WFCRP Plenary 2021

Whiteness: How We Can Render the Invisible Visible (and Why We Need To)


What, exactly, is whiteness? Our contemporary conversation about race in America can be as confusing as it is necessary and overdue. Whiteness is largely invisible to those who are white, until they encounter someone who is nonwhite. The racial binary of white/black, or white/notwhite, ascended in the American imagination in the first half of the 20th Century when more complex, pseudoscientific racial classification systems collapsed as biological science disproved their foundations. This weekend, we will explore the construction of whiteness in America -- why (and for whom) it was useful as a marker of difference, how it connotes normativity, and why it remains so persistently difficult for those who are white to see our whiteness. We will also explore the relative value of understanding whiteness from different depth psychological perspectives: as an avoidance of shadow; as an archetypal identification; as a reflection of a fundamental resistance to acknowledging the unconscious. And we will explore our experiences of whiteness and uncover its surprising influence throughout our lives and communities. We will use film, personal writing exercises, and small and large group discussion (in a safe and supportive context) to come to our own conclusions about how to make the invisible visible.

Sean Fitzpatrick, PhD, LPC, holds master’s degrees in religious studies (Rice University) and clinical psychology (University of Houston – Clear Lake) and received his doctorate in psychology through Saybrook University’s program in Jungian studies. Sean is a psychotherapist in private practice and has been employed at The Jung Center since 1997. His book The Ethical Imagination: Exploring Fantasy and Desire in Analytical Psychology was published recently by Routledge and can be purchased here. His research interests also include the intersection of psychology and spirituality, and vicarious trauma and the self-care needs of helping professionals and social service providers. He is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and serves on the boards of the Houston Museum District Association and the Network of Behavioral Health Providers. His local and national teaching schedule can be found at his website, sfitzpatrick.com.