Themes & Notes from Monthly Dialogues


Though many of the themes from the monthly dialogues are represented in our blog posts, those posts rarely include all of what was discussed.  Find the notes here from each dialogue raw and uncut. We share them (with names omitted) in an effort to be  accountable and transparent to our larger community, accessible for those who are not able to attend, and saved as archive to return to and draw from.

The invitation we send out with a description of the dialogue themes and materials to check out beforehand are all included here.

November 2017: Climate Change, Environmental Racism and Responding to (Un)natural Disasters

Recent natural disasters of wind, water and fire have been brutally extreme in degree and frequency – weekly wakes of immeasurable devastation through communities, homes, ecosystems and lives. In times of severe crisis and long, slow recovery, how can we strengthen community responses and resilience? How can we simultaneously resist ways that corporate and governmental powers can exploit shock for development gain? When disasters strike close to home or at home, how can we connect our heartbreak and concern to more distant realities (made distant by geography and by racism) of communities who bear the brunt of ongoing unnatural disaster, toxic dumping and disproportionate public health impacts? How do we here in northern CA connect the pain of breathing this toxic air to nearby realities in Richmond and Bayview SF, where respiratory diseases are far higher than the average population? Knowing disasters will continue and increase in severity, what practices do we need to cultivate to open hearts, educate ourselves and others, take care of ourselves and others, and intervene into the racism of dirty energy business as usual?

Suggested resources:

October 2017: Building a Culture of Resistance to State Repression

In this time of increased surveillance and state repression of dissent, how can we prepare and protect ourselves, our communities, and our movements while maintaining and fortifying our resistance? What can we learn from historic precedents of state repression to inform how we act today? What patterns common to folks socialized as white and female/genderqueer/trans/queer may make us and our movements more vulnerable to state repression, and how we can interrupt these patterns?

Join us to explore principles and best practices for racial justice activists in the face of state repression.

Suggested readings/resources:

September 2017: Rising to the Moment: Reflecting and Growing for the Long Haul

The political landscape is shifting quickly now, and we want our September dialogue to reflect and hold space for this movement. From the recent white supremacist mobilizations to climate injustice to DACA, this is a brutal time, an extension of the ongoing violence targeting marginalized communities and the earth.
 
Amidst all these shifting forces, how do we stay centered and clear in our long term vision? How do we get precise with our actions, and stay connected? What pulls us away from trust and interdependence, and how do we grow our skills to move towards dignity for ourselves and our movements? How do we work with and understand patterns of fear, numbness or hopelessness? Some of us feel the tug of our privilege, how perhaps recent actions do not directly target us – how to then return again and again to our stakes in work for collective liberation?
 
In this dialogue, we will offer space for conversation and reflection. We will move through some embodied practices to explore hopelessness and hope using tools from Theatre of the Oppressed. Not sure about all that? Feel free to email us with questions.
Suggested readings:
 

August 2017: Examining Settler Colonialism  

In anticipation of the upcoming powerful panel discussion “Living on Ohlone Land” (see below for more details), this dialoguewill explore how structures of white supremacy and patriarchy contribute to settler colonialism in our lives and in the Bay Area.  How do our desires to feel rooted, grounded, and at home on stolen land impact our commitments to movements for indigenous sovereignty?  In what ways do we perpetuate and/or resist narratives of settler colonialism?  How are indigenous struggles connected to our other social and racial justice activism, organizing, paid and unpaid work?
 
Suggested Readings:

 

July 2017: “No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality” — a book group

Why do so many people with privilege end up making things worse when they try to help? How can a person with privilege challenge systems of injustice without playing into the savior mentality? In what ways does our culture create and celebrate saviors, and how does this infiltrate our movements? These are questions posed in this book, which we will dive into in this dialogue. We will also try to go further than the content of the book and add some perspective on the ways gendered dynamics play into these questions.

Suggested readings:
  • You can still get a copy of the book and read some or all of it! And if a whole book is a tall order right now, we recommend focusing on the first chapter. This chapter covers a lot of ground, whereas other chapters in the book are more of a deep dive into specific examples of both saviorism and grassroots challenges, looking at everything from charity to disaster masculinity, and from Teach for America to anti-trafficking campaigns.
  • If the book is not in your future, check out this Truthout interview about it, or email us if you would like us to scan and send you the first chapter.

June 2017: White Feminists and the Use of Intersectionality: Critiques from Feminists of Color

In this movement moment, the term intersectionality has entered increasingly into popular consciousness. In this dialogue, we offer a space to reflect on the histories and ongoing formation of the term, centering Black feminist thought. As a collective focused around questions and complexities we often talk about as ‘the intersections of gendered oppression and whiteprivilege’, we want to investigate our own uses of intersectionality, paying attention to possibilities of co-optation and appropriation.

Some key questions:

In this moment of increasing politicization, with many white feminists utilizing intersectionality as a framework, how can we do justice to it’s origins, specifically to center Black feminist liberation struggles? How do we articulate our individual stakes in work for collective liberation while resisting co-optation and appropriation?  What common and historical patterns of whitefeminism should we make conscious and disrupt — now and for the long haul? How do we engage the people in our lives coming into consciousness in this movement moment towards work for collective liberation?

About the term intersectionality (more details in the readings and video below):

Feminist and Critical Legal Scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined intersectionality as a framework in Black feminist thought, naming the ways ‘the subordination of Black women’ based in white supremacy and sexism compound one another. Black feminist Scholar Patricia Hill Collins has gone on to describe intersectionality as a tool to name ‘interlocking oppressions’. Please check out below for so much more richness around these ideas!

Please check out these articles before the dialogue to support our discussion:

May 2017 WNC, SF Bay Area SURJ, and STAND (formerly White Men in the Struggle) – focused on discussing “Ethics of All-White Racial Justice Spaces.”

We know that part of overcoming white supremacy is doing away with binaries and the right/wrong dichotomy. And, still, it can feel challenging to do this and to know how to stay accountable to what can sometimes feel like opposing guidelines from the people of color and frontline movement organizers that we try to center as white- or light-skinned activists fighting for racial justice. In this dialogue, we will dive into the messages to highlight where there are and are not contradictions between the call-outs for and the critiques of all-white organizing spaces and what to do with them. How do we hold these dynamic and seemingly contradictory viewpoints? How do we ensure we are doing our own work with each other so that we do not have to rely on people of color to educate us at every turn? How do we stay in the struggle, even when it feels like there is a call out around every corner and we know we are engaging in endless mistakes on the way to liberation? How do we reconcile with the influences of gender, entitlement, fragility and other dynamics that affect these questions?

April 2017: Beyond the Moment:​ Uniting Movements from April 4th to May Day (BTM) (There are no notes, as this dialogue was canceled due to lack of participants.)

Convened by the Movement for Black Lives, Beyond the Moment is putting out a clear call that this dialogue will engage:

  • the “giant triplets” of racism, materialism/capitalism, and militarism;
  • the link between racial justice and economic justice;
  • political educatio​n surfacing an intersectional lens from MLK’s framing to now, sanctuary for all, include anti-blackness, include non-immigrants and non-refugees, include indigenous rights. We also support the ongoing struggle for LGBTQIA rights and economic justice for workers, the unemployed and the poor;
  • mass mobilizations as an agitation point to move toward further action.

Reading:

March 2017 Dialogue: Cross-Class Organizing in the Era of Trump

There is so much to dig into around the role of class, race, and gender in the construction of our current political moment.  Join us as we begin to ask big questions about class oppression and its role in current and historic social justice movements.
What does it mean to engage in cross-class organizing in the Bay Area?  How can our movements better support working class leadership in these times, and what are the roles for white working class leadership in dismantling racial, class, and gendered oppression? How might we be re-creating classism and class oppression in our social justice organizing?  What can we learn from historical examples of whiteworking class organizing?  How do our own class and gendered upbringings influence our perspective, skills, and position in this present moment?
Resources abound on this rich and expansive topic.  Here are just a few to pique your curiosity:

February 2017 Dialogue: Building an Intersectional Feminist Movement beyond the Pink Hat

In this movement moment when millions of white cis-women are becoming mobilized and radicalized in opposition to Trump, how can we push the movement to organize beyond white middle class cis-women issues and towards racial justice? What common and historical patterns of white feminism should we make conscious and disrupt — now and for the long haul? As a collective, we have particularly investigated how “white womanhood” is used to justify systems and patterns of harm especially against POC, while also holding space for our queer and TGNC experiences in that conversation. How do we make space for complicated relationships to one-dimensional narratives of “womanhood” in ways that still promote accountability? And, conversely, how do we encourage folks on the cis-gender female end of the spectrum to actually investigate their conditioning into their gender roles as a way to support them in beginning to understand and subvert these dominant practices?  

Readings:
(Note: this list of readings focuses on the women’s march as a recent event that offers larger patterns and learnings, but our discussion will be much broader than this event alone.)

January 2017 Dialogue: Challenges, Resistances, and Mutual Aid in a Time of Fascism

Here we are at the start of unpresidented 2017, after the largest inaugural protest in US history, joined by marches around the world. Community organizing and outreach is happening in every state as people prepare for the worst, brace for scary realities on the horizon and work to keep them at bay. This is also a time when many are humbly realizing how much we have to learn from communities around the world about what it means to live resisting fascism.

Let’s come together to feel deeply into this moment, and share fears, concerns, insights, hopes, inspirations and strategies for collective resistance.

A few pieces for thought:
November 2016 Dialogue:  ISSUES. THE U.S. HAS THEM.
Broadcast relentlessly to the entire world.

After this long, long campaign period, let’s gather as citizens of empire to look back and look forward to how we may strategize for the future with President ___________.

All the media we have consumed, difficult conversations we’ve engaged, actions and rallies, roller coasters of hope and horror – this dialogue is an opportunity to pause, feel and think together in this national moment.


Trump’s campaign stoked an immense underbelly of racism, sexism and Islamophobia – whether or not he is elected, this is not dissipating anytime soon. 
Hillary may make tremendous US herstory. How do we hold the vital stances on Supreme Court nominations, reproductive rights and progressive issues, alongside the realities of feminist imperialism and massive expansion of “slow violence” neoliberal policies? How do we challenge predictable misogynist backlash, and challenge her war strategies?
This is a valuable time to sit in all of this dissonance, and help process national emotions.

Undoubtedly you have read and watched too much – but here’s a couple articles for thought:
 
 October 2016 Dialogue: Haunting and the Ghosts of Colonialism
We originally designed this dialogue to be a reading/book group for the book Ghostly Matters. However, after we started to dig in, we decided to shift away from a specific focus on the book (actually a very challenging read) to a wider discussion about the ways US culture (and beyond) is haunted by the ghosts of slavery and colonialism (which to us includes racism, capitalism, sexism, ablism..). How do we, those alive today, interact with and reckon with the violence, the terror, the loss, the repressions, and the shadows of the past as we weave together an understanding of our present and our future? In what ways is it liberative and healing to reckon with the ghosts of the past and in what ways are ghosts used by abusive systems of power to control us through fear of becoming like the ghosts? As our nights get longer, gather with us to discuss what we can learn from our social obsession with hauntings, zombies, witches, and the unacknowledged dark side.
September 2016 Dialogue: Towards Disability Justice

From Aurora Levins Morales’ book Kindling:

“There is no neutral body from which our bodies deviate. Society has written deep into each strand of tissue of every living person on earth. What it writes into the heart muscles of five star generals is distinct from what it writes in the pancreatic tissue and intestinal tracts of Black single mothers in Detroit, of Mexicana migrants in Fresno, but no body stands outside the consequences of injustice and inequality…What our bodies require in order to thrive, is what the world requires. If there is a map to get there, it can be found in the atlas of our skin and bone and blood, in the tracks of neurotransmitters and antibodies.”

Our September dialogue explores concepts and practices of disability justice in our lives and movements. 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.
Some guiding questions: How do we challenge the racialized and gendered nature of ‘productivism’, in which a person or community’s worth is based on their perceived productivity? How are gendered expectations of productivity and desirability used to uphold white supremacy and colonialism? How do we create and build spaces and communities centering disability justice? How are gendered norms about bodies, including body size, used to maintain white supremacy and what legacies of resistance do we draw from? How do we connect radical mental health and histories of gendered and racialized violence? How do we connect to our bodies and minds as sites of trauma and resistance across place and time? How do we practice and embody self-care and community-care towards disability justice, resisting cultural appropriation?
Some suggested resources for this dialogue:
Audio / Video resources:
– Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha Sins Invalid Performance* trigger warning sexual violence
– Notes on Cure, Disability and Natural Worlds, Eli Clare * check out the first video, and for his first poem starting at minute 10:05, trigger warning sexual violence

August 2016 Dialogue: Race, Gender and Workplace Power

Guided by many motivating questions, our August dialogue will explore our struggles for racial and gender justice in our workplace settings.  Whether we work at an explicit racial justice organization, a largely white, “a-racial” institution, or somewhere in between, we want to use this dialogue to examine the unique challenge of managing workplace relationships and institutional power while also struggling for workplace justice.
What roles do we hold in our workplaces, and what barriers do we face to dismantling white supremacy and patriarchy within our institutions?  How do the real risks of losing or compromising our employment influence the ways we bring racial and gender justice into our workplaces?  How do we maintain boundaries and take care of our personal needs while also making individual efforts to compensate for the impacts of institutional white supremacy?  How do we complicate interpersonal conflict in our workplace to name race when it is in operation without ignoring other forms of power that are also impacting a dynamic?
This dialogue will be built largely from our lived experiences in the workplace.  Some additional resources that may be useful include Everday Feminist’s You Call it Professionalism? I Call it Oppression in a Three Piece Suit and Feministing’s Women and Minorities are Punished for Promoting Workplace Diversity.

July 2016 Dialogue: Urban Shield, Police Militarization and Community Resistance

This dialogue will include a short presentation and information session to learn about Urban Shield, local efforts to stop it, and the roles of white people to reduce police militarization in our communities. We will have time to reflect and discuss how this connects to broader issues of community resistance to increased policing and militarization. The withdrawal from participation in SF Pride by Organizational Grand Marshal Black Lives Matter, Grand Marshal Janetta Johnson and Heritage Awardee St. James Infirmary, in response to increased policing of Civic Center, brought the fundamental themes of security, vulnerability, community consultation, and police violence against LGBTQ communities of color, to the center of concern.
Urban Shield is a weapons expo and war-like police training that brings together law enforcement agencies from across the country and world to learn how to better repress, criminalize, and militarize working class communities and communities of color. UrbanShield is a key player in creating militarized emergency response systems that make police the first responders to everything from climate disasters to protests.

Suggested readings:

June 2016 Dialogue: Intergenerational Feminism

The waves of feminism have opened the door to a contemporary dialogue of what it means to simultaneously challenge patriarchy, heterosexism, racism, and other forms of oppression. From call-outs of “white feminism” to growing awareness of intersectionality, how can we hold these conversations in a way that invites intergenerational perspectives? How can we engage feminism in a way that honors the struggles that got us where we are today but also acknowledges the disagreements that surround who should be centered in feminism and who is excluded? How do we bring in discussions of class, capitalism, corporatizing, online activism, and shifting relationships to gender and language?

This dialogue is being created through an intergenerational exchange, and thus we hope to attract a variety of ages and viewpoints. We know that everyone has different relationships to feminism, and that even generationally, these relationships are not monolithic, so our hope is that there will be both inter- and intra-generational discussion.

Suggested readings:

May 2016 Dialogue: The Problem with Work

Join the White Noise Collective in our first ever reading group.  At this dialogue we will dive deep into intersectional Marxist feminist Kathi Weeks’ groundbreaking book “The Problem with Work.”  If you are unable to read the text, you are still welcome to join us in dialogue as we examine our own relationships towork, problematize the ideas of “work” and “labor”, and critique some of the feminist responses to gendered inequality at work.  We’ll also dream big about what Weeks calls “post-work politics”, and ask ourselves what it means for our movement and our lives to have utopian visions of a world beyond work.

You may also be interested in this recent interview with Kathi Weeks on KPFA.

April 2016: Forging an Aspirational ‘White’ Identity: Reckoning with Past, Present and Future

As long as you think you’re white, you’re irrelevant
…And have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white. —James Baldwin

Whiteness was forged in the fires of white supremacy, the two have never been separate. Yet a generation of white and light-skinned anti-racists are faced with the challenge of both identifying as white in order to rightfully own white privilege, while simultaneously unmooring from the whitewashed ‘white’ identity of past and present. In this dialogue we want to take up the beginnings of that challenge. If the road backwards to reclaim our own ancestors has been washed out by generations of colonization, what would it look like, what would it feel like, to seed a new aspirational identity for people who identify as white or light skinned? If ‘white’ people are to heed the call in finally reckoning with the crisis of confronting and then defining themselves/ourselves, how do they/we usher in that new era in a way that reckons with history and with current reality, in all that is hopeful and dire, in order to become people with a soul, intact?

Here are some articles to frame this conversation:

March 2016: Racism and Sexism in Social Media

Oh, social media. Love it, hate it, avoid it, deconstruct it, but it’s still there and as powerful a tool and as big a distraction as ever. How do we handle it? This month, we want to invite a conversation exploring racism, sexism, and the ways they show up in social media. From debate over “toxic twitter wars” and the trolling and outright hate that can make it terrifying at times to engage with social media, to the call out culture and concerns over “violent solidarity,” let’s gather and see where the night takes us.

If you want some ideas or context, check out these articles:

February 2016: Islamophobia and Militarism

Given the profound importance and particular challenges of entering into difficult conversations on Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, we are planning to offer a dialogue that will be combined with aspects of our recent workshop. This will include a short presentation on key dimensions of how anti-Muslim racism functions, and will be an opportunity to try out a range of surfacing, scanning, and skill-building strategies in challenging Islamophobic narratives.
For reading on Islamophobia before we meet if you have the time, we suggest looking at Paul Kivel’s excellent article in his recent newsletter.

January 2016: Ally Theater

In our first dialogue of 2016, WNC will be discussing the complex dynamics of Ally Theater, as described by Black Girl Dangerous bloggers Princess Harmony Rodriguez and Mia McKenzie, asking when do our attempts at allyship become on display in public forums, and how does this impact the nature of our allyship?
For inspiration and an exploration of the concepts of Ally Theater, check out Princess Harmony Rodriguez’s Caitlin Jenner, Social Media, and Violent Solidarity as well as Mia McKenzie’s How to Tell the Difference Between Real Solidarity and Ally Theater.

November 2015: Ancestors, Ghosts, Spirituality

As the nights get longer, let’s explore our connections to those who have come before and illuminate our life-paths and life-work. What and who lights up our commitments to social justice, our capacities for resilience, deep reflection and inspiration? How do spiritual dimensions live in our imaginations, dreams, struggles and everyday practices?

As an offering, here is the partial “role models” page from our site.

October 2015: Enclosures: Reclaiming our bodies, imaginations and the commons

In this dialogue we will explore enclosures and how they manifest in our lives, our bodies and the cities we live in.  We will consider many types of enclosures, including historical and present-day enclosures of physical land and common space, as well as mental and emotional enclosures of our creativity and collective imagination.

 Some questions we might explore in dialogue:

  • How do we  think/feel about the commons and enclosures in our daily life?
  • Where do we see the boundaries of the enclosures and how they function? How are they gendered and raced?
  • How can we re-create common spaces and ways of living in urban centers?
  • How can we nurture the act of commoning?
  • What values could help us re-claim our physical, psychological and imaginative selves from the enclosures and into common existence?
A short definition of the Commons found in the Beautiful Trouble Toolbox
Some Principles of the Commons [by Peter Linebaugh
Crisis of Imagination, Crisis of Power [explores the enclosure of imagination] by Max Haiven
Reflection on Caliban and the Witch [summarizes how the rise of capitalism and massive enclosures of the commons is tied to the expropriation of women and their resistance]

September 2015: #BLM: A Hundred Ways to Show Up

For the theme of this dialogue, we will discuss the Black Lives Matter movement. Specifically, we want to make space to discuss the varied ways we are each showing up – let’s talk about everything we’re doing, from integrating BLM material into curriculum to pushing policy change, from confronting our internalized white superiority to doorknocking in our neighborhoods, from conversations across difference to marching and locking down during direct action.
Where are we feeling change, hope, and success? Where are we feeling barriers? How are we responding to challenges (including All Lives Matter rhetoric and other waves of conservative backlash)? And how are we navigating and adapting to a constantly evolving movement landscape and set of expectations of us a white people?

 

June 2015: Hope and Hopelessness.

In this dialogue we will explore how hope and hopelessness manifest in our struggles for racial justice.  Where do our feelings of hope and hopelessness come from?  When do they show up, and when do they feel most strong?  How does hopelessness create barriers for engaging in long-term racial justice organizing, and how can we cultivate hope even in our lowest moments?
While this dialogue will focus largely on our own personal experiences with feelings of hope and hopelessness in our daily lives, interpersonal relationships, and movement organizing, we thought these readings might help stimulate some conversations about the role of both hope and hopelessness in activism and in maintaining systems of power and oppression.  Please take that which serves you and leave that which does not.

 

May 2015: Internalized Worthlessness, Radical Self Love and how to not Throw Each Other Under the Bus

In this dialogue we will explore the internalized feelings we may have around our white identity, specifically looking at senses of shame, worthlessness, harmfulness,  awkwardness, etc alone, together or in mixed race spaces. How do we let go of the binary between being the good or bad white person? How do we tell the difference between discomfort that comes from sitting with our white privileges and self-hate for our white identity? What are the pathways to radical self-love that can better serve us and anti-racist movements? Finally we will explore how we may externalize these feelings in tearing down other white anti-racists.

Check out some of the readings below:

March 2015: Safety and (Dis)comfort

In February, we looked at more external issues related to safety, especially the concepts of violence vs nonviolence, movement tactics, and racialized and gendered expectations as they relate to state violence/protection. 
In March, we turn our attention to our internal beliefs about safety and particularly to notions about safety “as the absence of discomfort” that can happen at the intersection of white (or passing) privilege and gender(ed) oppression. How does this socialization affect what we expect in order to feel safe? How does it shape, and sometimes race and gender, safer spaces? How might it perpetuate institutionalized white supremacy? What does it mean to learn to be uncomfortable? What does it actually mean to be unsafe?

February 2015: Violence and Safety

The past few months have been full of excitement with the building power of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to systematic police brutality and murder of black and brown people.  In response, the media, along with individuals and activists alike, are questioning the strategy and tactics of the emergent street mobilizations and organized responses.  Throughout this analysis are various opinions about the meaning, role, and position of “violence” in this movement movement.  In this WNC Dialogue, we will explore the meaning of violence and safety, especially through the lenses of white privilege and gendered oppression.  Throughout this movement, and more broadly in our society, we will ask what is considered violent and what is considered safe?  For whom is safety a “right” to be protected by institutional forces, and for whom is it a “privilege” to be earned?

To ground this dialogue, we offer the following readings as prompts for our discussion:

And if you want to dig even deeper, I’ve attached a longer reading is a powerful and important examination of police and state violence (Probing the Epidemic of Police Murders by Steve Martinot in Socialism and Democracy).

January 2015: Dialogue for organizers & movement workers

While we will continue our community dialogues, which include monthly themes, more active facilitation and which serve as an open, educational and exploratory space for folks with a wide range of experience facing issues of racism, sexism and movement work, in 2015 we seek to develop a new container that nourishes and challenges us not just as individuals but as racial justice movement activists/organizers. This space will not be for action planning or organizing. It will be specifically geared to support us in deeply examining the ways our socialization as both white and as female (whether or not we currently identify this way) is currently impacting our movement work and relationships.

December 2014: Difficult Conversations from Ferguson to Palestine

After our first Difficult Conversations dialogue a few years back, we decided to make it an annual tradition, to support each other in a little practice and role playing before many of us head back to families and communities of origin for the holiday season. This year, we are challenging ourselves to think about how to talk about some big things with those who may think and believe in vastly different ways about police violence, occupation and racism.
Check out these articles to get the conversation started:

November 2014: Relationship to Land

Moving from the “horrors of October” to those of November, we will take this time together to examine national mythologies that continue to justify colonization. We will also question our relationships to land, here in the Bay Area, California and beyond. What histories shape the present? How do patterns of displacement repeat at home? What are ways we can support each other to intervene into this holiday, which some are calling to be renamed as a national day of mourning?

Suggested reading:

October 2014: Liberate Halloween action-crafting

September 2014: Cultural Appropriation of Yoga and Buddhist Traditions

While cultural appropriation was a term originally used in response to the cultural theft of Native traditions that was happening in the (land called) US as part of settler colonialism, the term is increasingly being applied to any instance of a dominant group (usually white, western) practicing, wearing or profiting off of the traditions of a more marginalized or exploited cultural group. We’d like to ask ourselves: How is the practice of yoga and Buddhism by members of dominant white/western culture a form of cultural appropriation? What are the impacts of practicing these traditions? In what ways might the practice of these traditions by people from outside of the cultures in which the traditions originate obscure or decontextualize them? How have imperialism, capitalism, racism and sexism shaped these practices and our decisions to engage with them?
Please take a look at one or all of these readings (or choose another one from our resource section) to start circulating our minds around some of the possible things to discuss:

July 2014: Visioning the future

In our next dialogue coming up July 23rd, we are excited to continue and evolve the discussion from June (But you are welcome to come if you were not at that dialogue!) that looked at our visions for the abolition of racism, white supremacy, sexism, and heterosexism, by looking next at WHO is visioning the world into being. As artists, writers, activists, movie directors, narrative and meme spreaders, designers and communications professionals share potential future visions that have a powerful impact on what futures are created, we want to ask, who are these people? How has their imaginations been enclosed by capitalism or mediated by white privilege and gender oppression? When we state and live towards our visions – how does internalized oppression and privilege shape those visions? What world could we create if we were “unbound”? What if we listened to and acted on the visions of marginalized and frontline communities instead of our own?

Sound interesting to you? Here are some readings to get you inspired and maybe angry in preparation for our dialogue:  A Vision of the Future from those likely to invent it, contrasted with Zapatista visions of the future. At the recent Allied Media Conference that some of us attended, there was an amazing presentation by Octavia’s Brood, a collection of radical science fiction women of color, in which they argued “all organizing is science fiction: how else can we imagine a world without prisons, for example?”

Then here are some really interesting reads that give an overview of the politics of imagination and visioning: Crisis of Imagination, Crisis of Power, and Decolonizing the Revolutionary Imagination.

If you would like to,  bring an example of something created that came out of a vision.
June 2014: Meaningful Work, part 2 (Because we had a small gathering in June and we focused on people’s personal work experiences, we did not take notes.)

We are excited to continue discussion from our May Dialogue on meaningful work when we gather in June, but shift to looking at our visions for and commitments to the steps we each must take towards the abolition of racism, white supremacy, sexism, and heterosexism and toward the creation of a world we want to live in. What barriers stand in the way and how do we address them? How do issues related to trust fit into this (learning to trust ourselves, addressing socializations of who is/is not trustworthy)?  What spheres of influence do we have in our work, through our work, or to change our work?

We hope to use this time to expand our vision of fulfilling work, and will draw on personal examples and specific work situations as case studies for radical creativity.  Please bring a personal, specific example that you would be willing to bring to the group for group brainstorming, visioning, and problem solving.
May 2014: Meaningful Work

For May, we will we explore the idea of “meaningful work.” What is it? What stories have we been told about it? Is it a necessity, a right, a privilege or a luxury to do work that aligns with our values and also pays the bills? Is the work we are doing (both paid and unpaid) just a pressure release valve, allowing larger social structures to remain unchanged, or are we really pushing our radical edges and building our communities? And how do paradigms about “sacrifice”  and “success” fit into this conversation? Whether our work is in the buffer zone, the arts, industry or elsewhere, come explore these ideas with us. And check out this, this and/or this article to stir up some thoughts.
April 2014: Current Struggles & First Noisemaker Session
We are excited for April’s dialog, and for the launch of the first-ever White Noisemakers!  The theme for April’s dialog is “What’s up with you?  Challenges, successes, and areas of growth” (see more below). We are seeking a location for our April dialogue.  If you are able and willing to host, and want to bring White Noise to you, please email us to let us know!  Please come to the dialog with your struggles and challenges and what you need and want to explore in community and over the next three dialogs – we will generate the next three topics together as apart of our evening.
March 2014: Allyship: Critiques, Potentials and Practices

Challenges to the concept of “alliance” keep arising, in particular with regards to white antiracists. We’ll familiarize ourselves with common criticisms, dive into our own growth edges and practices, and examine the limits and possibilities of this model. We will try to balance theory and lived experience in this dialogue, so please think of a recent experience wherein you felt challenged by your role as an ally to share and possibly work through together. We’ll use a few recent blogs to inspire our discussion:

February 2014: Love, Rage and V-Day: What’s going on with white feminists?

What issues are white feminists largely drawn to, how are those issues expressed, in what ways is white privilege showing up, and what patterns are helpful to explore? Here are links to a number of pieces that relate to this month’s theme, diving into patterns, concerns, critiques, and questions of white feminists and feminism. We offer these not to be overwhelming, but thought that one or two might stir your interest before we meet in person:

November 2013: Thanksgiving Mythologies

Thanksgiving/Thanks-taking is coming up, and with inherited and/or chosen family time together, it is a potent time to (re)direct attention to realities that are hidden by this holiday’s very old propaganda campaign. We’ll look at histories of this land (specifically in CA), Thanksgiving and other national bedtime stories/mythologies we tell ourselves.
For additional resources on ways to subvert and shift this holiday towards social justice education and challenging historical amnesia, you may find these interesting:

October 2013 Dialogue: Costumes

From the “wicked witch” to the “Illegal alien” to the “Indian headdress,” we’ll spend some time discussing common costumes that reinforce and encourage racism, cultural appropriation, sexual objectification, and ways to reclaim imagination and creative spookiness.
And…
We got inspired to create a fun participatory action this Halloween – please check out our new blog that just went live (it’s aliiiive):
with lots of great analysis, links, and a sign we crafted that you can out and discretely place on costumes in stores that perpetrate offensive stereotypes or tired awful choices. There is also a tumblr just up, where you can post a photo of the action, which costume got the “Attention” sign, as well as photos of costumes that are fabulous, creative and don’t rely on objectification of others.
Please share and pass around – this is an easy way to intervene into the collective Halloween imagination.

September 2013 Dialogue: Gentrification

On September 17th we invite you to join us again in monthly dialogue–this time examining the theme of gentrification in the Bay Area.  From San Francisco (also this, and this) to Oakland and beyond, we’ll analyze deeper trends that influence where we live and why, including “safety,” economics, credibility, and quality of life.  After all, gentrification is #73 on the list of Stuff White People Like. And how do race, class, gender and colonial settlement tie into the conversation?
For more resources on the intersection of gentrification and July’s dialogue topic of food justice, explore Oakland’s Phat Beet’s statement on gentrification, and the specific example of gentrification related to their cooperative community kitchen (local presstheir response).

August 2013 Dialogue: Virtuous Victim Narrative

We’ll spend this evening looking at ways the narratives about white women, such as the virtuous victim narrative, are used to justify violence against men of color. Specifically, we’d like to discuss the ways Zimmerman used his neighbor to justify his murder of Trayvon Martin, how this ties into deeply entrenched histories and brainstorm ways we can counteract this narrative.

July 2013 Dialogue: Food Justice

The topic of white women in the food justice movement has surfaced in many previous dialogues, so this month we’ve decided to dedicate an entire dialogue to it.  What space have white women taken and/or created in the food justice movement, especially in the SF Bay Area?  How do race, gender and class influence definitions of and relationship with “good food” and the larger arena of food politics? How does white female socialization influence how we eat, what we eat, and how we build and form relationships around food?  We will discuss how whiteness and femaleness present themselves in our daily lives and work in its relation to “good food”, all while enjoying some “good food”.Some food for thought on food:
http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/03/12/the-femisphere-foodies-and-food-politics/
Also attached is the article, ” ‘If Only They Knew’: Color Blindness and Universalism in California Alternative Food Institutions”

While the initial topic of the dialogue was Food Justice, a topic near and dear to many of us, it seems impossible to imagine not also dedicating some time to discuss the George Zimmerman verdict.  Given the timeliness of this unimaginable injustice, and the role of white women on Zimmerman’s jury, we plan to divide our time between these two important topics.

June 2013 Dialogue: SURJ and Immigrant Justice

We’ll be joined by special guest Dara Silverman with SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) to explore the history of white people and immigrants through activities, discussion and to help make plans to take action.
http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/

May 2013 Dialogue: Difficult Conversations Part 2

What communication patterns do we notice in ourselves? How does white female socialization (and other forms of socialization, cultural values, etc) factor into these patterns and how does it affect our ability to engage in meaningful and often difficult conversations with folks who have different perspectives? We will discuss these themes as well as discuss strategic responses – so that we don’t just grit our teeth and ignore the racist or otherwise marginalizing comments that many of our families, friends and co-workers make! Open to participants of past workshops and dialogues.

 

April 2013 Dialogue: White Privilege Conference Share Out

In similar format to last year, this will be a Community Report back from this year’s White Privilege Conference. Our hope is to create an informal space for WPC presenters and participants to reflect on 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. We especially welcome those who could not attend to join us.

March 2013 Dialogue: Helping Professions and the Buffer Zone: Maintaining and Challenging the System

In response to the theme of this year’s White Privilege Conference, The Color of Money, we will be re-examining what Paul Kivel terms “ the buffer zone,” a range of jobs and occupations that structurally serve to maintain the wealth and power of the ruling class by acting as a buffer between those at the top of the economic pyramid and those at the bottom. With a focus on how people socialized as white and female have occupied and represented this terrain, we will examine historical patterns, iconic images, and our individual participation and insight. The buffer zone serves a threefold function: taking care of people, keeping hope alive, and controlling people. How are certain helping and care-taking professions seen as being particularly suited to white females, how do they help maintain the status quo, and what potentials and models exist for subversion within the buffer zone to shake the system towards greater equity and justice?

December 2012 Dialogue: Difficult Conversations (Holidays, Family and Beyond) +Powerful Non-Defensive Communication Summary Hand-out

What communication patterns do we notice in ourselves? How does white female socialization (and other forms of socialization, cultural values, etc) factor into these patterns and how does it affect our ability to engage in meaningful and often difficult conversations with friends, family and folks with different perspectives? We will discuss these themes as well as learn and practice strategic non-defensive communication – so that as we head home for the holidays, we can make this year the one when we don’t just grit our teeth and ignore the racist or otherwise marginalizing comments that many of our families make!

October 2012 Dialogue: Witches + Witches PowerPoint

In honor of Halloween and the time of spirits close among us, our October Dialogue will look at the long history of political repression related to witchcraft and the demonization of the independent, earth-based feminine that lives into today. How are modern and historical characterizations and treatment of witches influenced by legacies of oppression? What are the implications and effects of the past witch hunts as well as the ones that continue today across the globe (both overt and covert versions)? How do we build resiliency in our communities of dissent while maintaining awareness of the risk of persecution?

September 2012 Dialogue: Body as Battleground

Within the context of the upcoming presidential elections – from reproductive rights under attack, to moves to redefine rape, to slut shaming, how are female bodies being used to wage political war and ideologies? How are white women and women of color being targeted and represented differently? How can we strategically step up and speak out in alliance?

June 2012 Dialogue: Psychology of Racism

For our June dialogue, we will focus on material that we learned at a workshop on the psychology of racism. We’ll be watching a short video on shame and vulnerability and looking at how shame and other psychological experiences (anxiety, denial, fear, etc) challenge, support and inform our work with oppression and privilege. How can we better understand the psychological motivators of prejudice so that we know how to work with it in ourselves and in others? How can we learn to tolerate the anxiety, shame, guilt and anger that we might feel when addressing our own white privilege and gender oppression so that those emotions do not deter us from fully engaging with and exploring issues related to racism and sexism?

May 2012 Dialogue: WPC13 “Intersectionality” report-back

February 2012 Dialogue: White Women in Helping Professions

What images come to mind when we think of a teacher? social worker? fundraiser? therapist? midwife? What representations and histories shape the large demographics of white females in what are seen as “helping” and “care-taking” professions? How does white privilege, “the white man’s burden“, and structural racism play into all of this? How do notions of “feminine labor” shape our understandings, expectations and life experiences? Whose work is in the spotlight, whose is made invisible? How are white women socialized to draw them into care-taking and helping professions? How does the disproportionate number of white women in these professions impact these industries and the people being “helped”? What should we be aware of in the broader landscape of labor struggles and alliances? Let’s dive into these complex waters and see what comes up.

January 2012 Dialogue: Motherhood, Parenting and “White Moms”

Relationships with white moms, parenting identities, social scripts and subversion.

November 2011 Dialogue: Occupy Movement

October 2011 Dialogue: Cultural Appropriation

September 2011 Dialogue: Gender & Sexuality

June 2011 Dialogue: Earth-based Spirituality

May 2011 Dialogue: ”White women’s tears

April 2011 Dialogue: Exploration of Ancestry

March 2011 Dialogue: Creating the Questions

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