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01/19/2016 07:35 pm ET

'Whiteness History Month' Stirs Up Controversy At Oregon College

It's not what you think.

April will be "Whiteness History Month" at a community college in Portland, Oregon, where faculty and staff wanted to come up with a new way to teach about race and racism.

Unlike Black History Month, which is observed nationally, the project at Portland Community College "is not a celebratory endeavor," according to the school's website. Rather, "it is an effort to change our campus climate" in a way that critically examines white privilege and racial power structures.

PCC faced backlash on Monday from conservative critics who derided the program as "whiteness shaming" and complained that it was a sign of pressure to be politically correct. 

"The Project seeks to challenge the master narrative of race and racism through an exploration of the social construction of whiteness," the PCC website says. "Challenging the master narrative of traditional curriculum is a strategy within higher education that promotes multicultural education and equity."

School officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There are about 90,000 students at PCC, according to the school's website, making it Oregon's largest college.

A subcommittee of the Cascade Campus Diversity Council, one of several diversity councils at the school, developed Whiteness History Month. The college began accepting proposals for presentations, lectures and other events in October, but on Monday -- which was also Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- it suddenly became a viral topic.

The subcommittee is looking to create events that address questions like: "Who benefits from the consequences of whiteness? Who loses from whiteness? How?" or "In what ways does whiteness emerge from a legacy of imperialism, conquest, colonialism and the American enterprise?"

Supporters praised the school for its unique approach to understanding racial identity.

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