Monday, February 1, 2010

Profit in anti-racism, and why the workshop series is free

The question arose the minute the Witnessing Whiteness Workshop Series was posted and people started receiving the announcement. Why are you giving it away? You should be charging for this!

Not everyone responds in this fashion. Friends in racial justice work are far more surprised than opposed. They recognize that all-too-often important resources are priced out of reach of many of the grassroots or community groups who would really like to use them.

For me it is largely a matter of wanting the resources to be used. I want people to really dig in to the ideas in the book and get as much out of the reading as possible. In an economy such as ours, starting with a relatively pricey book but then adding a really rich companion resource for no charge makes the book purchase a lot more rational.

Admittedly, if I were trying to make my living from this work, this approach would likely be more challenging. But, I work a full time job in addition to my anti-racism efforts. This allows me to make the choice more easily.

This is also not without context. There are many that rightly question how white people doing anti-racism benefit markedly from the work. How many of us are called to speak more often because of the very privilege that we're trying to dismantle? I think it happens a lot. I recognize it in the reasons people give when they call me to invite me to give a talk. We talk about it.

Let's be honest. For those who know me, they know I have a nice enough quality of life and I receive compensation when I travel to offer presentations. Making this workshop series accessible and free to anyone wishing to use it is simply the right thing to do. No self-righteousness involved. It just makes sense.

My only hope is that people don't imagine that the series is less valuable because they didn't need to pay for it. (You know, that does happen sometimes.) That is truly my deepest concern.


  1. Dear Shelly,
    Hello, there, Shelly! The Companion Workshop Series is definitely highly valuable, precious, and beneficial even without a cost involved with it, I for sure think so. How you have made this and your other resources available without cost just goes to show that you are our white antiracist heroine who is making a great sacrifice and effort, and who is a very productive and legitimate ally for me and all of us in witnessing whitenessing, and also as you heroicly fight for racial justice with great passion and all of your heart, Shelly! This means so, so much to me as a black/African-American woman who I am! You are doing such needed and vitally important outreach as you make these materials available without cost, which helps me so much, and also helps with grassroots and community efforts! I appreciate you and all that you do in these superb and efficient outreach efforts so much, Shelly! You are bringing your witnessing whitess with Radical White Identity, and your strong and dearly sincere quest to dismantle racism and challenge white privilege to the people, to all of the people, by making your fine and grand materials available to all at no cost, and I highly value that,and I thank you so, so much for your great heart and generosity in your efforts, Shelly!

    I have been telling my dearest white sisterfriends all about you and your marvelous and progressive 1st and 2nd Editions of Witnessing Whiteness, about the video in the earlier post, about all of your website and the blog,about the remarkable Companion Workshop Series and other materials and resources, and about AWARE-LA, and all of the great work which you valiantly do for the movement, Shelly! I am for sure for always spreading the good word about you and your diligent efforts, work, and resources!

    I thank-you so, so much with my great depths of appreciation for all that you do so wisely, Shelly! This reaches me as the black/African-American woman who I am, and means so very much! Blessings so, so much to you for always, Shelly!

    Sincerely always,

    Sherry Gordon

  2. 你怎麼能經過一片海,而忘記它的藍?.........................