What does it mean to be a white ally to people of color? What are the essential traits of a white ally?
Surely one of those traits is the willingness to stay in relationship even when it’s uncomfortable.–whether I am being called on my own racism, or being challenged by a story that is unfamiliar to me, outside of the realm of my personal experience, or speaking to other white people, as in this blog or from the pulpit or face-to-face. Staying. Speaking up. Speaking out. Speaking against, when necessary. The people I am speaking to may or may not be white people who are well-intentioned. Nevertheless, as a white ally, it is my work to interrogate my own experience, my own history, the history of my ancestors–not in a way that gets me stuck in the past, but in such a way that illuminates the present and points a path into the future. It is my work to take what I find and experience, engage with other white folks, and witness to what I am learning. Remembering always that there is still (always!) much more to learn.
It is my work. Why? Because I am the beneficiary of a system that values white bodies over Black and Brown bodies, over Indigenous and Latine and Asian American bodies. I was born into this system and raised by its tenets long before I reached the age of consent. Now as an adult, I am horrified by the damage that systemic racism continues to deal.
You may not find me here on this blog for the next three months, because I am on sabbatical. Sabbatical! what a wonderful word, opening a world of possibilities. A time of Sabbath, of soul-rest: not solely vacating the usual spaces I occupy at work and at home, but opening to new guidance, new experiences, new learnings. New sharing and new witness.
In the meantime, I want to offer you an extraordinary opportunity for new experience and new learnings; something that will open your mind, challenge your heart, and, yes, induce a bit of holy discomfort:
Hard Conversations: Deep Dive Into Racism and Its Undoing is a month-long seminar, led by authors, speakers, and social justice activists Patti Digh and Victor Lee Lewis, each of whom has had 30+ years of experience working for equity and justice.
The seminar features an online classroom, with readings and questions for exploration, and five weekly 90-minute conversations via Zoom. There is a sliding scale of fees, from $0 to $50 and up, so that cost will not be a factor in anyone’s decision whether or not to sign up.
I signed up twice for this course in the past year, in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd and unanswered questions around the deaths of too many other people of color. And still there is more for me to learn from these two teachers, both of whom underscore that they, too, are learners, and that every single member of the cohort has learnings to share. The wealth of material that they have curated for this online course is astounding, as is the way they have put it together. The weekly conversations are pure gold and are recorded for people who are unable to attend–but you will find yourself not wanting to miss any of the live calls.
The upcoming Cohort 38 begins THURSDAY, APRIL 29, with the first Live Seminar, and continues on May 6, May 13, May 20, and May 27, all Thursdays, 3:30-5:00 pm EDT (12:30-2:00 pm PDT).
If you are interested, please visit www.hardconversations.com. And when I see you here again in August, may we all have learnings to share.