Challenging Straight White College Men to Advocate for Social Justice
The 21st Century in the United States continues to be marked by persistent disparities between members of different classes, races, genders, and sexual orientations. Influencers of this society seem bent on polarizing citizens along their diverse identities, often blaming those already disadvantaged for the nation’s apparent plights. Elite white men still benefit from a political, economic, and social hegemony and some ardently resist an egalitarian society. Preserving American democracy rests in the hands of young Americans committed to equity and social justice.
In Got Solidarity?, Jörg Vianden reports the results from the Straight White College Men Project, a nationwide qualitative study of how heterosexual white college men experience or perceive campus and community diversity issues. In college, few white men tend to engage in majors, discussions, or courses on diversity, inclusion, equity, or social justice. Indeed, many white men say that they have "no place" in these discussions, and more commonly assert that "diversity is not about them." Using a sociological perspective, the author chronicles their upbringing in families and schools, their perspectives on race, gender, and sexual orientation, as well as their trepidations on challenging oppression they notice taking place around them. Their stories lead to a renewed understanding of how white disengagement constrains progress toward a just society. This book offers strategies for enhancing college teaching and learning, adds to the body of research on identity development theory, and provides implications for improving campus climates, fostering social justice advocacy, as well as re-designing programs promoting understanding of human differences.
Written especially for straight white male college students, as well as for educators at all levels, this book underscores the critical need for whites to raise consciousness, activate empathy, and build solidarity with members of minoritized social groups. Given the current American predicament, Got Solidarity? makes a timely contribution to our understanding of masculinity and endeavors to create a just society.
Table of Contents
Preface; 1. Building Solidarity and Challenging Social Justice Advocacy in Straight White College Men; 2. Growing up White and Male: Learning about Diversity in Communities, Schools, and Families; 3. What's in it for me? Defining, Experiencing, and Considering Engaging in Diversity in College; 4. White is Norm: Acknowledging Privilege, Power, and Oppression on Campus; 5. It's Hard to Speak Up: Challenging Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia; 6. What's my Responsibility? Strategies to Engage Straight White College Men in Social Change; References; Index
Dr. Jörg Vianden is Professor and Chair of the Department of Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Originally from Germany, he has lived in the United States for 25 years and received his doctorate from Indiana University. Vianden’s scholarship focuses on men and masculinities as well as social justice issues in higher education. His research has been published in several national and international journals.
Jörg Vianden offers a rare in-depth study of young straight white men, a study about and for them. Revisiting issues of diversity and inclusion assessed by others, but in more depth, he finds their segregated upbringing creates narrow white-male-framed perspectives that disengage them from understanding and challenging societal oppressions. He goes beyond problematizing to offer proposals for raising their equity consciousnesses, improving campus climates, and fostering social justice advocacy and change.
Joe Feagin, Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University, and author of The White Racial Frame (Routledge) and Racist America (Routledge)
In an era when divisiveness reigns and individuals with privilege are feeling increasingly embolden to perpetrate micro and macroaggressions, Got Solidarity? is a timely and important book. Vianden invites straight white men into the social justice conversation and encourages them to take responsibility for acting in solidarity with oppressed communities. Vianden argues that it is essential for white men researchers to do their "part to disrupt white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity." With this book, Vianden has done just that. Got Solidarity is a must read for not only straight white men, but also college educators, activists, and peers of all races, genders, and sexualities who could use a little solidarity in their quest for social justice.
Annemarie Vaccaro, Professor and Program Director, University of Rhode Island
It’s not likely the title of this book will inspire most white college men to read it. Which is precisely why the work is so important. Drawing on the lived experiences of today’s undergraduates, Vianden persuasively explains why educators are duty-bound to focus on loosening the chains of socialization that perpetuate inequities while advancing efforts to promote social justice.
George D. Kuh, Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus of Higher Education, Indiana University
Scholars have been writing about white cisgender men and asking what’s wrong with them. Vianden turns his investigative gaze both inward and outward to study white cisgender men and illuminates critical historical, contextual and intersectional subjectivities to tell a story for men. This important book invites educators to more effectively engage students from privileged backgrounds in discussion about power and oppression. It also provides guidance for moving beyond the shame and blame game toward building the kind of solidarity necessary to more forcefully fight for social justice.
Tracy Davis, Professor and Director of the College Student Personnel Program, Western Illinois University
Every straight white man would benefit greatly from reading this important book. Campuses would be safer and more equitable for women, people of color, and LGBTQ persons if straight white men did what Vianden thoughtfully advocates in this text.
Shaun R. Harper, Provost Professor of Education and Business, University of Southern California