Thursday, March 27, 2014

WPC15 - Dispatch #1

(Wednesday evening) I made it to the White Privilege Conference safely, driving down by myself through sharply chilly winds from Minneapolis to Madison. I was listening to an audio recording of Mansfield Park, keenly aware of the backdrop of privilege permeating this novel: Jane Austen had a keen and sardonic eye for the nuances of the class system and the privileges of wealth, but no sense of outrage. When Fanny Price's uncle goes off to Barbados (I think it was) to supervise his plantation, there's no hint of the slave system in place there. I know that one movie version of the book inserts this information.
The Madison Friends Meeting hosted a meeting for worship and a meal in the evening for local folks and for Quakers coming in for the conference, and there was quite a large group which gathered - someone coming from Oregon, and a couple from Philadelphia, but most from the midwest. I found this time together in the silence moving. There is real comfort and hopefulness in having a community of like-minded people at one's back. It is a bit daunting, though, as many of these folks have done much more than I have. I hope I can find insight in this conference about what I can do to take action - instead of being more of an armchair activist.

Many WPC attenders are being hosted by local Quakers, but I booked a hotel room at the conference hotel, and used my new data phone's GPS to find my way to it (will never be without GPS again!). Deep basement parking - pretty tight - but when I checked in, I got a parking pass for $10 a night that allows me to come and go from the parking ramp, if I choose. I'll likely just keep my car there, though, as I got a spot close to the elevator, which will make it easy to pack my goods and store them in the car when I check out on Saturday. Besides, there's not much time that won't be taken up with the conference.

The concurrent sessions and plenary sessions are all in the Monoma Terrace building, 15-20 minutes away by foot on the other side of the Wisconsin State Capital building. A shuttle will be running if it is raining too hard, but I'll probably get plenty of walking in.

I spent a good chunk of time tonight poring over the schedule. Other than an optional institute (which I didn't sign up for), and the films shown tonight, the conference proper starts tomorrow. Because I'm doing an institute on Saturday, I only have a few concurrent session slots available, so I need to choose them wisely. Last year, many sessions I wanted were too full. This year, there are some really large rooms, so hopefully the sessions I really want won't fill up too quickly.

Tonight, because of how long it took me to get my stuff moved and unpacked, I missed the first set of evening film screenings. I'm going to make an effort to go to a film the next two evenings. Here are three of the films I wished I could have seen - perhaps I'll get my hands on these and watch them with colleagues over the lunch hours:

Miss Representation - how media shapes the expectations (limited) for women and girls - available though Netflix and Amazon video:

Cracking the Codes - personal stories 23 leaders in anti-racism work (Peggy McIntosh as one who is well-known) - others include Amer Ahmed, Joy DeGruy, Ise Lyfe, Hugh Vasquez and Tim Wise. Info at

What Makes Me White - prompts "honest reflection about the invisible influence of whiteness on [white people's] personalities and their life choices.


Mary Ellen Shaw said...

I'll be posting more through the days.
-- Mary Ellen

shoreacres said...

Well, my goodness! I don't often check my reader, as I depend mostly on email notifications of new posts, but tonight I went browsing for some reason, and here you are. Or there, as it were.

I'm so glad to see you pop up. I've often thought about you. Enjoy your conference. And don't be a stranger!