Hello to all of you cherished readers.
I have a super quick note for those of you on my list who identify as white women.
I had intended to share with you an invitation to a conversation I’ll be having next week in Madison, Wisconsin with my friend and colleague Sara Alvarado.
In Sara’s words: “it’s an evening of truth-telling and a brave space to explore the impact of our whiteness and challenge the ways in which we were raised and continue to be part of the problem. This affinity group is for women who identify as white and who are ready to get honest, face their racism, and put their privilege into action in the service of justice. #RealTalk”
But since she announced the event last week, the tickets are already sold out.
Clearly, there is a need. As if there was any doubt. (And there wasn’t.)
AND, I am still sharing it because Sara has done a brilliant job articulating why we’re doing it, and though you won’t be able to join us, she lays out some thoughts on what you can do as part of your anti-racism efforts and commitments. Because, as my friend and coach Desiree Adaway teaches, awareness without analysis, action, and accountability is not enough.
Why an event for white women only?
Because white women need to be doing their work and this is a place to face whiteness with vulnerability and honesty. No holding back. People of color know whiteness better than most white people and it can be harmful for people of color to have to listen to white people examine their white privilege, their white savior complex, and learn to see how white supremacy is alive within. We want to create less harm. This is not a space where we will learn about black and brown people in their absence. This is not a space where we will teach cultural competency or history. There are teachers of color that we recommend for that. This is where white women can speak without worrying if what they say will be wrong or hurtful. This is how we learn to be better and do better. Not on our own, but with people who are willing to hold each other accountable and challenge each other.
Why are you charging for this event?
Because white people need to invest in their anti-racism work. I don't believe it should be free. I also don't feel comfortable benefiting financially. This is my work in the world and people's lives are at stake. Silence is killing people. Communities of color face horrific injustices. Inaction, ignorance, and fear of doing it wrong is delaying the progress for racial equity. I learned I was part of the problem and realized the only way to be part of the solution was to make it a priority in my life. Yes, tickets are $25, but the money goes to paying the hard costs only, not to the white women involved. Any additional money earned will be donated to Freedom Inc.
If I can't come to this event, what can I do?
Commit to educating yourself about whiteness based on where you are at on your own racial justice journey. Ideas to consider: read Robin DiAngelo's book, White Fragility or So You Want To Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. Find a class online or a seminar or a conference to attend. Push past your comfort zone. Check with your local YWCA or the White Privilege Conference in March. Download Layla Saad's Me and White Supremacy Workbook (for free) and gather some friends together to go through the workbook together. Sign up for my free email series, Conversations about Race. Tune into the podcast Code Switch by NPR.
Make it a priority.
Always be conscious of the people you are following, the music you are buying, the podcasts you are listening to, the books you are reading, the conversations you are having, the articles you are sharing, the beliefs you aren't challenging, the advice you are accepting, the words you are using, the professionals you are hiring, the clothes you are wearing, the thoughts you are thinking, the stereotypes you are speaking, the implicit biases you are influenced by, and the love in your heart.
Like Desiree says, we only get free together.
PS - If you’re in or around Madison, you can catch me at The Social Change Forum on February 28. The conversations will be rich, propulsive, and remarkable and I would LOVE to see you there!