White Work: Dissolving White Supremacy Culture *As It Lives In Us*

White Work: Dissolving White Supremacy Culture As It Lives In Us.

A healed body is a body that can honor everyone else’s human experience.

—Rev. Ben McBride

Ready to register? Click here!

What is White Work?

WW is first and foremost a reflection and healing space for white people who want to dissolve white supremacy culture as it operates in us, our families, our schools, and in the other places where we lead and/or spend time.

We start with the assumption that white supremacy culture does in fact live in all of us, and that we, our families, and our wider community all benefit when we have opportunities to reflect, begin to disengage, heal, and find a deeper center of gravity inside ourselves.

When we do this in the context of a caring community of peers, we find ourselves increasingly (re-)humanized–and better prepared to participate in shifting systems and structures to align with racial equity and dignity for all.

When does it meet? What is involved

White Work will meet on Monday evenings (6:30-8:30 over Zoom). Over 8 weeks, we compassionately, yet with rigorous self honesty, view ourselves through the lens of the 15 attributes of white supremacy culture (as laid out by Tema Okun in her article by the same name, Attributes of White Supremacy Culture), with an eye toward how these live in us, and how we perpetuate them in how we parent, work and lead our lives. We will also look at the antidotes to white supremacy culture, and infuse our time together with this new way.

The course will start on Monday September 13. We will meet weekly for eight weeks.

We will skip October 11 to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The last day of the course will be on November 8.

In each session, the leader will offer a short reflection about the “white supremacy attributes of the week.” Participants will be given an opportunity to reflect and share about how these attributes are operating in our own lives. Every participant will have the opportunity to be deeply heard in this self-reflection and healing space. This is a non-judgmental space where we practice compassionate listening and sharing from the “underbelly” of our own whiteness.

Participants will also be asked to commit to a daily practice (even for just a few minutes) of connecting to our inner selves through meditation, embodied practice, journaling or another similar practice. White Work leaders will provide instruction for possible practices to help you connect within; you can also practice in your own way, if you have a preferred way to center. The goal is to create an inward “pause and listen” moment each day.   

What is the cost?

The cost of the 8-week course is $400, $350 if you register by 9/6. Register now!

50% of proceeds will support Berkeley-based Black-led community healing initiatives through the Center for Food Faith and Justice. The other 50% will pay teachers of White Work and support our other justice work in the wider community.

50% of the proceeds will pay White Work facilitators. As white educators, we recognize the complexity and moral ambiguity of receiving funds for doing this work. However, White Work facilitators live in the Bay Area and are subject to the high cost of living here. In order to hold spacious, grounded, healing spaces with integrity, we need to receive pay for our labor. 

Who is this for?

This is designed for white-identified parents and community members who are or wish to participate in creating racial equity in the BUSD and in the wider Berkeley community. You do not have to have a child in the BUSD, and you do not need to live in Berkeley. You only need to be invested in furthering racial equity in this community, while recognizing that change must start and be sustained from within.

If you wish to participate but you do not live, work, study or worship in Berkeley, you are still welcome here! Feel free to participate in order to bring your experience to your own community.

Why this? Why now?

Over the past year, as white people, we have been waking up at new levels to the brutal realities of racial violence and inequity in the United States, and to the devastating impact on our Black and Brown neighbors. In our progressive Berkeley community, many of us are now well-read on the topic of racism, and we are well-intentioned in terms of dismantling it in our systems and structures. However, we recognize that “waking up” to racism as white people is not a one-time event that can be “achieved” through intellectual understanding alone. Nor can it be “made right” exclusively through outer action. We recognize that true antiracism work needs to fundamentally transform our way of being human and our way of being together in community.

At White Work, we believe that the inner work of dissolving white supremacy culture as it lives in us as white people, and as we perpetuate it in the spaces where we take leadership,  is a critical and ongoing part of dismantling racist systems and creating a social world marked by equity, inclusion, and dignity for all. 

However, white people’s inner work must always point to, resource and lift up local Black and Brown leadership. Otherwise white healing work becomes another way to hoard resources.

For this reason, 50%* of proceeds from White Work are dedicated to the Center for Food, Faith and Justice (CFFJ), a Black-led community based organization with deep roots in the Berkeley community. CFFJ is dedicated to “raising healthy communities from the soil to the soul.” 

The leaders of CFFJ are among those who have held the torch for Black and Brown healing and empowerment, inclusion, equity and justice in Berkeley since long before most of us became aware of how desperately our community needs this work. Our hope is that White Work might heal and transform white participants while simultaneously investing in Black leadership in Berkeley.

Our collective systems and structures need to be completely dismantled and reorganized for a just, equitable and sustainable future for all our children. In order to engage in this work, to show up sturdy, spacious and open, able to listen to, follow, support our BIPOC partners, able to speak truth to power and remain on course toward equity, we need to dissolve white supremacy from within ourselves. White Work provides such a space. 

What about the outer work of racial justice?

At White Work, we believe that the work of racial justice requires inner and outer work. We think of it as the inhale and the exhale for justice, equity and inclusion.

Our goal is to spend the Fall 2021 engaged in this inner White Work in order to build our capacity so that we can each increasingly embody the change we wish to see in the outer world. Opportunities for collective outer work–in partnership with local BIPOC leaders–will be explored in January and beyond.

Where Can I Sign Up?

Just go here, click on this link to the sign up page.

Culture eats policy for breakfast.

—Rev. Ben McBride