Whiteness and Systematic Racism

“Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love… What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic.
Power, at its best, is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love[1]… It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times.”

Martin Luther King Jr. – delivered during his last presidential address
to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on August 16, 1967

Much of what I have been doing in the last few years to increase my ability to address how privilege and systematic oppression create barriers to working together in service to “love implementing the demands of justice” has focused on understanding whiteness and systemic racism. This is because of where I stand in the relationships of power and privilege; as a white woman, this is where my own frontline work is.

The list below is intended primarily as a resource for other white people, to help us dig more deeply into the exploration of whiteness and systemic racism in service both to our own healing and transformation, and to doing proactive and effective anti-racism work.

Most of these resources are not particularly focused on facilitation, coaching, or organizational development consulting; they are more foundational. This is also simply a list of resources that are actively shaping my own questions and understanding at this point in my journey, not a comprehensive or researched resource list.

Audio and Video:

Seeing White – a series done as part of the Scene on Radio podcast, 2017-2018.

The World is Our Field of PracticeOn Being’s interview with angel Kyodo williams

How to Survive the End of the World– The Brown Sisters’ podcast (this does include some discussion about facilitation and working in community)


Desiree Adaway’s blog has great reflections on strategies for cultivating inclusion and equity in the workplace. She also does organizational development work and training for individuals and organizations.

350PDX’s website has an excellent collection of resources on environmental justice and white supremacy.

Books and Articles:

From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue Around Diversity and Social Justice by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation – by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, and Lama Rod Owens, with Jasmine Seydullah, PhD

We Will Be Seen – Tressie McMillan Cottom On Confronting Racism, Sexism, And Classism in The Sun: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/530/we-will-be-seen

All About Love: New Visions – by bell hooks

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do – by Claude Steele

So You Want To Talk About Race – by Ijeoma Oluo

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – by Robin DiAngelo

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racializing Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies – by Resmaa Menakem

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist – by Eli Saslow

Not Quite White: Losing and Finding Race in America – by Sen Sharmila

Citizen: An American Lyric – by Claudia Rankine

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nihisi Coates

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – by Isabel Wilkerson

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 – by Taylor Branch

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley – by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape – by Laurent Savoy

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza – by Gloria Anzaludúa

Nejma – by Nayyirah Waheed (poetry)

Words Under the Words and Fuel – by Naomi Shihab Nye (poetry)

This list is very much a work in progress. I have done a little writing on the need to create “brave spaces” rather than “safe spaces,” which will appear in my Different Angles eNewsletter shortly. I intend to do more writing soon, and hope to find other people who are writing about how to work with these dynamics in facilitation. Suggestions are most welcome, and can be emailed to me.

A Few (fairly random) Resources on Gender and Class

Whiteness and racism are one of many systems of power and privilege that shape the world we live in today. Below are a few resources on other sources of oppression and othering.  

The Way We Never Were: American Families and The Nostalgia Trap– by Stephanie Coontz

Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much – by Sendhil Mullainathan

Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good – by Chuck Collins

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America – by Barbara Ehrenreich

Articles on Donna Beegle’s Communication Across Barriers website.

This is just a beginning of what will spin off into its own resources page soon. I would like to add some materials on gender identity and related topics. Suggestions are very welcome, and can be emailed to me.

[1] Emphasis mine.

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