Claiming the Legacy of Oppression through Art

  I Am My White Ancestors: Claiming the Legacy of Oppression is a touring installation and public engagement project. It contains thirteen life-size photographic self-portraits that explore European-American heritage, family history, and its legacy of oppression in the history of race, class, colonization, and genocide. The personas, real and imagined, span over 2000 years from […]

Immigration and White People’s History

Today in response to immigration issues, we often hear white people say something like, “My ancestors came here legally, why can’t ‘they’?” This kind of wondering leads many to support deportations of anyone who is undocumented.  It can be very eye-opening, however, for white people to look critically at immigration within our own family histories. […]

British, maybe? Irish, I think?

In 2009, I took a series of anti-racism workshops for white people through The UNtraining. In the first meeting, they asked us to share our ethnicity. I kind of scrunched up my nose and squinted my eyes and said, “British, maybe? Irish, I think? What does it really matter? I’m white, isn’t that why we’re […]

Learning what it Means to be an Immigrant

I teach a multicultural education course that is required for all Education majors at the University of Maine. Where some of my students come from, Somali refugees have settled recently. Can my students draw from their backgrounds to learn what it means to be an immigrant? The conceptual framework for my course is the multicultural curriculum process developed […]

German-American Internment in the U.S. Heartland

I became interested in German-American internment during the two World Wars when I found out that roughly 11,000 German Americans were, in fact, interned – a history few of us know. While none of my German-American ancestors were interned, one of my great-grandfathers, a German Methodist minister born in Germany, could well have been interned […]

Becoming White: Putting Race Back into a Family Story

I grew up hearing stories about a great-great-grandmother who immigrated from Switzerland to the U.S. by way of New Orleans. According to stories, she was a linguist who spoke four or five languages fluently, an accomplished seamstress, and a medium. (My siblings and I loved the idea of a New Orleans fortune-teller in the family […]

Peopling a White Nation

While it is common knowledge that the Founding Fathers envisioned the U.S. to be white , most of us of European descent avoid (or don’t think about) situating the history of our own families within an intentional project aimed at peopling a white nation. A very common story among white people (not only in the U.S. […]