NIU associate professor and award-winning author Joseph Flynn will discuss his book, “White Fatigue: Rethinking Resistance for Social Justice,” on Thursday, April 4, at 6 p.m. The event is part of the university’s Diversity Dialogue Series sponsored by the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“I think the series deals with some important topics, and the ideas of my book fit in really well,” Flynn, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and associate director of academic affairs at the Center for Black Studies, said.
Flynn’s book explores how what passes for “multicultural education” in schools is often a promotion of human relations and tolerance rather than a critical examination of how race and racism shape social, political, economic and educational opportunities for various groups.
“Dr. Flynn is an expert in the field of social justice,” Monique Bernoudy, assistant vice president, Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said. “It will be a great opportunity to engage in dialogue with faculty, staff, students and community members about the difficulty of addressing issues and conversations surrounding race and racism.”
White fatigue is the phrase used to describe that despite that many white Americans find racism morally reprehensible, it is not uncommon to experience white Americans―in classrooms and other spaces―struggling to understand how racism functions.
“It is nonsensical to lament racism and talk about how horrible it is but then be resistant to understanding how racism works; you can’t have one without the other,” Flynn said. “Racism is a phenomenon that has had a profound impact on each and every last one of us. At the same time, it will take the investment of each and every last one of us to ameliorate the problem of racism.”
The Diversity Dialogue Series is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to become more aware and more comfortable engaging in intersectional dialogue in hopes that they take what they learn to make a difference in their community.
“The opportunity to gain and share knowledge, opinions and perspectives is critical to our success to build and sustain an inclusive community at NIU,” Bernoudy said. “Our Diversity Dialogue Series offers participants a brave space to have conversations that matter. This series affords us all the ability to view topics and experiences through one another’s lens which is extremely valuable and life-changing.”