anti racist white allies 101
Got a great resource? Find a broken link? Let me know!
The pamphlet contains practical suggestions for combating prejudice at home, in schools, in the workplace, in the community and in houses of worship. It also contains a list of definitions, helpful resources and a recommended reading list of books included in the “Close the Book on Hate” campaign.
Ever been confused about the meaning of xenophobia or ethnocentrism? Is multiculturalism all it’s cracked up to be? Ever felt that racism is such a huge problem that there’s nothing you can do to change it?
There are four movies described in this guide. There are discussion questions for each film.
Guidelines for Dealing with Oppression in Community
What Is an Ally? An ally is a member of the dominant social group who takes a stand against social injustice directed at a target group(s)—for example, white people who speak out against racism, or heterosexual individuals who speak out against heterosexism and sexual prejudice. An ally works to be an agent of social change rather than an agent of oppression. When a form of oppression has multiple target groups, as do racism, ableism, and heterosexism, target group members can be allies to other targeted social groups (African Americans can be allies to Asian Americans, blind people can be allies to people who use wheelchairs, and lesbians can be allies to bisexual people).
IT IS IMPORTANT TO BEGIN ANY DISCUSSION OF DIVERSITY by thinking about how we got to this point where diversity is an issue. After all, we have always been a diverse country. For hundreds of years we have been a mix of Native American, African American, Latino/a, Asian American, European American, all living together and contributing to our culture and history. We have been women and men, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, people with differing abilities, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists living together. The United States has always contained multitudes. But it was with the advent of the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s liberation movement, and various other movements for social change that confronted the institutions of our society on their exclusionary practices and policies, that there arose a concern about diversity.
Sometimes we may not take seriously what our sons are learning and doing, telling ourselves that “boys will be boys.” At other times we may take what they do too seriously and tell them to “Grow up and act like a man.” Raising sons today, with our concerns about the violence they are vulnerable to and the controlling and abusive male roles they may grow up to inhabit, is a challenging occupation. How do we guide them from boyhood to manhood with their strength, creativity, caring, and lives intact remembering that they are boys, but inevitably boys will be men?
Race is a defining factor in the way our society is structured and in the way our elections and politics are contested. Our racial inequities are wide and deep, yet our solutions are few and far between. Indeed, much progress has been made since the Civil Rights movement, but much ground has also been lost. The popular notion of racism as personal prejudice ignores the historic and systemic inequities that continue to produce everyday benefits and burdens based on race.
To be sure, race and racism will continue to shape elections to come.
That’s why we decided to engage a diverse set of progressive thinkers and activists in analyzing the complexities of how race played out in the presidential race. We wanted these writers, among the most prominent of their time, to identify the trends, the lessons, the facts and the lies; to consider barriers and continuing challenges, as well as opportunities to advance racial equity and social inclusion for all our nation’s residents.
Questions to Ask (and Answer)
A feeling of discomfort has been welling up in my soul in spite of our recent efforts (including significant anti-racism training) to move toward greater racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. I have encountered several situations in which well-intentioned Unitarian Universalists of European American heritage have sought to “lift up” the cultural roots and experiences of people of color. Many of these have been done with varying degrees of disrespect and what is, no doubt, non-conscious racism.
WE TEND TO THINK OF RACISM as a problem for people of color and something we should be concerned about for their sake. It is true that racism is devastating to them, and if we believe in justice, quality, and equal opportunity for all, then we should be trying to end it. As we saw in the last sections, racism does produce material benefits for white people. However, the costs of racism to white people are devastating, especially to those of us without the money and power to buffer their effects. They are not the same costs as the day-to-day violence, discrimination, and harassment that people of color have to deal with. Nevertheless, they are significant costs that we have been trained to ignore, deny, or rationalize away. They are costs that other white people, particularly those with wealth, make us pay in our daily lives. It is sobering for us as white people to talk together about what it really costs to maintain such a system of division and exploitation in our society. We may even find it difficult to recognize some of the core costs of being white in our society.
IF YOU ARE A WOMAN and you have ever walked into a men’s meeting, or a person of color and have walked into a white organization, or a child who walked into the principal’s office, or a Jew or Muslim who entered a Christian space, then you know what it is like to walk into a culture of power that is not your own. You may feel insecure, unsafe, disrespected, unseen or marginalized. You know you have to tread carefully.
The basic purpose of this article is to help white people understand our identity as white people within a racist system which assumes our superiority while at the same time challenging that assumption and replacing it with a positive, anti-racist identity. While many white people seem to think that the solution is to claim ‘colorblindness,’ both with regards to ourselves and to people of color, we believe that it is absolutely critical to accept our identity as white people within a white group, understanding that this association profoundly affects the quality of our lives politically, economically, socially. We must then work, in the words of Beverly Daniel Tatum in her excellent book on racial identity development Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting in the Cafeteria Together (p. 94), “to feel good about it in the context of a commitment to a just society. This requires two tasks: the abandonment of individual racism and the recognition of and opposition to institutional and cultural racism.”
WHAT KIND OF ACTIVE SUPPORT does a strong white ally provide to a person of color? Over the years, people of color that I have talked with have been remarkably consistent in describing the kinds of support they need from white allies.
Real Life Parents Share Real Life Tips
The Journey Toward Wholeness Path to Anti-Racism was born out of the premise that racism and its effects are embedded in all social institutions as well as in us and won’t change without deliberate engagement in analysis and action.
IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE that everyone is not only present, but can also participate fully, we need to be what many people call “culturally competent.” Cultural competency is the ability to understand another culture well enough to be able to communicate and work with people from that culture. We are all culturally competent in our own culture. We know the language, the nuances, and the assumptions about how the world is defined and organized. We know where there are disagreements and differences and generally what the rules are for solving problems. Most of us know how to get around in our cultural neighborhood. Multicultural competence is fluency in more than one culture, in whichever cultures are part of your surroundings.
THERE IS A COMMON PROCESS of public speaking and public education which relies on a technique I’ll call “myths and facts.” It is used in the rape crisis and domestic violence movements, which is the area I work in, so I will draw examples from this area. But its use is very widespread outside these areas as well.
Safe spaces are spaces that are created of, by and for members of marginalized or underrepresented social groupings who share common (or similar) histories and experiences, and/or are routinely subjected to and similarly impacted by socioeconomic, cultural, political and other societal hierarchies and oppression. Safe spaces are generally identity and/or issue-experience based. Social groupings are a consequence of societal constructs such as race, class, gender identity and expression, sexuality, ability, etc. Marginalized or underrepresented social groups are those that are alternates to or lie outside of the established social “norm.” As a result, members of such groups are routinely subject to different forms of prejudice and oppression, such as societal, systemic, institutional, intergroup, interpersonal and personal.
THE POWER CHART ILLUSTRATED ABOVE is a widely used tool in workshops and trainings across the country. Sometimes used as an explicit exercise—as laid out in Men’s Work or Helping Teens Stop Violence—more often implicit in the theory motivating our work, the power chart, and the concepts on which it is built, has become inlaid in much of the training on issues of family violence, sexual assault, racism, multiculturalism, homophobia, and gender.
“I… ask you to know who you are, and who we are. Because unless we are willing to do the hardest work, that of knowing ourselves; unless we are willing to hold in check our natural inclination to jump to solutions, we are at great spiritual risk as we approach the reality of race and class, and the making of justice in our world.”
In the past few years there has been an increasing awareness among religious educators of cultural appropriation especially as it relates to spiritual rituals, symbols, and artifacts, so that UUs begin to ask themselves whether they are involved in reckless borrowing or appropriate cultural sharing.
IN THE UNITED STATES, PEOPLE OF COLOR experience acts of violence such as rape, battery, economic discrimination, lack of police protection, police brutality, poor health care, and housing and job discrimination due to racism. There is no time that a person of color is immune to harassment, discrimination, or the possibility that she or he will be attacked. Money and other accoutrements of power afford some protection, but not completely and not always.
THE WORDS WE USE TO DESCRIBE groups of people have developed within the system of racism as it has changed historically. These words have changed and continue to change, partly in response to the struggle to end racism, and partly in the resistance to and backlash against that struggle. All of our vocabulary is inadequate and frustrating. However, there is much to learn from attempts to use accurate and respectful language. It is important that we pay attention to the words we use because language itself is used to maintain racism.
WHEN I BEGAN TO TAKE CAREFUL STOCK of my family’s history over the last 60 years, I could trace the powerful and long-lasting benefits that have accrued to me and to my family because of affirmative action programs for white people in general and white men in particular. I began to see the numerous ways that my father and I, and indirectly the women in my family, have benefited from policies that either explicitly favored or showed a preference for white men, or explicitly excluded people of color and white women from consideration altogether.
“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group”
For young white students, explorations of fair and unfair, just and unjust, can go a long way in advancing anti-racist white identity. Lives of white anti-racists are part of these suggested programs.
WE HAVE A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM in this country. No, it’s not welfare mothers, it’s not recent immigrants, it’s not African-American or Latino men, it’s not Arab terrorists—it is young white men. Nearly 70% of the devastating violence we experience in our communities is committed by white men and nearly 50% of that is committed by young white men between the ages of fifteen and thirty. What kind of violence am I referring to? Take your pick.