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Release: March 20, 2001

'White privilege' conference planned for April 19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Fifteen educators and scholars, including Harvard University's
Dr. Cornel West and others from the University of Iowa, will gather April 19 at Cornell College to discuss "white privilege," a phrase that theorizes whites, as a corollary to their race, receive certain privileges not afforded to non-whites.

Eddie Moore Jr., doctoral candidate at the UI College of Education and assistant dean of students at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, has organized the conference around the overarching theme "Understanding, Respecting and Connecting with the Changing Faces of America."

"The main objective of the conference is to create an atmosphere where people can dialogue about complex issues within a positive atmosphere, grounded in a feeling of trust and growth, without degrading or blaming one another. We can have these conversations and we can move toward making America the place every foremother and forefather designed it to be," Moore said.

"This isn't a conference designed to beat up on white people. It is meant to educate all of us about how we innocently participate in a cycle of hate, oppression, sexism, heterosexism and racism -- all because of white privilege," Moore said.

The conference was created after Moore read a report from former President Bill Clinton's commission on race. The commission reported a continued disenfranchisement of and prejudice against minorities and the "continuing existence of prejudice and privilege" that purportedly has created a system that relegates an inferior status to people of color, compared to that of whites.

The recently released U.S. Census figures, which showed the Hispanic population surge to 35.3 million, surpassing all other races in terms of growth rate, highlights the importance of the conference and the need to create dialogue about the white privilege phenomenon, Moore said.

Attending the conference from the UI to speak and present are: Ansa Akyea, UI graduate, actor and performer; Diane Finnerty, diversity resources coordinator, Office of Affirmative Action; John D. Palmer, Ph.D. student, Social Foundations of Education, Dr. Salome Raheim, director, School of Social Work, Jesse Villalobos, UI graduate, and Iowa program director, National Conference for Community Justice and Adrien K. Wing, law professor.

Other speakers and presenters include Dr. Lee Jones, associate dean, Florida State University College of Education; Jennifer Holladay, program officer/editor, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Victor Lee Lewis, Founder/Director, Center For Diversity leadership. For more information, call (319) 895-4484 or online at www.cornell-iowa.edu/intercultural_life/white_privilege2/