What is an Unlearning Circle?
To help predominately white spaces and communities like churches, workplaces, civic organizations, schools, neighborhoods, and friend groups learn to grapple with race and whiteness in a constructive, helpful, and soul affirming way, we’re calling on the wider community to join us in forming citywide “un-learning circles” within existing community spaces.
We envision dozens or even hundreds of spaces full of people seeking to understand their own biases, structural racism and its effects, deepen their connection to their own capacity for empathy and compassion, and find tangible ways to be active collaborators in racial justice. More than a book club, different from an academic class, people gather with those they already know over brunch and have honest, brave, and authentic conversations about race in the effort of unlearning together. We think community is key to keeping each other accountable and staying in this work for the long term, building horizontal structures of support rooted in relationships rather than pyramids of dominant power. For these reasons, we are calling on folks to gather where they already find community, and do so as peers committed to the struggle rather than teachers and students.
Unlearning Circles can take many forms: from an ongoing environmental or reproductive justice lens, to a parenting focus or a faith-based foundation, they are all predominantly white spaces talking about internalized racism, white supremacy and structural racism through a praxis of thinking, feeling and doing.
*** A note about these spaces ***
The nature of our organization and the work we do means that this conversation is facilitated by white people, about whiteness and racism within predominantly white spaces. We understand these spaces as only one piece of a multiracial effort to dismantle racism. This work and these spaces are in response to the current and historical call from black leadership for white anti-racists to organize their own people, and provide material support to their organizing efforts.
While we recognize that the way we as a group navigate this work means that our audience is other white folks, we welcome all who wish to attend, this space is open to all. Our mission statement is included at the end of this document, for those who want to know more.