Whites unwelcome at college diversity ‘happy hour’

OLYMPIA — South Puget Sound Community College says it was a mistake for an employee group to invite only people of color to a diversity “happy hour.”

The group that sent out the email last week apologized the next day and canceled the event, said Kellie Purce Braseth, dean of college relations.

The college believes the best way to celebrate and discuss diversity is to include everyone, Braseth told KING-TV.

“If you want to come you should be able to come; that just makes a richer conversation,” she said.

The invitation to all 300 staffers said the “Staff, Faculty and Administrators of Color” encouraged employees to reply to the invitation to find out the confidential date and time of what was being called a “happy hour” to “build support and community” for people of color.

The invite made it clear white people were not welcome.

“If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that,” the email read.

Karama Blackhorn, program coordinator for the school’s Diversity and Equity Center, helped write the invitation.

It could have been worded differently, but she maintains the staff members of color would have a more honest discussion about race without white employees.

Explicitly talking about race “can be a really difficult conversation for a lot of people,” Blackhorn said.

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