Sunday, March 21, 2010

Unmasking Whiteness - A Summer Institute by AWARE-LA

I'd appreciate your help getting the word out about this event.

AWARE-LA is offering its workshop series on building white anti-racist practice and community in an intensive, 4-day institute
for white people.

The institute invites white people to deepen their self-awareness and build community with other white people taking
up work for racial justice. Through personal reflection, small and large group dialogue, and experiential activities, this
institute offers an opportunity for white people to explore the meanings of whiteness, white privilege and multiple
identities, how to resolve guilt and shame, systemic white supremacy, and building an anti-racist identity and practice.

WHEN: July 22-25, 2010
WHERE: Los Angeles, CA
COST: $200 if registered before April 30th, $225 after April 30

What does this institute involve?

This four-day experiential workshop series invites participants to explore seven distinct topic areas:

The Meanings of Whiteness - Many people struggle to grasp what it means to be white in today’s society. How do
we create a positive, anti-racist white identity? An important issue is figuring out how we relate to dominant white culture while simultaneously supporting the movement toward a culture dedicated to social justice.

Historical Assimilation into Whiteness - Becoming “white” didn’t happen the same way for all European groups. How did the experiences differ? What impact does this have on different groups? Understanding how our assimilation history affects how we view race can help us when in conversations in diverse groups.

The White Supremacist System - Racism is not just about individuals’ ideas and actions. White supremacy is a systematic way of organizing the world that privileges one group at the expense of others. How do we participate in the maintenance of this system unknowingly? What can we do about it once we become aware?

White Privilege - U.S. society does not usually ask white people to explore how race affects our lives. Without honestly grappling with this question we often fail to recognize the various ways we receive social and economic benefits based on being seen as part of the white group.

The Many Aspects of Ourselves - We are more than just our race, our class, our gender, our sexual orientation, etc. We are an interrelated mix of our multiple social identities and each has an impact on how we experience the world. An essential step, however, is attending to both the areas where we may feel oppressed and also staying responsible for areas where we experience privilege.

Guilt and Shame - Two common emotions that arise when we learn about our history of racism and privilege are guilt and shame. These emotions often lead to paralysis and an inability to effectively participate in movements for change. Working through negative emotions is essential to building a solid anti-racist practice.

Building an Anti-Racist Practice - A key to creating a viable and sustainable anti-racist practice is forming a community that is similarly striving. Within a community we can develop and practice skills, hone our analysis, be challenged, and find support. This institute invites the creation of this type of community.

Who should come to this institute? All self-identifying white people interested in contributing positively to race relations in the U.S. - This experience is essential for educators, students, school administrators, social workers, community organizers, social justice activists, and all those invested in building equitable multiracial communities.

How will participants benefit? Increased knowledge and skills to: recognize racism in interpersonal interactions and institutions, engage in constructive dialogue about race, build an anti-racist community, and build confidence to disrupt racism in action.

Email if you'd like to register.


  1. Dear Shelly,
    Hello, there, Shelly! I will for sure spread the word here where I live in Iowa City, Iowa about The Unmasking Whiteness Institute among the white antiracist people I am joyfully friends with here. I have been and will for always continue to spread the good word about you and your wonderful work with your books, the blog, your superb website, and to spread the good news about AWARE-LA and all of the progressive work you and the others do! I have been sharing with my special white women sisterfriends who I love and care about so much and who I am very close to all about you, the great work that you do with such care, sincerity, and dedication, and about your excellent books, blog, website, and about AWARE-LA. I think it is very vitally important and necessary for white people to come together among themselves to heal and to grow as they find themselves, and to develop their positive Radical White Identity with their Radical White Community. In this way, white people can heal from racism and process it, and gradually begin their lifetime recovery and process as they dislodge white privilege, and dismantle and end racism and racist inequities. Being in a group among white community can help white people take apart learned racism and to help, challenge, encourage, and gently confront each other toward a remarkable white antiracist identity, and to reach out to and to form bonds, friendships, and alliances with people of color as they coalesce and ally themselves with people of color in working toward racial justice. I truly do understand how important it is for white people to come together among themselves in order to heal and to process all of these steps to not only build community with people of color, but to form their self-esteem with a healthy white identity, and to form community and healing with their white community. In these white causcuses, I can see very well how white people can learn how to witness among themselves and to other white people in their lives.

    I have a much increased faith, hope, and optimism by all the work you do, Shelly, as a true sister and a white antiracist woman, and by all of our other marvelous white antiracist folks and the great and sensitive work all of you do so well! This means so, so much to me as the black/African-American woman who I am, and helps me to have faith in the present and the future that we all in unity as people of color along with white people can build, create, and share beloved community, and together make our country in the United States, and the world a much more improved and better place. Shelly, I thank you so, so much for all that you have so wisely done with such wisdom, and I very wholeheartedly appreciate all of the witnessing whiteness you and our other white antiracist folks do toward enacting and moving toward racial justice and healing! I am so impressed by you and our other white antiracist people! Blessings so, so much to you for always, Shelly!

    Sincerely always,

    Sherry Gordon

  2. Dear Shelly,
    Hello, there, again, Shelly! I meant to also say that you made a great point about how becoming "white" did not develop the exact same way for all people of white European ancestry. I have learned over all of these years in my own recovery as a black/African-American woman healing from my racial hurts from racism and discrimination I have experienced and in forming my healthy and vibrant identity as a black/African-American woman that white people are individuals with a variety of different European heritages, ethnicities, and ancestries. I know that white people are not one great big monolith, and are not generic and all the same as white people, but are separate people as individuals with a unique variety in terms of history, heritages, ethnicities, and ancestries from a wide variety of European countries and areas. I know and think it is so important to see all white people as separate individuals, and not as one great big stereotype! I support and validate white people in their quest to find themselves and who they are in finding and developing self-esteem in forming their identity, and in reclaiming their lost heritages and unique ancestries and ethnicities which were lost in the assimilation process for white folks.

    Also, you as usual as always made a great point about the many aspects of white folks with multiple identities. I am a feminist. I can see so, so well how white women and white girls are also oppressed via sexism and sexist discrimination against them, and by sexual terrorism and sexual harassment. I see how white lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are oppressed via heterosexism, homophobia, harassment, and discrimination, and how white transgender people are discriminated against via transphobia,genderism, and discrimination. I know very well how white physically and otherwise disabled people as well as those who have disabilities via mental illness are oppressed and face ableism and discrimination. It is very apparent and real to me how working class and poor white people are victimized and discriminated against by classism and elitism. I see so well how white people can be oppressed also in all sorts of other ways, too!

    I again must say that I appreciate you so, so much, Shelly, as the true sister and amazing and remarkable white antiracist woman who you are with all the good you do with this very necessary and vital work of witnessing whiteness! Thank-you, thank-you so, so much, Shelly! Blessings so, so much to you for always, Shelly!

    Sincerely always,

    Sherry Gordon

  3. Just stumbled upo0pn your site on FB. I'm an activist working in the area of criminal justice reform (reentry) and was delighted to see your work. I hope to stop by more often. If you're ever thinking of doing anything in the East Coast (NYC), let me know, I'll try to get the word out.

    -- Eddie