By Albert Lin
A community-college group apologized for an emailed invitation and canceled a diversity event after the contents of the email were made public.
A group calling itself the “Staff, Faculty and Administrators of Color” invited all 300 South Puget Sound Community College staff members to a diversity “happy hour” to help “build support and community” for people of color.
But the Associated Press report says that the email made very clear that white people were not welcome to attend. Part of the invitation read, “If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that.”
“It was obviously a mistake; it was badly worded,” said Kellie Purce Braseth, the school’s Dean of College Relations. “If you want to come you should be able to come, because that just makes a richer conversation.”
Karama Blackhorn, a program coordinator for the SPSCC’s Diversity and Equity Center who helped write the email, told KING 5 TV that the invitation could have been worded differently, but insisted that an honest discussion could not have taken place in the presence of whites.
“That space is not for white people, that space is for people of color,” she said of the center. “When trying to explicitly talk about race, it can be a really difficult conversation for a lot of people, especially when trying to openly invite folks to build a space of solidarity.”
Oddly, the SPSCC website says that the Diversity and Equity Center “is meant to be a safe, hate-free space for ALL students.” The Office of Diversity and Equity also promotes a “Not on Our Campus” pledge that reads in part, “I feel that negative actions toward any person based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion, sexuality, ability or any other factor are unacceptable.”