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 part of 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.

      November 2022 Unlearning Circle
      Saturday, November 12, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST
      ** Register here

      Please join us on zoom November 12th from 10am-12:00 for our Unlearning Circle Building Skills to Talk about Race. The Unlearning Circles for October through December will be designed to help us continue to build our skills to engage in difficult conversations with others about race.  Engaging in conversations about race can activate our fears around perfectionism and fear of conflict. We might believe that somehow, as individuals, we should know how to have these difficult conversations.  Without practice and reflection on the situation with others, the outcome of our conversations may fall short of our expectations or because we fear we will mess up, not be perfect, we may entirely avoid having the conversation.  

      The Troika consulting process is one way of preparing to have these difficult conversations about race in community. This process will be the centerpiece of the remaining 2022 ULCs.  A Troika is something we can invite others into at any time to support us in thinking through the situations we are in and suggesting possible approaches.  It is one tool that we can utilize to support ourselves and others as we build vital relationships with each other to meet the challenges of anti-racist work.  James Baldwin said, Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.  Join us on October 8th with the gathered UWSA community to face the challenge of building the muscle to have difficult conversations about race.

      Suggested resources:


      *** UWSA also invites you to give us feedback about the ULCs – what you like about our format and focus and ideas you have for ways they could better meet your needs – things you’d like us to try out, explore more, what might be altered, . . ..  Please take a few minutes to email undoingwhitesupremacy@gmail.com with the subject line: feedback ULC



      PAST UNLEARNING CIRCLES:

      September 2022 
      Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

      “To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” 
      -bell hooks

      We seek to have conversations about institutional racism,  unjust systems of oppression, and our accountability to BIPOC folks.  Our aim is to cultivate  accountable relationships in community and foster collective liberation. 

      Imagine a scenario where:

      There IS a collective sense of WE; each of our lives and lived experience is honored; shared truth is rooted in the collective and not the individual; and we “hold each other accountable (another word for supporting each other to be our best selves), [develop relationships and agreements,] set boundaries when people have not learned yet to take responsibility for themselves [and do harm], apologize and take responsibility ourselves when we cause harm, and continue to grow and learn how to be with each other even when we are getting on each other’s last nerve.” (Tema Okun)  

      What holds us back from living this vision? Come along with us as we explore in Community the barriers that we experience in making this vision reality; fear, capacity,  and risk for example. What does it mean to be accountable to ourselves and one another? What steps are we willing to take to get there?

       

       

      August 2022 Unlearning Circle: Our Role in Building Accountable Communities (part 3)
      Saturday, August 13, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

      In previous Unlearning Circles we have explored safety and policing, the policing that is (or is not) happening in our communities, its historical roots, and some alternatives to calling the police. As white people, we are conditioned to believe that the police can both protect us from unsafe situations and from having to see and engage with people’s suffering (e.g. homelessness, untreated mental illness, poverty, etc). We can be so deeply conditioned to avoid others’ suffering that we may not even realize the suffering that exists in our neighborhoods and the communities we are a part of. Addressing the root causes of suffering in our communities would involve building community and working together to address these uncomfortable, messy realities. Yet we are not taught how to build these relationships in our own communities, and are even encouraged to prioritize individualism, which in part is “a belief that you are responsible for and are qualified to solve problems on your own” (https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/individualism.html).

      In our August Unlearning Circle we will discuss our comfort levels with the idea of building and strengthening relationships within our various communities, what barriers exist to creating more belonging in those communities, and what opportunities lie in working through those barriers.

      This Unlearning Circle is for anyone interested–you do not need to have come to prior Unlearning Circles in order to join us on August 13.

      We encourage you to review these resources in advance:

      White Supremacy Culture – Individualism

      10 Ways to Build Community 

      Recommendations for Building a Community-Based Public Safety and Health Ecosystem




      July 2022 Unlearning Circle – cancelled. 

      June 2022 Unlearning Circle:
      Our Role in Building Accountable Communities (part 2)

      Saturday, June 11, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

      Register here.

      The aftermath of the Uvalde School shooting is a hard moment to talk about police abolition. For all the times we’ve said that policing does not solve problems, in the face of horrific violence, those of us racialized as white cannot imagine what else could. Despite clear evidence in this case and thousands like it, that police not only don’t keep us safe, they make life more dangerous, our multi-generational socialization kicks in.

      From Gunsmoke to the Wire, from Law & Order to the nightly news, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that, in violent situations, police are our only option. Conservative politicians already ruthlessly spin the Uvalde story in their arguments for more guns and policing.

      In the face of white supremacy’s delusions around policing, we cannot stand silent. If there was ever a moment that calls for Unlearning, this one is it. In UWSA’s June Unlearning Circle, we will examine and peel back layers of socialization.

      We know that well resourced communities, those with housing, health care, mental health resources, and community connections are safer. Communities of people that institutions recognize as fully human and worthy of protection are safer. We will look at where each of us sit in our own communities and in relation to the violence that keeps us relatively safe. We will ask what we can do, individually and collectively, to make communities and schools safer for us all.  

      Suggested Resources:

       

       

      • May 2022 Unlearning Circle:  Our Role in Building Accountable Communities
      Saturday, May 14, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

      May’s  UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore Our Role in Building Accountable Communities

      We hope you will join us for May’s Unlearning Circle where we will explore our role in building accountable communities.  Historically, white folks relied heavily on police for everyday problems. But thanks to leadership and guidance from communities of color, the tides are turning: every day, more white people want to know how to abandon reliance on police.

      We now recognize that policing does not solve our problems, and worse yet, is truly dangerous to all communities of color, poor and working class folks, disabled folks, queer folks, and more… We understand that policing is not only harmful today, but also has clear, traceable roots to horrific legacies of white supremacist violence: “catching” enslaved people running for freedom; forcing Indigenous peoples out of their lands, in favor of white settlements; protecting white folks’ wealth.

      These days, many of us dream of a world without police and beyond policing. We know our communities thrive with more resources, not more policing.

      How do we envision community safety beyond policing? Black racial and economic justice activist and abolitionist Zach Norris thoughtfully titled his book, “We keep us safe!” So, what is our role in creating secure and just communities? How do we link our anti-racist values to our everyday neighborhood behaviors? Join us for our May Unlearning Circle to explore how we, as white Austinites, might contribute to safer, more accountable communities.

       

        • April 2022 Unlearning Circle:  Transformative Justice (Part 3)
        Saturday, April 9, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

        April’s  UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore Transformative Justice (Part 3).

        Join us as we wrap up our three-part series on Transformative Justice. We have explored what transformative justice is, the movement away from punishment as a solution to harm and a focus on the socialization of shame and blame which are embedded in us as individuals and in the oppressive systems we participate in.  We explored our need for comfort and our conflation of comfort and safety through the tool of theater of the oppressed in somatic exercises.

        In April’s ULC, we will be looking at transformative justice through the lens of relational accountability. What does it feel like to be in accountable relationships? What is the intersection between accountability and transformative justice? What could it look like when we are a part of an intact culture outside a racist paradigm, grounded in ways of sustaining ourselves without the violence of racism, independent of oppressive systems. What if we choose to act out of a different paradigm and could imagine that we are in a community we can trust where accountability feels like a hug? Join us as we explore these questions and broaden our understanding through dialogue and self reflection.

        The following resources can be helpful in preparing for the discussion. Please join us even if you haven’t had a chance to review these resources.

        Saturday, March 12, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

        March’s  UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore Transformative Justice (Part 2).

        Shifting the systems that address harm requires us to understand that our current legal system is rooted in the multi-generational and ancestral socialization of racism. As white people, we have been socialized to believe that violent legal, criminal, and carceral systems–systems rooted in punishment and blame–are necessary to maintain our safety.

        In a racist world, those of us who are racialized as white unconsciously associate our discomfort with the  false idea that something is both profoundly wrong and dangerous. Out of our racist understanding of comfort, Black men and boys are tortured and killed as a consequence of white women’s discomfort.

        In ULCs, we use Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands as a guide in recognizing that racism is deeply embedded in our bodies. This month we continue that work in a new way, using a practice called the Theater of the Oppressed, a practice inspired by Brazilian educator Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, first in Brazil and later in Europe, which rested upon a detailed Marxist class analysis of the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. We hope that this practice might help us imagine new ways to respond to the feelings that come up in our body when we encounter situations that make us deeply uncomfortable.

        Join us for our March Unlearning Circle as we continue to learn what it means to apply transformative justice principles in our own lives.

        The following resources can be helpful in preparing for the discussion. Please join us even if you haven’t had a chance to review these resources.

        Saturday, February 12, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

        February’s  UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore Transformative Justice.

        Unlearning racism is necessarily vulnerable. It requires us to take accountability for the ways in which our behavior can cause harm. Yet many of us struggle to be vulnerable and take accountability out of fear that we will be punished and shamed if we get it “wrong.” So how can we create spaces in which we can be vulnerable and not punish ourselves or each other?

        As we work together to undo racism and build a just society, we can often find ourselves falling into the same traps we are trying to dismantle. We can use shame and blame in an attempt to get people “on board” with the cause, oftentimes without even realizing what we are doing.

        Join us for our February Unlearning Circle as we discuss what it means to apply transformative justice principles in our own lives. We’ll explore what we were taught about punishment and justice, and how punishment shows up in our own lives. We’ll take time to collectively imagine what a world would look like with accountability, but without punishment. We will conclude by identifying small actions we can take towards healing ourselves and making a better world for future generations.

        The following resources can be helpful in preparing for the discussion. Please join us even if you haven’t had a chance to review these resources.

        • January 2022 Unlearning Circle:  Networking – “Building a Net that Works”
        Saturday, January 8, 2022 – 10 am – 12 noon CST

        January’s  UWSA Unlearning Circle will explore the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s  principle – Networking:

        We recognize that the growth of a movement for social transformation requires networking – “building a net that works.” Networking means building principled relationships based on humane values.

        For some of us, the word “networking” may conjure images of settings where the goal is more important than the relationship, and the quantity of relationships matters more than the quality of those relationships. In January’s Unlearning Circle, we will discuss a different kind of networking–the kind of networking necessary for social change to happen. 

        We cannot do this work alone, both because we need support to sustain ourselves and each other in this work, and because undoing white supremacy requires a multitude of skills and perspectives. While the number of meaningful relationships any one of us can sustain is limited when we combine our networks, connecting in coalitions, we are unstoppable in effecting change.

        Please join us to explore what it means to be in “principled relationships based on humane values,” how we can build meaningful connections with one another, and how we center relationship-building in our work to create a more equitable world.

        The following resources can be helpful in preparing for the discussion. Please join us even if you haven’t had a chance to review these resources.

        • in case it helps / bell hooks asé

        by adrienne maree brown on December 1th, 2021

        https://adriennemareebrown.net/2021/12/15/in-case-it-helps-bell-hooks-ase/

        • Building Effective Coalitions for Racial Equity

        by Danielle Sherman on October 18th, 2017

        https://healthyplacesbydesign.org/building-effective-coalitions-for-racial-equity/

        • Lean on Me

        by Bill Withers

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOZgo8gMIoM

        • in relationship with others

        by adrienne maree brown on July 7, 2009

        http://adriennemareebrown.net/2009/07/07/in-relationship-with-others/

        • Let’s Replace Cancel Culture with Accountability

        by Sonya Renee Taylor on January 22, 2021

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vCKwoee27c

        • Relationships – Who Are You With?

        by Fakequity on December 10, 2021

        https://fakequity.com/2021/12/10/relationships-who-are-you-with/

        • Why Coalition, Not Allyship, Is the Necessary Next Step in the Racial Justice Movement

        by Suyin Haynes on June 22, 2021

        https://time.com/6074507/emma-dabiri-what-white-people-can-do-next/

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

          • December 2021 Unlearning Circle:  Undoing Racism – Tensions Experienced by People Who Identify as White in Racial Justice Work
          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

           

          • 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.