Beginning this month and running into April, Williams College will host workshops for its faculty and staff to allow them to “process their whiteness.”
Titled just that — “Processing Whiteness” — the sessions provide “opportunities to analyze and understand white identity, white privilege and racism in a supportive environment that focuses on the experiences of the participants.”
According to the event description, Integrative Wellbeing Services Fellow Ruby Solomon, Williams College Rabbi Seth Wax, and German Professor Gail Newman will “guide” participants through a total of eight, one-and-one quarter hour discussions about “the historical and contemporary implications of white identity […] race and racism [and] implicit bias,” and will offer support for “feelings of shame.”
Antendees also will “explore and practice allyship and interrupting racism.”
The event’s site notes materials will be culled from Shelly Tochluk’s Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk about Race and How to Do It. The introduction to the Witnessing Whiteness website notes how Tochluk’s participation in track and field at UCLA helped shape her views on race:
“[I]ssues of race were dealt with very differently. Discriminatory experiences at UCLA were not discussed softly on the track. Although not a daily focus of attention, when issues did surface, my Black teammates’ pain and anger were evident and far from hidden or covered over. …
After these collegiate experiences, I existed with a continuous recognition of myself as a racial being and a disavowal of prejudice and racism. Why was I unable to maintain these friendships off the track? I still hold deep affection for these men and women who were such an instrumental part of my life. What allowed these relationships to remain superficial enough that they could fall away so quickly once the team completed its activity?”
Tochluk’s program is utilized by the pricey College School in St. Louis where race consciousness training starts before kindergarten.
The Processing Whiteness page also provides a link to the website for AWARE, or the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere. AWARE notes that “people of color shouldn’t always have to be the ones to educate white people about racism and oppression,” and that “in order to challenge racism and dismantle white supremacy, white people need to unlearn racism and discover the ways we enact white privilege.”
The good news for Processing Whiteness guests: The workshops are free … and a “light lunch” will be provided!
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