Category: Beth Connors-Manke

A Meditation on Whiteness

By Beth Connors-Manke

October Featured Essay

Note: in August The Whole Horse Project published Jeff Gross’s “Into the Caldron: Neoliberalism, Ideology, Education and Life Itself” which discussed, in part, the controversy over social media posts by sociology professor Zandria F. Robinson. Below is an extended reflection sparked by one of Robinson’s tweets.

“Whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror.” –Tweet by Zandria F. Robinson

An assertion like this—an assertion so sweeping—troubles me. Many categorical statements, like this one, aren’t true. They need qualifiers; they need limits set on them.

Like this: Whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror when a man walks into a church and kills nine church folk during Bible study.

Or, like this: Whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror when a police officer shoots a 12-year-old boy dead in a park.

It’s hard to argue with those qualified statements, although a number of people still would. But maybe what troubles me here isn’t that lack of qualifiers—maybe it’s the definition of whiteness.


Beth Connors-Manke

By Beth Connors-Manke

February Featured Essay

Recently, advertising copy came across my desk that gave me pause. It wasn’t a “hmmm…” pause, the kind that signals interest in a fresh or complex issue. Rather, it was a “what?!?” pause. A “whose Kool-Aid have we been drinking?” pause. The copy read something like this: “Announcing our new undergraduate major in XYZ! Upon graduation, our majors will be experts in XYZ.”

My alarm was born of an issue of fact and an issue of philosophy. First, the issue of fact: college graduates are not experts in anything. Those who have had a liberal arts education are, one hopes, well-rounded, which is pretty much the opposite of being an expert. Those who have majored in pre-professional tracks are simply at the beginning stage of understanding in their fields. A few years of education in an academic discipline or professional field is, quite simply, just an education in that discipline or field. Teachers know this; employers know this. Only the “consumer” believes the expert ploy—which leads to the second, philosophical issue: what is education for? by what means does it provide the most value? to whom? for whom? why?


Beth Connors-Manke