Unlearning Circles


ABOUT UNLEARNING CIRCLES:
UWSA’s first Unlearning Circle in the winter of 2017 was created as a place for white people to do the work of reflection and community self-education. As we continue to gather to critically examine our own participation in cultures of dominance, we build our capacity to show up as individuals and as a city-wide community network for Black, Indigenous and people of color-led anti-racist efforts in a positive and accountable way.  The Unlearning Circles are an opportunity for white identifying people to explore white supremacy culture and our role and responsibilities in undoing racism. We welcome and recognize the gift of the presence of any People of Color who choose to join us.

    • December 2021 Unlearning Circle:  Undoing Racism – Tensions Experienced by People Who Identify as White in Racial Justice Work
    • Register here
    Saturday, December 11, 2021 – 10 am – 12 noon CST


    We can all agree that racism is harmful and we must work to eradicate it from ourselves and our systems. Undoing racism will be our topic for the December Unlearning Circle. This simple statement for messy, complicated and intersectional work is broad and we will be focusing on working as self-identifying “white” people as we explore some of the tensions we commonly experience. While our intentions are good, we often start down a path only to realize that we are engaging in practices that perpetuate racism. Sometimes, we encounter seemingly contradictory messages that leave us unsure how to proceed, that tempt us to drop out or paralyze us with fear of “getting it wrong”. The People’s Institute reminds us
    Racism is the single most critical barrier to building effective coalitions for social change. How are we in accountable relationships when our actions and/or presence can be harmful in multi racial spaces? How do we balance compassion, care and universal love with holding each other accountable? How does the tension between our desire to act and not being sure about what to do, create a barrier to building effective coalitions?

    Please join us this month to explore these confusing experiences and discuss what we can do to navigate these difficult situations so that we can be more effective co conspirators. The following resources can be helpful in preparing for the discussion.

    December’s  UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore the People’s Institute principle: Undoing Racism:
    Racism is the single most critical barrier to building effective coalitions for social change. Racism has been consciously and systematically erected, and it can be undone only if people understand what it is, where it comes from, how it functions, and why it is perpetuated.

    Unlearning Circle Resources:

    People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond:  Antiracist Principles
    Contradictions for White People:  https://reneeroederer.com/2020/06/18/contradictions-for-white-people-in-racial-justice-work/amp/

    Tema Okun’s website:https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/
    Direct link to “White Supremacy Culture – Still Here”: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XR_7M_9qa64zZ00_JyFVTAjmjVU-uSz8/view

    PAST UNLEARNING CIRCLES:

    • November 2021 Unlearning Circle:  Analyzing Power
    November’s UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore the People’s Institute principle: Analyzing Power

    As a society, we often believe that individuals and/or their communities are solely responsible for their conditions. Through the analysis of institutional power, we can identify and unpack the systems external to the community that create the internal realities many people experience daily.

    We have been brainwashed to assign responsibility for what happens to people in our society solely to individual choices. Racism is ascribed to racist feelings and actions on the part of individuals, instead of the systems and institutions that were set up to create racism, and to re-create racism over and over again. Please join us in this month’s Unlearning Circle, where together we will look at how racism was, and is “done”, shining light on the power exercised by legal, economic, and social institutions to oppress BIPOC communities.  

    Unlearning Circle Resources:

    People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles
    The problem is white supremacy: ‘Systemic racism’ conveys the pervasiveness of racial oppression, but white supremacy goes further by indicating that there is a rigid nexus of power that protects and enforces it. By Barbara Smith Updated June 30, 2020, 12:01 p.m.
    Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology: Beyond Prejudice and Micro-Aggressions; Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D; Updated July 21, 2020
    Opinion: Texas’ denial of systemic racism upholds white power By Kerry Sinanan; 10/13/21

    • October 2021 Unlearning Circle:  Accountability
    Saturday, October 9, 2021 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

    October’s UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore the People’s Institute principle: Maintaining Accountability.

    Organizing with integrity requires that we be accountable to the communities struggling with racist oppression.

    Conversations about accountability among white people usually begin and end with a focus on individual accountability. They center holding each other accountable. 

    Taking a page from our Black elders at the People’s Institute, however, our conversation will focus on accountability within the framework of organizing. Together we will identify our organizing communities. We will explore how accountability demands that our organizing communities build principled relationships with those who share our anti-racist values. Relationships that uplift the humanity of all of us. We will share history, strategies, and challenges in being accountable, as a community, to communities who struggle with racist oppression. We will consider how accountable relationships have provided a foundation for community organizing power. 

    Unlearning Circle Resources:

    People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles https://www.pisab.org/our-principles/

    Accountability in a Time of Justice – Vivette Jeffries-Logan, Michelle Johnson, Tema Okum; https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/accountability.jjo.drworks.pdf

    • September 2021 Unlearning Circle:  Sharing Culture

    Saturday, September 11, 2021 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

    The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) describes the Undoing Racism principle of Sharing Culture as, “Culture is the life support system of a community. If a community’s culture is respected and nurtured, the community’s power will grow”.

    What is culture, and what do we mean when we talk about white culture in the United States? What is your/your ancestors’ story regarding how they came to this land, and what was their experience in relationship to the dominant culture?
    What cultures, subcultures, and communities do you consider yourself a part of? Are there ways your communities reinforce dominant American power structures? Are there other ways your communities nurture resistance?

    How can we generate a way of being with each other that honors and respects all cultures?

    Please come to this Unlearning Circle ready to share a piece of your cultural identity (a song, a dance, a story, a family recipe, an heirloom, etc.) that gives you life. We will also do a short journaling exercise.


    Unlearning Circle Resources –

    People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles
    https://www.pisab.org/our-principles/

    White Culture Handout   https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/RSJI/GRE/whiteculturehandout.pdf

    ‘White immigrants weren’t always considered white — and acceptable” Brando Starkey
    https://theundefeated.com/features/white-immigrants-werent-always-considered-white-and-acceptable/

     

    • August Unlearning Circle:  Gatekeeping and Accountability
    • Saturday, August 14, 2021 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

    The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond defines the anti-racist principle of gatekeeping as follows: 

    Persons who work in institutions function as gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are expected to ensure that the institution perpetuates itself. The gatekeeper becomes an agent of institutional transformation by operating with anti-racist values and networking with those who share those values and maintain accountability in the community. Gatekeepers regulate the progress and speed of social change.

    What do you see in your mind’s eye when you imagine a gate? What are the gates that you keep?

    In some way, we are all gatekeepers. We control information flow. We interpret, define, measure, evaluate, translate, and speak for people-with or without their permission. We titrate the progress of social change. We manage the gate, but we don’t own the gate. 

    We all have power. When we don’t understand, or fail to acknowledge our power, we are dangerous particularly to those who are most directly impacted by not having access to that power, those who are Black, indigenous and people of color and who have other marginalized identities.

    In this Unlearning Circle, we will explore together our roles as gatekeepers. We will help each other discover how, in our gatekeeping roles, we can be accountable for the power we have to support racial justice.

    Please join us for this juicy conversation.

    Unlearning Circle Resources –

      Accountability:

      https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/accountability.jjo.drworks.pdf – interesting article about accountability and power.

      Gatekeeping:

      https://healthyplacesbydesign.org/open-the-gates-you-keep/ – interesting blog on gatekeeping

      https://medium.com/the-establishment/why-its-important-to-challenge-the-power-of-gatekeepers-a688572da8e8 – article on gatekeeping Toronto

      • July Unlearning Circle:  Internalized White Superiority
      Saturday, July 10, 2021 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

      The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond teaches us that in order to undo racism we who self-identify as white must analyze and explore our own internalized belief that we are superior to Black, Indigenous and People of Color. PISAB defines internalized racial superiority as:

      The acceptance of and acting out of a superior definition is rooted in the historical designation of one’s race. Over many generations, this process of empowerment and access expresses itself as unearned privileges, access to institutional power, and invisible advantages based upon race.

      While we may not consciously think this, our behaviors often expose our deep-seated bias. As such, our institutions and systems are also based on this belief of white supremacy. Our Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal”, so it can be easy to assume this is how our country was founded and how it runs. This concept of internalized racial superiority is so abhorrent to us that we avoid thinking about it, deny it and distance ourselves from it with ideas such as “color blindness” and the “oneness of all humanity” — resulting in harm to our non-white neighbors and friends.

      As white people, it is often hard to see internalized racial superiority play out in ourselves and our institutions; but working collectively in honest conversation and reflection allows us to dive deeper than we can on our own. Please join us for this important discussion at our Unlearning Circle on July 10, 2021.
      *** We recommend you have a journal (or paper) and pen handy for a self-reflection exercise.

       

      June 12, 2021 @ 10 am CDT
      Unlearning Circle:  Developing Anti-racist Leadership
      Register Here

      The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond teaches us that in order to undo racism, we must develop “anti-racist leadership […] intentionally and systematically within local communities and organizations”. In order to develop anti-racist leadership, we must break down the myths we are taught in the United States about “leadership”, what makes good “leaders”, and what we expect our leaders to do on our behalf. In order to undo racism, it is important to develop anti-racist leadership in ourselves and in our organizing. This requires us to consider models of leadership other than those dictated by white supremacy culture.  We need each other to cultivate an accountable pathway to anti-racist leadership.

      Unlearning Circle Resources: 

      The Problem of the White SaviorExcerpt from Jordan Flaherty’s No More Heroes

      KXAN – City funds pay for gift cards to increase participation at reimagining public safety listening session

      Black Lives Matter is a case study in a new kind of leadership — here’s how the movement grew to international prominence in just 7 years

      People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles 

       

      May 15, 2021 @ 10 am CDT
      Unlearning Circle:  Learning from the History of Whiteness
      Register Here

      History is a tool for effective organizing. Understanding the lessons of history allows us to create a more humane future. – PISAB

      The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond teaches us that in order to undo racism, we must learn from history. The history of racism in the United States is synonymous with the creation of whiteness. “White” as a racial category was conceived in the American colonies as the way to divide and conquer people in order to suppress interracial alliances with African slaves. Whiteness does exist without anti-blackness.

      As we learn from history, what does it mean to be white? What does it mean to be a white anti-racist?

      Unlearning Circle Resources:

      April 17, 2021 @ 10 am CST
      Unlearning Circle:  Homelessness and the Racialization of Space

      The May 1, 2021 City of Austin special election ballot contains Prop B, which would recriminalize all  of the following:

        • “sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in and near the Downtown area around the University of Texas campus”
        • “solicitation, […], at specific hours and locations or for solicitation in a public area that is deemed aggressive in manner”
        • “for camping in any [unapproved] public area”

      Recriminalization is an excuse for police to harass our unhoused neighbors and the violence of that policing lands disproportionally on those who are Black and People of Color. The $500 fine initiates a cascade of consequences: warrants, arrests, a criminal record and challenges to finding housing and work that ensure their problems continue. 

      Alongside this ballot legalese, public debates and discourses around the issue of homelessness in Austin have exposed a harmful “us versus them” mentality against our neighbors experiencing homelessness. A frequent argument for Prop B suggests reinstating the camping ban will improve “public safety”. Public safety for whom?  Why is the emotional comfort of people in power given more value than the physical safety of unhoused folks in our city? What makes some properties worth “protecting” over others, and who makes those decisions? What designates other sites as acceptable for industrial development or camping, and who makes those decisions? 

      In order to undo this harm, we must analyze the social structures that enable homelessness to exist in Austin and our society at-large. How are we complicit in upholding these systems?

      Unlearning Circle Resources:

      March 13, 2021 @ 10 am CST
      Unlearning Circle:  Anti-Blackness – White Innocence
      Register: https://actionnetwork.org/events/unlearning-circle-anti-blackness/  

      “The spatial politics of safety organizes the urban landscape. Bodies that arouse feelings of fear, disgust, rage, guilt, or even discomfort must be made disposable and targeted for removal in order to secure a sense of safety for whites. In other words, the space that white people occupy must be cleansed. The visibility of poor Black bodies (as well as certain non-Black POC, trans people, homeless people, differently-abled people, and so forth) induces anxiety, so these bodies must be contained, controlled, and removed. Prisons and urban ghettoes prevent Black and brown bodies from contaminating white space. Historically, appeals to the safety of women have sanctioned the expansion of the police and prison regimes while conjuring the racist image of the Black male rapist.”  ~ Jackie Wang in Against Innocence: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Safety.

      This unlearning circle will explore the myth of white innocence as a manifestation of anti-blackness.

      Unlearning Circle Resources:

      February 13, 2021 @ 10 am CST
      Unlearning Circle: White Supremacy Culture – Anti-Blackness 
      Register: https://actionnetwork.org/events/unlearning-circle-anti-blackness/  

      Anti-blackness is foundational to racism, particularly in the United States. We cannot dismantle white supremacy without uprooting anti-blackness. In February’s Unlearning Circle we will come together to explore what anti-blackness is and how it operates in our relationships and within us. Please join us in discussion as we work to unlearn and dismantle this pillar of white supremacy.  January 9, 2021 @ 10 am CST
      Unlearning Circle: White Supremacy Culture – Either/Or Thinking 
      Register: https://actionnetwork.org/events/ulc-either-or-thinking/

      In a world that so often feels defined by extremes, it can be tempting to rely on the white supremacy culture characteristic of either/or thinking*, where we define events, ideas, and people as either all good or all bad . As we look towards Joe Biden’s inauguration and the political conflicts that exist both in Congress and in our communities, we can also see the looming trap of either/or thinking – that we can only be either in support of or in opposition to a politician or a policy platform, rather than allowing room for an approach that includes strong support for some positions and vocal critique of others. 

      In our own lives, either/or thinking is frequently tied to perfectionism and a fear of making mistakes. For white folks striving to practice anti-racism, this can show up in the idea that there are “good white people” and “bad white people,” which can lead us to avoid taking risks or honestly examining how we enact white supremacy for fear of threatening our status as “good white people.” Outside of either/or thinking is space for nuance, growth, and a fuller embrace of our own and others’ humanity. 

      Join us for an unlearning circle where we will explore the ways that either/or thinking shows up in our lives and ask: how can we recognize and release either/or thinking in service of dismantling white supremacy culture? 

      *Credit to Tema Okun and Keneth Jones for their work naming and describing characteristics of white supremacy culture

      ABOUT UNLEARNING CIRCLES: 

      UWSA’s first Unlearning Circle in the winter of 2017 was created as a place for white people to do the work of reflection and community self-education. As we continue to gather to critically examine our own participation in cultures of dominance, we build our capacity to show up as individuals and as a city-wide community network for Black, Indigenous and people of color-led anti-racist efforts in a positive and accountable way.  The Unlearning Circles are an opportunity for white identifying people to explore white supremacy culture and our role and responsibilities in undoing racism. We welcome and recognize the gift of the presence of any People of Color who choose to join us. 

      Resources:

      Excommunicate Me from the Church of SJ
      https://www.autostraddle.com/kin-aesthetics-excommunicate-me-from-the-church-of-social-justice-386640/ 

      White Supremacy Culture PDF
      https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/okun_-_white_sup_culture.pdf

      People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles
      https://www.pisab.org/our-principles/

      December 19, 2020 @ 10 am CST
      2020 Series: White Supremacy Culture
      Unlearning Circle: Paternalism
      Register: https://actionnetwork.org/events/unlearning-circle-paternalism/

      As we move forward into the new year, President-elect Biden will take office and we look forward to the marked differences in the new administration. However, Biden has demonstrated characteristics of white supremacy, such as paternalism. In an interview before the election, he said that “you ain’t black” if you vote for President Trump. Biden apologized for the statement, but it will be important to continue to hold him accountable as he begins his presidency. Like Biden, white liberals often assume that they know what is best for BIPOC people and make decisions based on their assumptions. By doing so, white people maintain their power, instead of building power, and miss the solutions from those closest to the problems.  

      Thus, we will be considering how paternalism appears in various contexts- including our President-elect, nonprofits and their funding sources, and our own giving during this time of year (is it charity or solidarity?). We will discuss these personal ways we define for others what they need and move into fixing instead of inquiring. 

      Join us for an unlearning circle where we will delve into our paternalism in our lives and ask: how can we recognize and interrupt our paternalism in order to dismantle white supremacy culture and create lasting solutions?

      ABOUT UNLEARNING CIRCLES: 

      UWSA’s first Unlearning Circle in the winter of 2017 was created as a place for white people to do the work of reflection and community self-education. As we continue to gather to critically examine our own participation in cultures of dominance, we build our capacity to show up as individuals and as a city-wide community network for Black, Indigenous and people of color-led anti-racist efforts in a positive and accountable way.  The Unlearning Circles are an opportunity for white identifying people to explore white supremacy culture and our role and responsibilities in undoing racism. We welcome and recognize the gift of the presence of any People of Color who choose to join us. 

      Resources:

      Racism in America: From Trump’s Hate to Biden’s Paternalism 
      https://washingtonmonthly.com/2019/09/18/racism-in-america-from-trumps-hate-to-bidens-paternalism

      “Have Nonprofits Become the White Moderate Dr. King Warned Us About?”
      https://nonprofitaf.com/2020/06/have-nonprofit-and-philanthropy-become-the-white-moderate-that-dr-king-warned-us-about/

      “Holiday Adopt a Family-Does It Perpetuate White Supremacy?”
      https://fakequity.com/

      White Supremacy Culture PDF
      https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/okun_-_white_sup_culture.pdf

      People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles
      https://www.pisab.org/our-principles/

      November 14, 2020 @ 10 am CST
      2020 Series: White Supremacy Culture
      Unlearning Circle:
      Power Hoarding: Exploring Our Relationship with the Power We Hold
      Register: https://actionnetwork.org/events/unlearning-circle-white-supremacy-culture-4 

      The election is over and Joe Biden, who has been named the new President-Elect, is calling for unity and healing. Yet, we also have a President, supported by the majority of white voters, who is refusing to concede, and Democrats asserting that there is a paucity of nonwhite representation in the party leadership and that calls for racial justice cost house seats. While it is easy to see power hoarding in Donald Trump’s behavior, and it is somewhat less visible in the voices of Democrats celebrating a ‘centrist’ victory, it is hardest to acknowledge how power hoarding manifests in ourselves.

      Join us for an unlearning circle where we will delve into our own personal hoarding of power as we ask:: how can we recognize and mobilize, share, and/or cede our power in service of dismantling white supremacy culture?

      ABOUT UNLEARNING CIRCLES: UWSA’s first Unlearning Circle in the winter of 2017 was created as a place for white people to do the work of reflection and community self-education. As we continue to gather to critically examine our own participation in cultures of dominance, we build our capacity to show up as individuals and as a city-wide community network for Black, Indigenous and people of color-led anti-racist efforts in a positive and accountable way. The Unlearning Circles are an opportunity for white identifying people to explore white supremacy culture and our role and responsibilities in undoing racism. We welcome and recognize the gift of the presence of any People of Color who choose to join us.

      Resources:

      White Supremacy Cultural Characteristics:
      https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/okun_-_white_sup_culture.pdf

      People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles: https://www.pisab.org/our-principles/

      https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/black-voters-win-election/

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/08/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-ends-truce-by-warning-incompetent-democratic-party

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/

      ____________________________

      October 10, 2020 @ 10 am CST
      2020 Series: White Supremacy Culture
      Unlearning Circle: Fear of Open Conflict – Part II 

      Register: https://actionnetwork.org/events/unlearning-circle-white-supremacy-culture-3

      Please join us for a second month examining the fear of open conflict, as we move from an individual, personal lens to a collective, community lens. How does this conflict avoidance inform how we interpret the world, and how and what we consider to be unpleasant, uncomfortable or violent? And how does the fear of open conflict shape our politics and our approaches to social change and anti-racism? 

      ABOUT UNLEARNING CIRCLES: UWSA’s first Unlearning Circle in the winter of 2017 was created as a place for white people to do the work of reflection and community self-education. As we continue to gather to critically examine our own participation in cultures of dominance, we build our capacity to show up as individuals and as a city-wide community network for Black, Indigenous and people of color-led anti-racist efforts in a positive and accountable way. The Unlearning Circles are an opportunity for white identifying people to explore white supremacy culture and our role and responsibilities in undoing racism. We welcome and recognize the gift of the presence of any People of Color who choose to join us.

      RESOURCES: 

      White Supremacy Culture PDF https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/okun_-_white_sup_culture.pdf

      https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2019/03/14/700897826/when-civility-is-used-as-a-cudgel-against-people-of-color

      https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/06/riots-are-american-way-george-floyd-protests/612466/ 

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/ 

      ____________________________

      September 12, 2020 @ 10 am 
      2020 Series: White Supremacy Culture
      Unlearning Circle: Fear of Open Conflict
      Register: https://actionnetwork.org/events/unlearning-circle-september2020/

      “We cannot allow our fear of anger to deflect us nor seduce us into settling for anything less than the hard work of excavating honesty…” Audre Lorde 1981

      UWSA’s September Unlearning Circle will focus on the characteristic of fear of open conflict in the continuation of our series on White Culture Characteristics. Come and explore how fear of open conflict is both a barrier for our engagement in anti-racism work and also upholds white supremacy culture. This topic will address issues such as our socialization to value politeness at the expense of important changes and how civility shuts down conversations on race. In our unlearning circles, we engage in large and small group discussions to address racism at individual, cultural and systemic levels.

      ABOUT UNLEARNING CIRCLES: UWSA’s first Unlearning Circle in the winter of 2017 was created as a place for white people to do the work of reflection and community self-education. As we continue to gather to critically examine our own participation in cultures of dominance, we build our capacity to show up as individuals and as a city-wide community network for Black, Indigenous and people of color-led anti-racist efforts in a positive and accountable way. The Unlearning Circles are an opportunity for white identifying people to explore white supremacy culture and our role and responsibilities in undoing racism. We welcome and recognize the gift of the presence of any People of Color who choose to join us.

      ____________________________

      Resources:

      White Supremacy Culture PDF https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/okun_-_white_sup_culture.pdf

      People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – Antiracist Principles: https://www.pisab.org/our-principles/

      short summary from Robin DiAngelo on niceness and how it is an evasion to real anti racism work https://bigthink.com/videos/why-does-systemic-racism-exist 

      A Conversation with White People on Race https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXow7olFyIM&t=234s

      Martin Luther King and the ‘polite’ racism of white liberals https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/01/17/martin-luther-king-polite-racism-white-liberals

      *********************

      What too many white people still don’t understand about racism https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/06/09/magazine/what-too-many-white-people-still-dont-understand-about-racism/

      ____________________________

      August 8, 2020 @ 10 am 
      2020 Series: White Supremacy Culture
      Unlearning Circle: Perfectionism 

      UWSA’s first Unlearning Circle in the winter of 2017 was created as a place for white people to do the work of reflection and community self-education. As we continue to gather to critically examine our own participation in cultures of dominance, we build our capacity to show up as individuals and as a city-wide community network for Black, Indigenous and people of color-led anti-racist efforts in a positive and accountable way.

      In July 2020, UWSA held the first in a multi-month Unlearning series that will explore how people, and white people in particular, have been racialized and socialized in white supremacy culture. We ground these circles in the work of Tema Okun and others, such as Kenneth Jones, and Daniel Buford of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, who have outlined these characteristics. Our discussion will focus on how these aspects shape our cultural norms: how we think and act, and how they show up in our institutions and our communities. 

      We begin this series with a reflection of white folks’ internalized sense of urgency because, over the past month, many white people are “waking up to racism.” With so many white people urgently wanting to become “anti-racist”, how can we, as white folks, harness our energies to support the racial justice work led by communities of color who have been fighting white supremacy for generations?

      ____________________________

      Saturday, June 27, 2020 @ 10 am
      2020 Series: Violence Perpetuated by White Supremacy Culture
      Liberal White Women and the Violence of White Supremacy

      Register for the June 27 Unlearning Circle
      Our Group Agreements
      More About Undoing White Supremacy Austin

      UWSA’s June Unlearning Circle will focus on liberal white women’s role in perpetuating the violence of White Supremacy, especially on Black bodies.  White people imagine danger into the bodies of Black people, when the inverse is actually true.  Resmaa Menakem, a cultural trauma navigator, has observed that “the myth of the fragility of white bodies and the corresponding fear of Black ones lives on.”

      White people like Amy Cooper regularly call upon police to sustain their sense of white superiority and control over others. White supremacy still protects white bodies and inflicts violence on Black-bodied people.  White women have been both active participants and willing beneficiaries in upholding racial terror throughout our country’s history.  Liberal women’s voices speak out for all humanity whilepreserving their comfort under the mantle of “niceness”.  This gaslighting prevents bold, informed action to end the impact of the White Supremacy Culture.

      This path is an opportunity for white identifying people to explore white supremacy culture and our role and responsibilities in undoing racism. We welcome and recognize the gift of the presence of any People of Color who choose to join us.
      ____________________________

      Recommended reading, listening, and/or viewing to prepare for our conversation

      NPR’s On the Media: The weaponization of white womanhood (Radio Show)

      https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/otm/episodes/on-the-media-boiling-point

      Dame Magazine: White Women Aren’t Afraid: They Want Power over Black People

      https://www.damemagazine.com/2018/07/30/white-women-arent-afraid-of-black-people-they-want-pretty-power/

      New York Times: How White Women Use Themselves as Instruments of Terror

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/opinion/racism-white-women.html

      White Noise Collective Interview: Definition of White Womanhood and Systems of Violence

      White Womanhood & Systems of Violence

      Vox: How Southern Socialites Rewrote Civil War History (7 min video)

      Washington Post: Amy Cooper and George Floyd represent two versions of racism black Americans face every day. Central Park and Minneapolis are not isolated incidents.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/28/how-amy-cooper-george-floyd-represent-two-versions-racism-that-black-americans-face-every-day/

      UWSA relies heavily on the Principles and steps of Undoing Racism promulgated by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB). As our nation is in upheaval because of the violence perpetrated by White Supremacy Culture, we will explore the role of white liberal women in this experience.

      This series is based on the PISAB principle of Identifying and Analyzing the Manifestations of Racism:  Individual acts of racism are supported by institutions and are nurtured by the societal practices such as militarism and cultural racism, which enforce and perpetuate racism.

      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.