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.
January 2017 Dialogue: Challenges, Resistances, and Mutual Aid in a Time of Fascism
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.
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.”
August Dialogue: Race, Gender and Workplace Power
July 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.
- ACLU Report: War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing
- BLM: In response to increased policing of civic center, awardees withdraw participation from pride parade
- We Pushed Urban Shield Out of Oakland, but the Struggle Continues!
June 2016: 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.
Herstory: The Origins and Continued Relevancy of Black Feminist Thought in the United States by Cherise Charleswell
- (Extra Optional) What’s in a Word? by Andi Marquette
(Extra Optional) Black Woman, White Movement: Why Black Women are Leaving the Feminist Movement by Georgina Class-Peters
May 2016: 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.
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:
- Excerpts from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me (specifically the section about the ‘Dream’)
- James Baldwin- On Being White and Other Lies
- Helm’s White Racial Identity Development Model
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:
- Caitlin Jenner, Social Media, and Violent Solidarity
- A Note on Callout Culture
- When Misogynist Trolls Make Journalism Miserable for Women
- How Male Trolls, Harassment, Sexism, and Racism Can Dominate Women’s Web Experience
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
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?
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?
September 2015: #BLM: A Hundred Ways to Show Up
June 2015: Hope and Hopelessness.
Check out some of the readings below:
The Radical Politics of Self-Love and Self-Care. Soojin Pate, The Feminist Wire.
Barriers to Organization Between Anti-Racist White People. Joanie Mayer.
Calling In: A Less Disposible Way of Holding Each Other Accountable. Ngọc Loan Trần, Black Girl Dangerous.
March 2015: Safety and (Dis)comfort
- To support this dialogue, we recommend checking out a great article by Robin DiAngelo called “White Fragility,” which explores “white expectations for racial comfort” and an often lowered ability to tolerate racial stress due to insulated environments of racial privilege.
- If you have time, also, check out An Important Lesson White People Must Learn If They’re Serious About Fighting Racism by Janee Woods, or: The Discomfort Zone by By Tressie McMillan Cottom
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:
- On Ferguson Protests, the Destruction of Things, and What Violence Really Is (and Isn’t), Mia McKenzie, Black Girl Dangerous
- Pumpkin Riot, Ferguson, and the White Privilege to Turn Down for Whatever, Kevin Gostzola, The Dissenter
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
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?
October 2014: Liberate Halloween action-crafting
September 2014: Cultural Appropriation of Yoga and Buddhist Traditions
- Consuming Commodified Blackness by bell hooks (just page 21 – though this piece is not about yoga or Buddhism directly, it does a wonderful job of framing why members of white culture seek out “other” traditions)
- The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation
- Whiteness, Buddhism and Safe Spaces: Hands off our sitio y lengua!
- Are White People Ruining Yoga?
- Ghosts of Yogas Past and Present (references some lesser known historical and political context of yoga)
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?”
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:
- GradientLair’s I Don’t Want Tim Wise As An Ally
- Jamie Utt’s So You Call Yourself an Ally: 10 Things All ‘Allies’ Need to Know
- Southern Poverty Law Center’s White Anti-racism: Living the Legacy
- Suey Park’s Challenging Racism and the Problem with White “Allies”: A Conversation with David Leonard.
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:
- Beyond Eve Ensler: What Should Organizing Against Gender Violence Look Like?
- One Billion Rising: Eve Ensler’s White Feminist Low Blow
- One Billion Rising, Eve Ensler and the Contradictions of Carceral Feminism(s)
- Why I Won’t Support One Billion Rising
- The Myth of Shared Female Experience and How It Perpetuates Inequality
- FEMINISM FOR REAL: DECONSTRUCTING THE ACADEMIC INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX OF FEMINISM
November 2013: Thanksgiving Mythologies
October 2013 Dialogue: Costumes
We got inspired to create a fun participatory action this Halloween – please check out our new blog that just went live (it’s aliiiive):
September 2013 Dialogue: Gentrification
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
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.
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 Confere
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