|Dr. Eddie Moore Jr.|
WPC drew only 175 attendees at its first session in 1999, on the campus of Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where the conference’s founder, Eddie Moore Jr., had earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1989 and was serving as an assistant dean while working on a doctorate in education from the University of Iowa (he received it in 2004). Moore is now director of diversity at the Brooklyn Friends School. A larger-than-life character (he’s at least six-foot-eight and a former college basketball player), Moore physically and psychically dominated the conference. The typical garb for WPC14 attendees ranged from hippie (old folks) to hipster (young ’uns), with common elements of rubber soles on every shoe and green-conscious water bottles dangling from every backpack. The shaven-headed Moore sartorially carved out for himself an impressive hieratic distance from his disheveled audience: meticulously tailored suits complemented with silk shirts, silk ties, and even socks in shimmering springtime colors. A gold elastic-band watch that looked like a Rolex gleamed on his wrist.
Quaker delegation to WPC
Back in 1999 the main focus of the White Privilege Conference had been on race. Recently, though, the categories of victims of white supremacy have grown to include such overwhelmingly white groups as feminists and the “LGBT community”—or “LGBTQ community,” “LGBTQQ community,” and “LGBTQQIA community”—all acronyms used by White Privilege participants at various times (the two “Q’s” stand for “queer” and “questioning,” the “I” for “intersex,” and the “A” for a conventionally heterosexual “ally” of all of the above). ...
By this year at SeaTac, the number of White Privilege attendees had swollen to 2,000, a substantial increase over the 1,500 or so at WPC13 last year in Albuquerque, where the theme was “Intersectionality”—WPC-speak for two-fer oppression, as in the case of a black female or a gay Latino.
Dr. Eddie Moore Jr.
The bulging crowds at the SeaTac DoubleTree were a fire chief’s acid-reflux nightmare. By row-counting I calculated 1,500 chairs—all taken—in a ballroom whose wall proclaimed “Maximum Occupancy 505.” The smaller conference rooms that housed some 120 different workshops (a sample: “Talking Back to White Entitlement,” “Follow the White Supremacist Money,” “Engaging White People in the Fight for Racial & Economic Justice”) were typically as packed as mosh pits. ...
Who were those 2,000 people lounging on the lobby floor as they ate their WPC-supplied vegan-option box lunches or lined up to buy corporate lattes at the in-house Starbucks station? From my conversations with some of them, it seemed that they had one thing in common: Someone else, or something else, usually a public entity or a university or a nonprofit or a church, had paid their way (up to $435 in registration fees alone) for the four days and nights at the Seattle airport. The top representative professions at the conference were: college professor, student, campus diversity officer, and employee of an activist organization whose title typically included the words “equity,” “social justice,” or both.
Dr. Eddie Moore Jr.
|Not Dr. Eddie Moore Jr.|
(possibly Ferris Bueller,
Indeed, one way to look at the conference was as a networking event for a diversity industry that is larger and more elaborate and competitive than one can imagine. The conference program bulged with ads for other White Privilege-style conferences (a Pedagogy of Privilege conference this coming August at the University of Denver, for example) and white-privilege reading material (sample book titles: Deconstructing Privilege; Cultivating Social Justice Teachers; White Women Getting Real About Race). It seemed that nearly everyone in attendance, including many of the college professors, was flogging a book or had a side gig as a “consultant”—that is, someone you might want to hire for your own campus or workplace exploration of the ins and outs of white oppression. Eddie Moore himself, when he is not at Brooklyn Friends, runs America & MOORE LLC, and his business card advertises “Diversity Education, Research & Consulting.”