Q: As a leader of an organization with a mission to serve and represent a community of color, how do I help white members of the group feel valued, yet also address their unease with their limitations of advancement and defensiveness anytime “white” is spoken in a negative context?
A: This question needs a book, not just a post! LOL
A few thoughts.
- White folks need to identify as white, those of us in leadership positions can model this. There are “black actors” “black bosses” “black authors” a “black president” etc. But we don’t identify the race of white folks. We need to recognize that we have a race as well.
- Teach, learn, and break down white supremacy. I know this sounds negative to many folks but if we recognize and discuss openly the privileges we receive from our white skin then we will be making movement towards a space where we can work to break down those privileges.
- Celebrate our differences. We all have a race, gender, socioeconomic class, etc. We should not be working towards sameness, we need to celebrate our cultures and traditions. I’m not talking about white pride (that stuff is messed up) I’m talking about learning our our heritage as well as other cultures.
- I talk about Bobbie Haro’s Cycle of Socialization and Cycle of Liberation all the time! I recommend that everyone looks at her work around identity and how we learn about who we are and who other people are. Brief outline of the cycle of liberation:
- Wake Up!
- Educate yourself and consciousness raising
- Reaching out
- Building community
- Organizing and refusing to collude
- Creating change in institutions and systems
- Continued engagement Taking care of self and others
- Finally, there are many ways that white folks can work with people of color towards collective liberation. We need to work alongside POC and listen. Chris Crass’ Towards a Collective Liberation is also a great book that focuses on organizations and how they can come alongside to work for liberation together.
I hope this helps. This does not cover all the ways we can work together for systemic change. Do you have thoughts? Comment below!