight on behalf of social causes, The College Fix reported.

Participants who attended the “Conversations on Whiteness” session, which was held Dec. 5 during the university’s Student Life Professional Development Conference, were instructed on how to “recognize the difficulties they face when talking about social justice issues related to their White identity, explore this discomfort, and devise ways to work through it,” according to the university’s website.

The goal of the instruction was to assist participants in “unpacking Whiteness” in support of students and staff with issues and efforts “related to identity and social justice,” the website continued.

The session was more than a dozen workshops offered at the professional development conference, The College Fix reported, which was held Dec. 4-5.

The whiteness session utilized the “Privileged Identity Exploration Model” to help white participants explore the “discomfort” of their “white identity,” organizers said.

First introduced in 2007 by University of Iowa professor Sherry Watt in a College Student Affairs Journal article, the model purports to be a method for understanding how people react to stimuli that alert them of the privilege they hold. The model is to be used by “facilitators” to “engage participants in discussions about diversity,” according to Watt.

Watt states there are eight defenses people use to avoid recognizing their privilege. Examples of defenses include “denial,” where someone simply refuses to admit their privilege, and “minimization,” where someone trivializes the impact of their privilege.

The College Fix noted that of three University of Michigan staffers contacted about the session and whether there were racial issues on campus that necessitated it, two did not respond to inquiries and a third, ick Smith, director of campus involvement, said only: “This is an internal training for U-M Student Life staff.”

Another session, titled “I Don’t Feel Safe Talking About Race,” was devoted to giving staff “tools to create a safer climate to promote dialogue around racial issues.” Meanwhile “The Intersection of Well-being, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion on Campus” workshop aimed to help Student Life staff “work towards wellness justice for all students on campus.”

The College Fix noted that other universities around the country are also beginning to focus on what critics call “white-shaming.”

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