Can we talk about Whiteness?

#LTHEChat Wednesday 7th March 8-9PM Liz Austen @lizaustenbooth

LTHEchat runs every Wednesday evening and has an international audience.  During the designated 60 minute time slot, invited hosts deliver a series of six questions and wait for the world of HE to tweet their replies.

The topic for this session was Can we talk about Whiteness?  The discussion was based on the ‘Lessons Learnt’ from our REACT project work which aimed to increase confidence and belonging, and ultimately the attainment, of BAME students at SHU.

Live Twitter chats are not easy to manage (and at 8-9pm in the evening pretty exhausting too).  However, with support from an experienced organising team, they are great way of sense checking ideas with the sector and learning more about the context of your chosen topic from the examples and experiences of others.

This Twitter chat was extremely interesting.  Some of the commentary mirrored similar conversations we have had in SHU – a desire to have appropriate data, a plea for more CPD and support for staff, an acknowledgement that we must include student voices, and that challenging prevailing norms is difficult.  In addition, participants noted that the language used within this topic area can be problematic and unhelpful, and the terminology inaccessible.  The limits of organisational change were also debated – consider the informal spaces of the student experience – are we also able to have an impact within these areas?

It was agreed that conversations about privilege in HE are difficult, emotive, challenging and often ignored, but there was an appetite for change (if not a little associated frustration).

I would like to thank all those that participated in my Twitter chat (and those that silently lurked online and watched it unfold).  The responses have been collated using Wakelet (the new Storify) and will feed into the development of a Critical Whiteness toolkit. You can see all the responses here.