Words on the Wall from WPC Workshops

It was a joy and honor to share two White Noise Collective workshops at the 13th Annual White Privilege Conference in Albuquerque. This year’s overall theme was “Intersectionality”.  Both times we had a full room of wonderfully engaged participants, intergenerational perspectives, fascinating insights and Theater of the Oppressed explorations.  As people entered the room, we asked them to write a word or phrase in response to nine questions that were up on the walls on large sheets of paper, to get us collectively thinking about some of the dynamics, tensions, stereotypes and possibilities of this intersection.  A number of participants asked if we would share the responses, and so here they are in their fullness, compiled and combined from both sessions.

Thank you to everyone for your openness, presence, enthusiasm, constructive criticism, and inspiration!

What is the role of white women holding up the system of white supremacy?

Passivity/submission * silence is acceptance * non-confrontational * submissive * partnering * management * keep quiet * amnesia/numbing of pain after witnessing racist violence done by white men * majority of K-12 teachers * keeping the peace * seeking power * silence <-> complicity * focusing activist efforts on feminism (white women) * history of protecting whiteness in the name of protecting white women * being afraid to challenge white males * fear of perception of “bitch” – “unhappy” – “cold”, etc.… Read more

On “Sh*t White Girls Say…” : Making Microaggressions Conscious

A Youtube tsunami of sh*t all kinds of people say (and birds and wookies and beyond) has been flooding the internet.  Ranging from hilarious, brilliant and edgy to somewhat tired at this point, this formula has been a tremendously generative capsule to fill and spread, making us crack up by hearing things we’ve heard so many times with new ears, giving the familiar an anthropological twist.  One version of this creative phenomenon, “Sh*t _____ says to…_____” has also taken on a digital wildfire life of its own, sparked by graphic designer, video blogger and hair stylist Franchesca Ramsey, whose “Sh*t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” was the first viral video of 2012, now reaching over 7 million views.  Seven million views. Clearly a massive nerve was touched, and there have been waves of commentary and controversy, with high praises, gratitude, and, predictable accusations of “reverse racism”, or the “blacklash” as Ramsey has dubbed it. … Read more

the april dialogue: understanding our ancestry

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

Themes to Comment On!

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

2.… Read more

We Heart Dialogue

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

Monthly Dialogues

We did a bunch of workshops – and now we want to host monthly dialogues to dive deeper into some of the topics that have come up for people. This is open to all, whether or not you have participated in a workshop or not, and you can come to as many or as few as you like.

Some of the themes that we may potentially dialogue about include:
the virtuous victim narrative,
…costs/benefits/strategies/patterns of passive-aggressive behavior,
cultural appropriation,
victimization and victim identity,
apartheid “lite” systems
white women in helping professions

In addition, the dialogues could help us to potentially manifest projects such as writing, actions, theater, and resource sharing.

For our first meeting, we’ll share the “findings” of the workshop series, and from there we can chart out where we want to collectively go.

The dates for this spring are 3rd Tuesdays starting in March!:
March 15
April 12 (an exception, due to Passover on the 19th)
May 17
June 21

Time: 6:00-9:00
RSVP: whitenoisecollective at gmail dot com for Location info