UM-Dearborn apologizes after it promoted a 'Non-POC Cafe' so white people could talk about their white feelings

Sep 9, 2020 at 5:03 pm
click to enlarge UM-Dearborn apologizes after it promoted a 'Non-POC Cafe' so white people could talk about their white feelings
Susan Montgomery /
It wouldn't be 2020 if a college didn't attempt to host a whites-only event intended to give white people a platform to discuss their feelings about being white — you know, without people of color around to make them feel uncomfortable.

Well, according to a now-deleted event listing, the University of Michigan-Dearborn's Center for Social Justice launched a virtual discussion group for “non-POC” to “gather and to discuss their experience as students on campus and as non-POC in the world.” The group was advertised on the UM-Dearborn website and on Instagram as “the Non-POC Cafe,” which would take place recurring bimonthly via Zoom.
Shortly after announcing the group for white people, another group — The BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Cafe — was launched, which was a virtual meetup for those UM-Dearborn students that identify as being from “marginalized racial/ethnic/cultural communities.” Both groups were slated to take place on Tuesdays between 2-3 p.m. (Imagine getting those Zoom links mixed up. Woof!)

It didn't take long, however, for the college to release a formal statement admitting that they took issue with how their segregated discussion groups were described.

“UM-Dearborn sincerely regrets the terms used to describe the 'cafe' events held on September 8,” the statement reads. “The terms used to describe these virtual events and the descriptions themselves were not clear and not reflective of the university's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The statement, published Wednesday, also says UM-Dearborn remains “committed to fostering and maintaining an inclusive campus environment” and that the original intent of the cafe events was to give “students from marginalized communities” a place to “exist freely without having to normalize their lives and experiences.”

As for the white people, the statement says their white group was supposed to give white people an “opportunity to deepen their understanding of race and racism without harming or relying on students of color to educate them.”

Apparently, despite the name, the cafe events were “never intended to be exclusive or exclusionary,” and UM-Dearborn assured that both groups were open to the entire campus and would have moderators present.

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