Inspire 2022 Workshop: Anti-White Supremacy, White Consciousness, and White Fragility

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This post is one of many conversations taking place in anticipation of Inspire 2022, set to happen in Tinley Park (a suburb of Chicago, Illinois) on August 4-6, 2022. Sign up to receive Inspire 2022 emails, which include the latest news on speakers, special opportunities, registration, and more. We hope to see you there! 

How can I, as a white person, work for racial justice and anti-white supremacy?

Are you a white person that would like to work for racial justice, but aren’t sure how? Do you desire to learn, grow, and be a part of a more racially just world? Do you crave connectedness, accountability, and action in your journey?

This session is designed to focus on the necessary labor of white people to do the heavy lifting of doing racial justice and anti-white supremacy work. We work to put the onus on ourselves to grow, stretch, embrace discomfort, be brave, act, and connect with others, in relationship, toward anti-racist action.

After George Floyd’s murder in 2020 many white people rushed to march for racial justice, but the urgency was met with strident backlash. Where does this leave us?

Systems of oppression (such as housing segregation, racialized health disparities, vast racial opportunity gaps, etc.), privilege, and power can be invisible to those that benefit from them. For this reason, it is especially critical for increased awareness, accountability, and action by white people, taking the leadership of People of Color, not reinventing organizations, programs, and outreach that continues to center whiteness.

White people claim to want to learn, apply, and be anti-racist. The session will be an opportunity to listen, journal, and discuss in small groups.

This session is facilitated by white people to encourage white people to do the necessary work of anti-racism and anti-white supremacy. Participants will consider:

  • Common grounding definitions (these may surprise you!) such as: anti-racism, anti-white supremacy, white consciousness, white privilege, allyship, accomplice, and white fragility
  • Racial justice frameworks (yes, by People of Color!)
  • Common deflection moves (that serve to protect the status quo)
  • Brave vs. safe spaces (unpacking who is actually protected by safe spaces)
  • How to focus on head, heart, and hands commitments (let’s get out of our heads, and feel the pain of injustice)
  • Difference between whiteness (as a social construct) and individual white people

Participants will grapple with and work to answer questions such as:

  • What do I know about my whiteness and what it communicates?
  • How does a head, heart, hands approach help me when I want an easy checklist to anti-racism?
  • What definitions help me better understand how racism retains power?
  • How are white consciousness and anti-racism connected?
  • What is God’s call to us, in the face of racial injustice?
  • If my community is predominantly, or all, white, what can I do to be anti-racist?

In this session we will:

  • Give due credit to People of Color for the ideas shared in this session
  • Acknowledge that “Progress for People of Color Doesn’t Come at White Folks’ Expense” (via Heather McGhee)
  • Embrace the critical importance for white people to intentionally engage in anti-white supremacy work – to better identify our own behaviors, the systems at play, and learn how to take an active role in interrupting white supremacy
  • Share resources including videos, articles, books and more throughout the session for further learning, accountability, and action
  • Welcome all people in any role to participate
  • Allow the asking of questions that may be scary or uncomfortable
  • Acknowledge the biggest fear of white folks is showing up as racist, yet it happens all day every day
  • Mistakes are a big part of the anti-racist journey; we won’t let that stop us
  • Embrace discomfort and eschew perfection

Meet your facilitator:

Deanna Rolffs, she/her
Senior Design Partner, Design Group International
Advanced Process Consultant, Leadership Coach, Certified Cognitive Coach
Deanna Rolffs is a coach, process consultant, strategist, and facilitator that has worked with executive leaders and teams for more than twenty years, the
last ten focused on the intersection of organizational change, leadership development, justice, and anti-oppression. Deanna’s process consulting approach focuses on organizational transformation via thriving team culture, brave leadership, equitable systems, and inclusive communities. Deanna is an Advanced Process Consultant and holds the following credentials: Intercultural Development Inventory Qualifying Certificate, Cognitive Coaching Certificate, Systems Mapping, Diversity & Inclusion Certificate, and SMART Goals Facilitator. Deanna supports leaders and teams of all sizes, in all sectors, and has been a member of Design Group International’s community of practice as a Senior Consultant since 2018 and a Senior Design Partner since 2021.

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Good day Deanna:

      My work in South Africa does not permit me to attend your session, but from what I can see you have quite a plateful to bring across to your audience.

      I just finished reading John McWhorter of Columbia University's new book,  'Woke Racism: how a new religion has betrayed Black America' and I wonder if any of his insights will weigh in on your thinking? His thoughts were also reflected in Voddie Baucham's book Fault Lines. Specifically, they, as black men are asking some very hard questions around what they see as the "religion of anti-racism." For example, they look at the creeds, catechism, atonement views, worldview, priests and priestesses, and, among others, the original sin of anti-racism promoted by people whom McWhorter dubs "the Elect." Reading your promotion piece, I can not help but wonder if the end-goal of your seminar is for white people to make atonement for the original sin or white supremacy, or just plainly "whiteness"?  I also wonder if you have taken McWorter's concern that the religion of anti-racism is ultimately demeaning to black people?

Just wondering.

    In Christ

Dr. John Span

Senior Lecturer at Mukhanyo Theological College and Commissioned Pastor in the CRC