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 Portland State University










© Copyright 2001 Jack C. Straton

This material may be reproduced for educational purposes provided that (1) you notify me (Jack C. Straton, University Studies, Portland State University, Portland, OR, 97210-0751, straton@pdx.edu) that you are doing so, (2) you include this copyright policy and contact information, and (3) the students are charged only for the cost of reproduction. Any commercial use requires explicit permission.

Back to overall description.

Then we move from the fascinating and intriguing facet of diversity awareness (learning about other cultures) into the anther key facet, which may be described as discovering and taking some responsibility for the ways in which dominant American culture has dealt oppressively with ethnic groups over time.

The center of this educational piece is the movie, The Color of Fear, in which eight men of various ethnicities talk about their own experiences of race relations. In order to head off feelings of guilt, we spend a prior day talking about where guilt comes from and what its role is: reinforcing "White privilege" by shifting the attention from the oppressed person back onto the privileged person. Tess Wiseheart former Director of the Portland Women's Crisis Line says that displays of guilty feelings translate as "I'm going to feel so crummy about my privilege that you are going to take care of me." Cherie Brown, Executive Director of the National Coalition Building Institute, says that "Guilt is the glue that holds prejudice in place." We also provide concrete models for students to use to intervene across racial lines when they are witness inappropriate behavior.

After seeing The Color of Fear, we spend the next session processing on an emotional level, via Paul Stand-up Exercise for Whites, which puts us in touch with the way "whites" are affected by white racism and with the palpable reality of its prevalence. The next day or two we talk extensively about the content of the movie, re-exposing students to a significant subset of a transcript. Readings to accompany these discussions include

• Ronald Takaki, "A Different Mirror", and

• Michael Omi and Howard Winant, " Racial Formation", which shows that the idea of "race" is a cultural rather than a biological reality; (The Values course also reads Aurora Levins Morales and Langston Hughes. )


Directed by Lee Mun Wah (Stir Fry Productions, 1904 Virginia Street, Berkekey, CA 94709, 510-548-9695, 1994, 90 Minutes).

Tess Wiseheart, Former Director of the Portland Women’s Crisis Line (personal communication, 1995).

Cherie R. Brown, Executive Director of the National Coalition Building Institute.(personal communication, 1999).

MEN'S WORK: How to Stop the Violence That Tears Our Lives Apart, by Paul Kivel (Ballantine Books, New York, 1992), pp. 207-210.

Ronald Takaki, “A Different Mirror,” in Re-reading America, G. Colombo, R. Cullen, and B. Lisle, eds. (Bedford Books, Boston, 1995) p. 332-49.

Michael Omi and Howard Winant, “Racial Formation,” in Re-reading America, G. Colombo, R. Cullen, and B. Lisle, eds. (Bedford Books, Boston, 1995) pp. 356-64.

Aurora Levins Morales, “Child of the Americas,” in Re-reading America, G. Colombo, R. Cullen, and B. Lisle, eds. (Bedford Books, Boston, 1995) p. 444-5.

Langston Hughes, “Let America be America Again,” in Re-reading America, G. Colombo, R. Cullen, and B. Lisle, eds. (Bedford Books, Boston, 1995) p. 756-7.


Another possible videofor this section is called True Colors. It was originally produced by ABC News, but is now distributed through NTI Film and Video. Their phone is 1-800-777-8100. The code for the
video is 6745M. It runs 19 minutes. They also produced a similar video on gender issues entitled The Fairer Gender. It is not quite as compelling as True Colors, but is still pretty good.