PLU Staff Researches Whiteness

Hambrick Text from Research on Dissertation

Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability Angie Hambrick reads “What Does it Mean to Be White?” in her office located in the Diversity Center at Pacific Lutheran University. This book was one of the texts used for her dissertation and read in the class she taught the fall of 2016.

Pacific Lutheran University staff member researched what it means to be white in her dissertation the last several months, and will continue to research and write about this topic. Discourse about anti-racism from the perspective of white scholars is the focus of her dissertation, which she has incorporated into parts of PLU.

Angie Hambrick, the Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability at PLU, began the doctoral process at Azusa Pacific University in California, and has continued this with her chapters. Hambrick began the doctoral process in 2011, and hopes to be done by October of this year. The research done by Hambrick is specifically looking at a group of white scholars who use their discourse to study anti-racism. Hambrick studied why these scholars are helping to dismantle an oppressive system they benefit from.

“I chose this topic because I want white people to take responsibility for race and racism,” said Angie Hambrick. “Whiteness is so fragile that I think that some would see my research as an attack on whiteness and on white people, but it’s not.”

Much of the issues addressed by Hambrick revolve around whiteness and white supremacy and how they play a role in oppressive institutions, called Critical White Studies. According to Oxford Research Encyclopedias, this is through a branch of Critical Race Theory, where it is believed that race is at the heart of all systems of oppression. The research has shifted the gaze from people of color to white people, and studying its context in the educational institution.

“As a person of color, research is always done about me and not always by people of color. It’s always about people of color and how we need to change to fit in, but I want to shift that for how do white people change,” said Hambrick.

Hambrick Checks Through Emails

Angie Hambrick goes through emails regarding Diversity, Justice and Sustainability in the Diversity Center. Hambrick helps work with different events and clubs on campus, such as the Students of Color Retreat at the beginning of each academic year.

Hambrick incorporated the topic of her dissertation into a first-year writing class. The class revolved around race studies, and was extended to more than just people of color, but also understanding how whiteness plays a role in different institutions. The class was intentional on including whiteness into the conversation, because of how these conversations on race tends to exclude them.

Hambrick also used her dissertation topic as a means of expanding on with the PLU staff and faculty through a reading group on race and whiteness. This has allowed for more incorporation of her topic of study onto the PLU campus, because of how it is growing on the Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability aspect of PLU. Hambrick’s research has also allowed for spaces to have students and staff come together to have conversations of what being at a predominately white institution means.

“Her studying goes along with making these spaces on campus, because they can see us as a threat when we are being unapologetically ourselves and challenging that,” said Nicole Gonzales, the Residential Director of Stuen and Ordal Hall. “Angie is good at making the space and making them think about what space they occupy.”

With Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability emphasized on campus, Hambrick has helped to do some important work on campus. More can be done with an emphasis on Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability. The campus has been able to adapt a new lexicon around DJS, and another step towards this would be through Hambrick’s work on whiteness and what that means on this campus.

“The reason I do it is because Paulo Freire said ‘my humanity is tied up in your humanity’ so I feel I can’t be the fullest human I can be until you are. It’s not about white guilt it’s about being human and humanity,” said Hambrick.

Angie Hambrick has interviewed two of the six scholars for her dissertation, and will finish this upcoming May. Hambrick hopes to be done with her research on her dissertation topic by October, and eventually have a doctoral degree.

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