June Skillshare – Trainers Network
June 4, 2015
How To Talk About Anti-Black Racism
Facilitators: Aaron Goggans, Lindsay Schubiner, Lasitha Ranatunga

Big Group: All three facilitators introduced themselves and introduced the event. Facilitators shared a time they exhibited anti-black racism and their experience of being called-in or the aftermath response.

Activity: Take 3 minutes and get into pairs. Talk about a time when you exhibited anti-black racism behavior, and how did it make you feel.

Aaron gave an overview of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lasitha quickly reviewed the readings and three pillars of hetropatriachal white supremacy based upon the readings of Dr. Smith (see here). The three pillars are:

1)    Slavery/Capitalism
2)    Genocide/Colonialism
3)    Orientalism/War  

After reviewing the article briefly, everyone was asked to join 1 of the 3 causes: Black, White, and the non-Black People of Color/rest of us caucus.

Notes from the Individual Caucuses:

Black Caucus
-    Internalized Racism
-    Messages of superiority or inferiority from family
-    Does this affect people we are attracted to? Are there desires across racial categories to escape our race?
-    The desire to “fit in” as a youth, especially as a black person in a predominantly non-black/white environment
-    Messages of beauty through media
-    Hierarchies within black populations, including valorizing non-American/African black people
-    Anti-black racism is a global phenomenon
-    Shouldn’t we focus on our common humanity rather than dividing into racial groups?
-    Is respectability neutrality simply a survival mechanism? (eg blaming black people for their problems because there are no     other visible options)
-    We must remember the historical development of internalized racism
-    Self-criticism
-    Either/or does not equal both
-    To understand context is to get caught in middle
-    Subjectivity
-    Internalization of oppression for illusion of safety
-    Even from those who used to be “radical”

Where does “Black Privilege” originate?
-    Forms of media
-    Ingrained in culture
-    Absorption of dominant culture’s values
-    Living in a society that devalues your very identity
-    Intergenerationally-bequeathed values (of fearfully-based practices)
-    Wanting child to be “accepted” vs wanting child to be authentic
-    Self-segregation
-    Silence  internalization
-    “polite society” how to “conduct” self
-    Reaction to childhood socialization
-    Institutions with historically chartered missions to advance whiteness
-    Interplay of gender role expectations with ability to express oneself
-    Need to counteract the urge to apologize for one’s feelings/expression thereof
-    Sometimes we need to speak truth to oppression, which isn’t always diplomatic
-    So Share!
-    Internalization= poison
-    Empathy - Medgar Evers’ point
-    Self-expression—separating self from those w erroneous/oppressive speech
-    White supremacy is based on individualism
-    Solution= community
-    Is it our job to teach truth to oppressive individuals?
-    Prioritizing the approaches
-    Ie. Self care domestically, self-care abroad
-    Each one, teach one approach
-    Consideration of the source of a given affirmation
-    Easier to hear a compliment of physical beauty from another woman of color
-    Patriarchy within the community
-    Exacerbated by colonialism


What we LOVE about being Black
-    Our culture is influential worldwide
-    Interpersonal care and community resources
-    Self-care technique: speak truth to oppression
-    Finding understanding among like-minded
-    Resilience
-    Authenticity of experience
-    Self-care: limit own stress
-    Future vision: a world without oppression
-    Self-determination
-    Comfort in identifying with someone you don’t necessarily know, but shares an experience
-    “Blackness” is not just skin-deep—it is learned

Non-Black POC Caucus

The NBPOC group did two different activities and hassle line. The first scenario was bringing a Black person home to ones parents and the second one was speaking to elders about the importance of responding to anti-black racism.

Prompt: “I don’t agree with how people are making a special case for black people. Our people came here with nothing, and have made something for ourselves—we look out for each other and don’t complain. Actually, I think telling black people their experience is special actually makes things worse, gives them an excuse to blame the system instead of working hard and making their communities better.”

Prompt: “What do you think you’re doing?! You cannot date someone like that! You’re different from them!! How can you disrespect our family like this?!”

Thorns
-    Confronting parents prejudices or strong reactions
-    Trying to change opinions from within
-    Feeling defeated
-    How can we get our families or parents to see who someone is, not based on their race
-    Feeling as if you cannot spend so much time to address racism with a community member
-    Not sure if the political language or words used is being understood
-    Connecting your narrative to the broader struggle with Black Lives Matter.
-    Thorns
-    Using Black as scapegoat
-    Internalized racism (dating)
-    Talk about anti-black  racism in white professional setting
-    Complicity in anti-Black racism (gentrification)
-    Unpacking/undoing colorism in own community
-    Strategies
-    Know and understand your audience
-    Being able to communicate unconditional acceptance focusing on the character of person

Connecting Movements to the BlackLivesMatter Movement
-    Lack of solidarity among our own community (intra oppression)
-    Intersectionality
-    Do we need to be connected/unified with our own community to show solidarity
-    Roles we can play within our communities to be in solidarity
-    How do we bring our struggles together when we’re so separated?
-    Replicating oppression that we exhibit within our own communities ie. Black Muslims
-    Space for political education/analysis to connect our movements- not cooptation
-    Our liberation is tied to liberation of black communities
-    Parking Lot
-    Specific roles within Black Lives Matter organizing
-    Police brutality inspired Arab Spring in Egypt
-    Militarization and state repression underlying all these movements
-    Black Spring

Internalized Racism/Oppression
-    White/black dichotomy
-    Aspiring to whiteness “we made it”
-    Lack of interaction with black communities/segregation
-    Legacies of colonialism
-    Addressing anti-blackness in our own cultures while understanding colonial histories
-    Moments when you are aware of your own anti-blackness but keep perpetuating it
-    Media portrayals
-    Moments of personal safety

Complicity in
-    Gentrification
-    Places where you spend $$
-    Living in NW
-    DC historically black, do we break down barriers in community; how am I complicit seeking out black-owned biz, building relationships/going into other spaces, intentional connecting while respecting not others job 2 educate
-    Blackout Friday
-    Education to action
-    Mindful of w state
-    Mayor’s API LGBT task force -> MPD
-    ANC/Council
-    Involved in local policymaking
-    Be watchful of how cops interact with people in the neighborhood.
-    Follow convos and skills building interacting w black communities

Challenges:
-    Who represents black people if not present in orgs
-    Job security
-    White power structures common in orgs

Solutions:
-    Smile
-    Get on hiring committees
-    HR/evaluations
-    Leave

White Caucus
Role Play #1 Prompt: “Be careful, that neighborhood is really ghetto.”
Role Play #2 Prompt: “You’re so articulate!” Said in a surprised tone to a black person

-    “I picture ‘calling in’ as a practice of pulling folks back in who have strayed from us. It means extending to ourselves the reality that we will and do fuck up, we stray and there will always be a chance for us to return. Calling in as a practice of loving each other enough to allow each other to make mistakes; a practice of loving ourselves enough to know that what we’re trying to do here is a radical unlearning of everything we have been configured to believe is normal.” – Article from Black Girl Dangerous

Reflection
-    How did it feel to be challenged?
-    How did it feel to challenge someone?
-    What did you say that worked or didn’t work?
-    What strategies made you feel: defensive? Open? Interested? Angry? Understood?
-    What helped generate conversation and what shut it down?
-    What did the conversation bring up for you personally?

What worked
-    Send articles/writings by black people
-    Asking questions (compassionately)
-    Be humble- remember that we’re all in a process. Recognize ignorance (vs. malice)
-    Not assuming what someone thinks
-    Meeting someone where they’re at
-    Recognizing the complexity of a situation and be sensitive to timing
-    Remembering that it doesn’t mean they’re not well-intentioned or an ally
-    Remember ally is a verb—ALWAYS in process. And we all have to constantly do the internal work
-    Seeing that we’re both on the same side, learning together

 

Ways to stay involved:
 
- Join Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)'s email listserv and facebook group.
- Join Asian Pacific Islander (API) Resistance by emailing apiresistance@gmail.com
- Join DCFerguson and check their wesbite here
- Join a SURJ reading group! Email Julia Clemons <jcclemons@gmail.com>. Also, let her know if you are interested in helping organize the groups
- Join one of these volunteer listservs: General Support, Legal Support, Self Care, Training, Accounting, Facilitation, Graphic Design. Email Robby Diesu <52diesu@gmail.com>



Readings:

1. Article on calling people in and the importance of doing so as a white person

2. Color of Violence - The Three Pillars of Hetropatriarchy

3. Baltimore - Why We Caucus

4. Calling In: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable