Whiteboards Are Racist, at Least in Physics – Opinion

Are you able to avoid whiteness every day? You might find it difficult to avoid whiteness, as you can see from a variety of headlines.

A recent article in Physical Review Physics Education Research is worth examining. The esteemed journal began in 1893, and its founder surely couldn’t have imagined the science it would unearth: Per a published report, dry erase boards are racist.

“Observing Whiteness in Introductory Physics: A Case Study” intends to abolish our plague of the pale, but that order appears titanically tall.

Here’s the introduction from authors Amy D. Robertson (Seattle Pacific University) and W. Tali Hairston (Equitable Development, LLC):

The organization of whiteness is based upon a central and marginal structure that are built on control and dominance. A transcendent figure is a person that is structurally and consistently attributed more value than other figures. … In naming whiteness and offering a set of analytic markers, our aim is to provide instructors and researchers with a tool for identifying whiteness in their own contexts. … [W]e hope our work contributes to Critical Whiteness Studies’ goal of dismantling whiteness.

In case you weren’t aware, American society is KKK-ish:

Critical Race Theory identifies racism as a scourge of U.S. society. It covers all aspects of life, including employment and schooling. This is evident in differential prisoner rates, infection rates and deaths in the COVID era, as well as police brutality.

“We also see,” the authors note,” the outcomes of this in physics.”

The subject is covered in whiteness.

  • Energy Interaction Diagrams
  • Physics Values
  • Social Norms Gendered
  • The Structure of Education

You can also spot white supremacy in the second one.

[E]Instilling dominant values and knowledge, and maintaining power relations through inculcation of these values and knowledge (inculcation), is how ducational systems create and keep power. Further, they create institutional structures that support this work, such that the arbitrariness is further hidden in policies and practices that become “the way things are” in school. And “the way things are” in school are in a mutually reinforcing relationship with “the way things are” in society more broadly.


[T]he structure of schooling — and in particular, mechanisms of control such as grades or academic qualifications — co-produces whiteness as social organization…

Let’s now get to the actual (white) elephant in the room.

[Whiteboards]Play a part in reconstituting the whiteness of social organizations. In particular [they]They display information written for public consumption. Collaboration with white organization culture is where experiences and ideas gain more value when they are written down.

The essay also calls dry erase boards “mechanisms of control.” According to the study, as three students attempt to work out a physics problem, a whiteboard and the physics “energy-interaction diagram” “[organize]Activity in the vicinity [themselves, making] it possible for a single person (among the trio) to maintain control” — a white power-grab, if you will.

The article, along with many others that smear paltry pigment, makes it sound like everyone should just delete everything.

Yet, we’ll likely only end up here again:

Still, many are giving it their best by denouncing an entire race. No veiled messages are allowed in anti-whiteness. Individuals and institutions directly indicate that the world’s Caucasian component is crap.

Triumph sits on a high hill. According to the Smithsonian these are among whiteness that is waiting for its turn.

  • Uncompromising Individualism
  • The Nuclear Family
  • Objective Thinking
  • Believe that hard work is key to success
  • Future Planning
  • Delayed Gratification
  • Action orientation
  • Decision-Making

Back to physics, so far as I can tell, they’re trying to tackle individual work, focus, human interaction, and the traditional ways of doing things.

And if you’re still lost on how whiteboards are white supremacist, W. Tali Hairston — director of community organizing, advocacy, and development at Seattle Presbytery — explains to Campus Reform:

“Whiteboards can be racist like how housing, employment, and the judicial systems were found to contain racist practices. … Our findings support other studies that have found the study of physics to include racism and sexism.”

Keep following the science.



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