Speaking from the Heart: The Real Work of Undoing Racism from the Inside

After nearly two years of discussion and planning, the Western Quarterly Meeting-sponsored workshop addressing racism was finally held on Saturday, September 16. This workshop was designed with our membership in mind – a predominately white, middle-class, social-justice minded demographic. Nearly 30 people expressed interest in the workshop, and in the end we were close to capacity with 21 participants. Our coordinator worked together with the co-facilitators Joyce Bembry and Linda Lucero to craft a full-day workshop that aimed to open Friends to an awareness of their own internalized racism and how to progress with the hard work of changing “from within” so that we can affect change “without”. Reading materials were sent in advance, and all agreed this was very helpful. (Links to the recommended readings are below). The day was a success, with much heartfelt sharing, listening and learning.

Participant feedback was so positive, we may need to host another one! Here are some of the comments:

One Friend mentioned a particular exercise, “in which groups of about four discussed intricate and pointed questions was the highlight for me.  The questions challenged us, and opened layered reflections, so that even the most valid remarks were not the last word.  They gave firmer shape to our discussion than the more open discussions about memories or personal reflections.” She continues, “This [was] a protected environment in which to build awareness of one’s own layered responses to issues, and in which to gain the sustenance from seeing other committed people and their successes.” Another agreed, saying, “I have been involved in many diversity and anti-racism activities over the years, [I have]even facilitated them.  This workshop was a completely different model of having predominantly white people identify and address their own stuff and have the freedom to ask questions that they are struggling with both internally and their work in the larger community….It looked at whiteness in a way whites could see without getting defensive.”

A third Friend summarized her experience with the workshop in this way: “The highlight for me was being able to put things I’ve been reading, hearing on the radio, and conversations with others together to start forming an action plan for myself. I expected to get some tools to work with, and I did. I had hoped to learn some “easy” ways to say the right thing at the right time, but I learned that there isn’t any easy answer. It takes continuous thinking and work, and it’s OK to be learning every day! Thanks for putting this together. This has been a long time in the works, and this workshop was really well done, helpful, and thought-provoking.  I liked that we had people from other churches there, too.”

Recommended Reading — Online links:
What I Told My White Friend When He Asked For My Black Opinion On White Privilege  – Lori Lakin Hutcherson
Tell Me What to Do — Austin Channing Brown
For White Activists Devastated and Feeling Defeated by Racist Violence — Chris Crass
Unmasking ‘racial micro aggressions’ – Tori DeAngelis
How to Be a White Ally –  blackmillenials
Detour Spotting for white anti-racists – jona olsen

Pdf versions:
Detour-Spotting for White Anti-Racists
Tell Me What to Do
Unmasking Racial Microagressions
For White Activists Devastated
How to be a White Ally

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