reflections for my fellow white people: shedding whiteness practice

Let me start by saying that I don’t consider myself an expert in anything related to race or class issues. I’m just a white straight cis able-bodied woman, raised in an upper-middle class highly educated family. I mention those “labels” because each of those labels gives me access to power in the USA. What I say on this blog has not been vetted by anyone but me. Take everything I say with a grain of salt, and look to the real experts (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who are invested in systems change) for your guidance. Most of what I share is repeating what I’ve learned from them, what they’ve been telling us since forever.

All that said, I feel called to share with other white people things I’ve been learning along this journey toward collective liberation, while I continue learning from others (of all races) who are on a similar journey.

Recently I began participating in a program for “embodied social justice.” It’s quite intense both in time required and in the emotional/spiritual/intellectual challenge of it. I realized in these first few sessions that we white people put our feet in our mouth all the time and have no idea we’re doing it.

I feel like I’m straddling this space where I put my foot in my mouth (and by that I mean do something stupid or hurtful in relation to a Black, Latinx, or Indigenous person, or other people of color too, probably) a little less often but also I definitely keep doing it. Over and over again. But, with practice, I’ve been doing it less.

What is the “it” I’m talking about?

There are a whole bunch of ways people from my background interact with the world that come across to people from different backgrounds as harmful, oppressive, obnoxious, clueless, rude, and exhausting. I’ve learned a lot about this mostly from people who are Black and Latinx, but on twitter I’ve also learned from Indigenous people and other people of color, too. There are even a couple white people I’ve been learning from!

When I saw my fellow white people behaving in these exhausting ways — and I know they have NO idea, because I’ve been that person (and definitely am still that person at times!) — I thought about sharing on this blog some of the things I do to help myself do those things a little bit less. My goal is to be someone who lives in solidarity with all people, working together (as I said above) for collective liberation. Another goal is to help my fellow white people do less harm. To do this, I know I need to change my behaviors and learn from people who are farther along the path than I am.

I don’t want to make this post too long for Internet reading. I want this to serve as an introduction to other relatively short posts I’ll make about examples of the exhausting-harmful (there’s a range) behaviors people like me have and how I practice doing it differently.

There’s lots of self-talk involved. Lots of emotional work, and lots of practice. I’m going to post tidbits of examples as I think of them, and I will take those posts “shedding whiteness practice” if you are interested in reading them.

posts also will be linked here:

Active Shooter, Whiteness, and “The Talk”

Many white people I talk to about the roles we play in upholding white supremacy in the USA recall the ...

27 years of alcoholism recovery and my ongoing addiction to whiteness

Note: This post is about me as a white woman dealing with my racism, written mostly for readers who are ...

25 years ago tomorrow

Only July 1st in 1996 I celebrated the fact that I wasn't an alcoholic by drinking many, many vodka lemonades ...

shedding whiteness practice: the trauma of whiteness

[Note: This is a series of posts related to topics I've shared with other white people. Some are lessons I've learned ...

shedding whiteness practice: questioning my thoughts when faced with “that’s racist”

[Note: I'm very aware that the sweeping generalizations I'm making in this series of posts don't apply to everyone. We ...

shedding whiteness practice: being too friendly

This is the first in what I expect will be a series of posts about my practice of trying to ...

reflections for my fellow white people: shedding whiteness practice

Let me start by saying that I don't consider myself an expert in anything related to race or class issues ...