In Core 250 this past week, we were talking about canons. We discussed the different biblical, philosophical and educational canons and it really got me thinking. Dr. Oakland talked about how all the required reading can be expressed in the acronym DWEM. Everything that we have to read was written by a dead, white, Euro-centric male.
According to jahsonic.com, these males dominated discussions on western civilization because they were seen as more worthy to be studied.
This means that these males have shaped the worldview of this generation because they are widely studied. But what about the marginalized voices?
We have failed to recognize the perspective of those who inhabited this land long before “America” was formed.
Dr. Oakland even mentioned in the lecture that we know nothing about the Spokanes, Coeur D’Alenes, etc. We don’t know about their experience as the first Americans in this western land.
We know nothing about the slave experience of the centuries before our time. We know nothing about the Asian experience upon first arrival in a foreign land. All of this ‘not knowing’ is leaving us closed-minded.
Then people say that we are egocentric. But can you blame us? Ignorance occurs when you are not fed the right material. Ignorance comes into play when we only have one perspective in our heads.
In a meeting I went to, one guy said that we are not just behind the pine cone curtain as a whole, we are behind individual curtains as well.
This is evident in the ignorance that is displayed. Although I go to school with plenty of Asian-Americans, I know basically nothing about their culture.
We have a Black Student Union and a Hawaiian club but the events that are put on are what people would consider typical.
The BSU puts on a Gospel Explosion and a soul food dinner. Because black people love to eat and sing, right?
The Hawaiian club puts on Luau. Because all people do in Hawaii is dance in grass skirts, right?
We need to learn about the history of these cultures or even other things that are not so stereotypical.
The classroom is not helping us either. We learn about this dead male outlook on life and that perspective is not universal because it does not speak to the different experiences that were occurring at the time.
So my question is why would we want a university curriculum that shelters us and keeps us from the truth. Why would we want to stay in a closed-minded rut?
I believe that we are becoming too complacent. We have accepted reading the works of only dead white men as reality. But again, what about the marginalized voices?
Whitworth is supposed to give us an education of mind and heart. If we are not being exposed to those voices that are not included in the current canon, how can we say we have a true education of the mind?
I know that it is impossible to include every marginalized or underrepresented voice in the required reading lists for classes, but what about some variety?
I went to my first MAC (Multicultural Advocacy Council) meeting on Tuesday night and I was convicted of my complacency. Dr. Larry Burnley was talking about how being fed the perspectives of those dead males does not speak to his experience as an African-American male.
I thought about how this is also true in my life. A lot of what I am required to read doesn’t speak to my female/African-American experience. In fact, it only speaks to a few experiences: Caucasian and male.
I decided that I have become content. I have accepted that I go to a predominantly Caucasian school and I will be fed this material whether I like it or not. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that I cannot be fed other material alongside this.
If Whitworth claims to be a place for the fostering of the mind and a place of diversity, we should be exposed to diversity in the classroom.
This means that we should be reading about other perspectives to gain insight on Latino, African-American, Native-American, Asian-American, etc. experiences.
Esther Louie was also present and she spoke about how we have power as students. We are the voice of Whitworth and our voices have a right to be heard. The administration actually listens to students and we have the ability to make things happen here.
So my question to you is do you want to only see narrowly? Do you want to be closed-minded and only view life through one pair of goggles? Or do you want your mind to be opened up to universal experiences and marginalized voices? The choice is ours Whitworth.
By Remi Omodara