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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

David G. Allen
NURS 550
Seattle Campus

White Privilege and Racism in Health and Human Services

Explores relationships among the psychosocial health of people of color, American cultural patterns of intersecting forms of oppression (e.g., gender, race, and class) and the role of health professionals in defining, ameliorating, and/or aggravating psychosocial distress. Credit/no-credit only. Offered: jointly with GWSS 550.

Class description

There is increasing recognition that strategies to make social services such as health care, education or social work “multicultural” are flawed in at least two ways. First, these efforts fail to historicize and deconstruct the very categories of race, ethnicity and culture that they employ. Second, any individual or collective efforts to address inequality and exclusion by people in majority or dominant social positions must incorporate a careful analysis of “whiteness” as a cultural location, one which is embedded in racialized stratification and maintains white supremacy at least in part through unearned privileges for people socially identified as white.

This course employs theories on “whiteness” from the perspectives of both white and nonwhite people to analyze approaches to social services, health care and education. The readings are multidisciplinary and range from highly theoretical to concrete, complex applications. However, the assumed goal is social action so we will continually interrogate the theory literature by asking how it might be useful, allow us to do something we might not otherwise be able to do.

Student learning goals

To explore the values and behavioral roles of "privileged" populations in the remediation of racism in the U.S.. .

To analyze and apply various postmodern and post-structuralist perspectives on models of “multiculturalism” or “diversity.”

To critically analyze the literature on whiteness as a social location and as a performance in terms of its implications for efforts to enhance psychosocial health and social justice.

Most importantly, to become more skillful in working toward a less racist and more just society

General method of instruction

Almost entirely discussion in various formats.

Recommended preparation

Patience, comfort with confrontation, commitment to improve one's understanding and skills in resisting white supremacy and racism.

Class assignments and grading

Credit/No credit based primarily upon: (a) peer assessment of participation; (b) completion of weekly assignments.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by David G. Allen
Date: 12/05/2007