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 other thread that has come to be at the heart of this work for me, is about understanding and healing individual and collective trauma as a central, necessary piece of dismantling racism and other systems of oppression. I have included resources on this work in the lists below.

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.

Many of these resources are not particularly focused on facilitation, coaching, or organizational development consulting, though an increasing number are. This is fundamentally a list of resources that are actively shaping my own questions and understanding at this point in my journey. You will also find some resources on my own Tools for Team Building and Facilitation page.

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

Notice the Rage, Notice the Silence – On Being’s interview with Resmaa Menakem

Heather McGhee discusses racial justice and her book The Sum of Us with Anand Giridharadas – from Literary Arts, the Archive Project

Silent Beats – Jon M. Chu’s Princess Grace Award winning short film about first impressions and assumptions

The Urgency of Intersectionality – a TED talk by KimberlĂ© Crenshaw

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

A Fresh Air interview with Peniel Jospeh, author of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

What is Your Role? Understanding the Ecosystem of Social Change and Where You Fit In – an interview with Deepa Iyer on Nicole Lee’s Inclusive Life

The Other Statistic – a TEDx talk by Larina Warnock on how to support people in moving out of poverty (including some discussion of stereotype threat).

*ed items below are more directly tied to facilitation work.

*Inclusive Life, Nicole Lee’s website and community; resources to engage our own biases and privileges.

*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, and has a great training called Whiteness at Work.

*Dismantling Racism Works Web Workbook was originally designed to support the basic 2-day workshop (not currently offered) that was part of a larger process originally developed by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun. It is now offered as an online community resource.

*The Racial Equity Tools website has an enormous collection of resources at many levels designed for people and organizations working to achieve racial equity. It does include resources specific to facilitation and organizational development.

AlliedMedia.org has many great resources and connections to many transformative projects, including the Emergent Strategies Ideation Institute, which is rooted in a dialogue with adrienne mariee brown’s book Emergent Strategies.

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

Collective Liberation’s website has many useful resources, including curricula developed to address particular issues/situations.

Websites on healing collective trauma and healing justice work include:

Here is a fantastic list of Anti-Racism resources, including TV shows, podcasts, and organizations to follow from Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein in May 2020.

And here is the Black Lives Matter website, a central resource for both learning and invitations to take action.

Books and Articles:
*ed items below are more directly tied to facilitation work.

Please consider buying the books you want to read from a black owned bookstore.

*White Dominant Culture & Something Different – a worksheet based on the framing by Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones, which supports powerful inquiry into how dominant culture norms and dynamics show up in your workplace or life and how to shift them.

*White Supremacy Culture in Organizations – is a longer exploration of the framing presented by DRWorks, originally created by Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones, as adapted by the The Centre for Community Organizations in Montreal, Canada.

*Going to the Root: How White Caucuses Contribute to Racial Justice by Alex Vlassic in the Arrow, July 3, 2019.

Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People by Kelsey Blackwell, the Arrow, August 9, 2018

*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

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

Why We Need a Relational Culture of Co-RegulationRelational Uprising blog post, June 11, 2020

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

From White Racist to White Anti-Racist: the life-long journey by Tema Okun at overcomingracism.org.

How to Be An Antiracist — by Ibram X. Kendi (self-narrated audio book is highly recommended by many folks)

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument – NYT Opinion piece by poet Caroline Randall Williams, June 28, 2020.

We Will Be Seen – Tressie McMillan Cottom On Confronting Racism, Sexism, And Classism in The Sun

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America — by Ira Katznelson

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together — by Heather McGhee

All About Love: New Visions — by bell hooks

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do — by Claude Steele
(Here is a short article addressing Stereotype threat.)

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

The Book of Delights — by Ross Gay

Undrowned:Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals — by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, published by AK Press (many other great titles there)

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

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza — by Gloria Anzaluda

Nejma — by Nayyirah Waheed (poetry)

Bone — by Yrsa Daley-Ward (poetry)

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

This list is very much a work in progress. I have done some related writing in my Different Angles eNewsletter, and intend to do more. I 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 Feminist Survival Podcast by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, and their book: Burnout – The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle (which is a great book on trauma recovery in addition to being a profoundly useful book on the experience of being female in a patriarchal society). Also, here is a link to an interview Brene Brown did with the Nagoski sisters.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

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. (One great introduction to Donna and her work is The Crossing, by Todd Schwartz, Portland Magazine, Winter 2015.)

Where We Store Shame: On memory, identity and ownership“– by Larina Warnock, in Oregon Humanities, April 2021.

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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