“Whiteness in North Dakota” Event Creates Controversy

The Pride and Collective Community Center downtown hosts an event exploring “Whiteness in North Dakota”.

The group says people may be racist without knowing it.

The event was mostly advertised on Facebook where comments and posts can be left for everyone to see.

Attendees said under 15 people came to the event.

The language used online may have been why there wasn’t more, at least for one Fargo resident.

“Whiteness in North Dakota: White People on White Privilege and Racism” was the name of an event inviting all to discuss social issues in the state.

“The only way we can begin conversations about diversity is to first acknowledge difference,” says one of the community members at the Pride and Collective Community Center, Raymond Rea.

The goal of the session is to safely discuss how many people may be racist without knowing it.

But for some people, they felt the door closed before it was even opened because of the terms used.

“List it as a open conversation, invite people of all colors to just discuss how they feel,” says Nicole Guidry, who saw the event on Facebook but chose not to go.

Nicole supports the overall goal of the discussion she says there may have been better ways to list it.

“Oh we have this privilege and we need to decide what we’re going to do about it, well using the term privilege to me makes it sound like you’re saying you’re better than the people who you’re saying don’t have privilege,” Guidry says.

“We had people comment on Facebook saying “white people don’t have privilege and to say they have privilege is actually racist and we had one person saying she didn’t have white privilege because she grew up in a community of color so with all those people we said come on down we’d like to talk to you,” Raymond says/

The Facebook comments were a reminder that there are many things to talk about, and in fact contribute to the discussion.

“There was a lot of discussion exploring the different definitions because not everyone agrees or understands the terms in the same exact way, they are technical terms but they get used very loosely.” says Amena Chaudhry, who attended to event.

KVRR was asked not to record the actual discussion but participants told us it was overall a positive experience where all ideas were welcomed.