In our recent September dialogue, we set out to explore concepts and practices of disability justice in our lives and movements. Below are the resources we compiled for the dialogue, some background, and the questions we explored. Notes from the dialogue can be found here.
The term disability justice was coined out of conversations between disabled queer women of color activists in 2005, including Patty Berne of Sins Invalid, seeking to challenge radical and progressive movements to more fully address ableism (see ‘Principles of Disability Justice’ in the resources section below for more info). Disability justice recognizes the intersecting legacies of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, gendered oppression and ableism in understanding how peoples’ bodies and minds are labelled ‘deviant’, ‘unproductive’, ‘disposable’ and/or ‘invalid’. In our dialogue, we will explore ways to challenge the interlocking systems of ableism, white supremacy and gendered oppression.… Read more
“The killings became more and more frenzied with days of Thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre.” (Susan Bates)
We often think of Thanksgiving as a time of family, football, giving thanks and gorging. I used to be of this mindset until learning more about some of the actual roots of this holiday. What I learned was that Thanksgiving has little to do with an amicable meal shared between the Pilgrims and Indians. While there is a documented meal shared at one point, and this is often what is referenced, the “National Holiday” was originally a marker of the celebrations of the massive genocide of Indigenous peoples across the Eastern coast of the US. Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin gives an amazing run down of many of these “origin story” myths we were taught about our country and some of the actual truths that they mask.… Read more
In our June dialogue, we convened white female and gender minority racial justice activists to examine personal and political histories of immigration to this country, and to generate steps for action, engagement and dialogue with other white people towards contributing to the inspiring momentum of the immigrant justice movement. It was fantastic for the White Noise Collective to be joined by special guest, organizer and facilitator extraordinaire Dara Silverman of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), who led us through a three-part process of familial exploration on a timeline of US history, expression of values and stakes white people may have in immigrant justice, and concrete practice with role playing conversations. SURJ is a national network of white people committed to racial justice, originally organized in 2009 to begin to explore ways that white individuals could step up to the challenge of confronting the contemporary manifestations of racism across the US.… Read more
In our September dialogue, we focused on the topic “Body as battleground.” Obviously, with the current political attack on womens’ reproductive rights, the conservative media’s sexist slandering, and the general ways that patriarchy interferes on every angle of our daily lives, there was a lot to talk about.
We delved into a slew of intense and interesting themes, but for me it was the reading I did in preparation for the night that really floored me. I have been reading a book called Caliban & the Witch for the past few months. It’s been recommended to me countless times and finally a copy landed in my house and beckoned to me. It focuses on the history of capitalism (or, as the book refers to it – primitive accumulation) through the context of the working class and the effects of the development of capitalism on the experience of women (particularly in Europe).… Read more
Everyone is invited to our May Dialogue, which will be a Community Reportback from this year’s White Privilege Conference!
The White Privilege Conference is an annual event that brings together about 1500 folks to examine the system of white supremacy upon which every aspect of the US culture is built and to develop the tools, support and strategies needed to dismantle it. This year the conference happened March 28-31 in Albuquerque, NM and the theme was “Intersectionality.” Levana and Zara presented a workshop there on “Exploring the Intersection of Whiteness and Femaleness.” Beja was also there as a first year participant. And there were many other presenters and participants from around the Bay Area.
Our hope is to create an informal space for WPC presenters and participants to reflect on our experiences of this year’s conference and to share highlights, insights, take-aways, constructive critiques, struggles, potentials for the future and to distill our experiences for folks who would have wanted to be there but couldn’t.
At our second White Noise monthly dialogue, we delved into the topic of ancestry with the intention of looking at how the histories/legacies of our (white/female) ancestors connect to the larger discussion we’ve begun. We began by checking in with affirmations about ourselves and about white women – something we committed previously to doing because we recognize how easy it can be to go instantly into denigrating ourselves and feeling over-responsible for all the problems of the world (something we, as women, have been very effectively trained to do — see the previous blog post for more on this subject).
After this round, we read an excerpt from an article (Indians’R’Us) by Ward Churchill that spoke about the need for white folks to reclaim and learn our own heritages (he states “we are all indigenous somewhere”) in order to more effectively combat larger waves of colonization. It spoke to the fact that the white-washing of our personal and cultural histories leaves us more prone to steal traditions from the indigenous folks that remain on the lands we occupy and continue to perpetrate cultural genocide.… Read more
Here are the themes that the folks who came to our last dialogue said that they want to explore in future dialogues. Through the help of Beja, they miraculously transformed from notes on poster paper into typed clusters in this blog for people to comment on to collectively figure out what to talk about next (April 12). Let’s see if this works. They are numbered and named for ease of commenting: Here’s a suggested process:
1. Read them over
2. Pick a cluster or a topic within a cluster that you think would be a good place to start. You can also propose restructuring the clusters.
3. Post it in a comment, along with any other thoughts about any of them, or the structural ideas at the bottom.
how do we claim ancestry? (white privilege, healing the burden, understanding the choices our ancestors made)
current deep north and addressing the ways we currently/tacitly benefit from global slavery
tendency for forgiveness of others but not ourselves
we are generations into colonization
radical/proud identity/need to know your roots
Founding itself upon love, humility, faith, dialogue becomes a horizontal relationship. – Paulo Freire
Last week we had our first initiatory anti-racist white women dialogue – and it was…..
freakin awesome. I’m kinda blown-away at how much thoughtfulness everyone brought. It was one of those rare and exciting spaces that felt like we were naming and framing things that we mostly think about in private, and through dialogue we could build on our common experiences to see a bigger, systemic picture of ourselves emerge.
“Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men and women transform the world. To exist, humanly, is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in its turn reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.” – Paulo Freire
In the next blog post, check out some of the themes we named – to explore in future dialogues.… Read more