Time to unpack. A reflection on perpetuating white supremacy patterns at the White Privilege Conference.

This past weekend, I, along with most of the members of the White Noise Collective, attended the 14th Annual White Privilege Conference in Seattle, WA.

For us and for me, the learning was deep and came in unexpected ways. I learned so much from every workshop, keynote and conversation I participated in, including gaining knowledge about the anti-asian racism perpetuated by use of the practice and term “meditation,” ways that white supremacy shows up in organizational decision-making processes (even collective ones) and the destructive potentials and neocolonialism and international “aid.” Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to summarize these three days.

And so I’m focusing this on the learning that came from the process of presenting our newest workshop, White Females and Helping Professions in the Buffer Zone. In our workshop, we presented some of our thinking about the social construction of the“white female identity” and the “buffer zone,” reviewed a few threads of the historical context that encouraged white females to take on roles in the buffer zone (specifically as a part of the origin and maintenance of capitalism), and then engaged folks in creating a Theatre of the Oppressed piece in order to generate ideas about the patterns and how we can find our zones of influence to make change.… Read more

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

What’s Awesome About White Women?

Naming what sucks about white women is really easy and really satisfying. We do it a lot, especially us white women. We get to have the satisfaction of differentiating ourselves from the white female “prototype” ie. a hetero barbie who is a pretty, nice, passive, pure, covertly racist, helpless trophy and (do a really common thing that white women do) compare ourselves and think, “See we know what that is, and we are better than that”.  In our workshops we spend a lot of time naming what the white female prototype is in an effort to shift towards a radical anti-racist white female practice and away from the myth that we are all just individuals with no culture (we may not want to claim it as our culture, but it impacts us all nonetheless). After this mostly negative naming (see the White Female Culture post) we’ve asked, “What’s awesome about white women?”

This question always makes us incredibly uncomfortable.… Read more

Stuff White Women Like

These items are the top 50 things named in 526,000 profiles of white women on the dating site, Ok Cupid, as posted on their blog.
These are listed in order of the frequency each thing was written.

1. the Red Sox
2. Jodi Picoult
3. boating
4. Nascar
5. mascara
6. Ireland
7. Nicholas Sparks
8. horseback riding
9. bonfires
10. flea markets
11. a country girl
12. Nora Ephron
13. waitress
14. Ray Lamontagne
15. I’m blond
16. Yankees
17. Kenny Chesney
18. decorating
19. getting dressed up
20. skiing
21. When Harry met Sally
22. baths
23. my red hair
24. horses
25. summertime
26. wine
27. dmb
28. historical fiction
29. cookbooks
30. flip-flops
31. my girlfriends
32. The Time Traveler’s Wife
33. country music
34. diet coke
35. dirty dancing
36. coffee
37. thunderstorms
38. Midwest
39. Tim Mcgraw
40. new recipes
41. Patricia Cornwell
42. mom
43.… Read more

White Female Culture

So many white people – including the half of us that are female – believe that we have no culture. As a dominant, centered culture, it is often invisible to ourselves. We think we are “normal” and everyone else is cultural or “ethnic”. So recently, the White Noise Collective led an exercise to identify some key components of invisibilized cultural norms for white women, that we often find ourselves either trying to emulate or trying to resist.

Here’s what came up from a group of 30 white women from a broad spectrum of class backgrounds, sexuality, ages and spiritual orientations. They are listed in the order of the frequency they were written.

(things in place#1 had about 10 mentions, #10 had 2-3 mentions).

What do white females value?
1. Family, Motherhood, Children
2. Looking good for men, beauty, fit
3. Being a good girl, niceness, kindness, smiling, polite
4. Status, approval
5. … Read more