Overcoming resistance and fear
Sometimes resistance pops up when you all recommend my course on whiteness and anti-racism to a person you think could benefit. They may label my work on deconstructing whiteness and supporting white ally action as “radical” as a way to dismiss it. I get it. My approach diverts from popular diversity trainings that leave people with very little understanding of history, systemic racism, and what they can do to make authentic changes. On the whole, I think the resistance is based in fear of discomfort and fear of feeling connected to racism.
Our lizard brain protectors will work very hard to keep us running away from learning the truth about oppression. We have to pay close attention to the moments when we interpret a learning opportunity as a threat. That should be a major red flag to signal we need more honest interrogation into what drives those feelings. The good news is that we can work through the fears. We cannot control that the fears pop up, but we can decide to take action despite those fears. With all we may imagine is being asked of us (white people or any privileged person working on ally behavior), maybe we need to take a step back.
What is required for white allies to start (or further progress) their anti-racism?
My view is that there are 3 essential commitments that build the foundation for white anti-racism. Note these essentials are not a list of actions white allies should take. This is about white ally mindset and foundational commitments. Yes, some may trigger fear and a variety negative emotions. In my experience, naming the emotions that may hold us back is required before we can push through and get to the work. These statements are worded in first person so that you can recite them out loud, write them out in your own handwriting, or use any other process that helps you stay committed.
Note- for our community members who do not identify as white, feel free to read these as relevant to any form of privilege where you aim to do the work of an action-oriented ally.
3 commitments to white anti-racism:
In fact, these are the stated essentials that I ask each participate to make when they begin the white anti-racism course.
Are you ready to face your fears and do it anyway?
- What fears come up for you when you think about being vulnerable as an aspiring ally?
- What feelings come up when you think about taking a course that supports reflection on your own whiteness (or another privileged identity)?
- What can you do to work through any fears or emotions standing in your way? Talk to a friend, journal it out, meditate
- Do you trust yourself that you can handle discomfort for the sake of justice?
We are in this together
Learn more about the White Anti-Racism and Action course I created for (aspiring) white allies and my group coaching program for social justice academics called Choose Your Own Adventure. Drop your email to get social justice updates (resources, tips, and truth-telling).