The University of Southern California (USC) has joined the fight to “dismantle whiteness” by erecting an artistic mural designed to spark a conversation on “racism, sexism and xenophobia.”
According to The College Fix, the “dismantle whiteness” mural was erected by the “feminist artist collective When Women Disrupt in conjunction with students in the class ‘Women: Designing Media for Social Change.'”
“Recently installed at an entrance to the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism building, it depicts large sketch drawings of four women of color on walls flanking the doorway with the words ‘DISMANTLE WHITENESS AND MISOGYNY ON THIS CAMPUS’ posted on the ceiling above it,” reports The Fix.
Communications Professor Alison Trope told The Fix that the mural, which castigates white people in a way that would be racist if applied toward blacks, is designed to spark a dialogue.
“The installation is intended to spark dialogue,” Trope said. “To that end, the signage is meant to offer grounding of terms and ideas. There is no expectation that everyone agree with the statement offered by the artists, but hopefully viewers can acknowledge the experience of peers on campus around these issues.”
“In fact, the text was derived from conversations with students about race, gender and class issues on campus. There have already been many generative conversations prompted by the work—by those who align with the sentiments and those who do not,” she said.
The group responsible for the installation, When Women Disrupt, describe themselves as “an intersectional feminist artist collective.”
“Since the summer of 2017, WWD has traveled all throughout the United States installing small and large scale art which call attention to racism, sexism and xenophobia,” says a flyer describing the group. “By confronting communities in the public space with art that uplifts the voices and sacredness of people whom history has often rendered invisible and less than human, WWD’s intention is to provoke greater discussion and thinking about the institutionalized and everyday systems of power and representation that reinforce racism, patriarchy, and inequality.”
Displayed at the exhibit is an information flyer that explains exactly what it means by “whiteness.”
“Distinct from being white, whiteness refers to an unmarked and unnamed place of advantage, privilege or domination; a lens through which white people tend to see themselves and others; an organizing principle that shapes institutions, policies, and social relations,” says the flyer.
While certainly provocative on its own, an article in The Daily Trojan says that several students were upset that the mural was not placed in a more-traveled area, accusing the administration of concealing it.
“It’s placed in a very hidden area of campus where it’s not usually seen and I think that speaks to the administration and how they want to frame and direct the conversation and the impact — the fact that it is inward-facing not outward facing — all of these factors are intentional from the administration and I think this project would have been much more powerful if the artists were given more freedom,” said one student.
Trope feels the administration should have put the installation on Watt Way, a more public area. “It’s disappointing to me because I think it could have had a great impact on our community in terms of spurring dialogue and conversation about race and gender and campus climate,” Trope said.