Tuesday, September 15, 2015

First Week of Sept. Events

The first week of each month will bring two opportunities for community engagement, in preparation of Undoing Racism® here in Central PA. One is a fundraiser- Founders' Donation Events-- until Spring. Make sure you attend your communities Founder's Donation Event! The other is an informal Meet-up to talk about how to approach our communities with the subject of racism, and how to organize for Undoing Racism® trainings in our area. The Meet-ups are open to anyone and free.

September's Founder's Donation Event was in Bloomsburg.
We raised: $78.52
Number of participants: 5
Total average donation per person:  $15.70

Our conversation was led by a game of 'What do we know about racism?" The understanding of what racism is has changed over time. We had a participants from multiple generations. One lived through the time of segregation, and remembers racism being about one group of people believing that they are better than another group. My generation recognizes uncomfortableness as a sign of a problem, a few focused on structures of power that oppress some people. So what is the new language around racism- how is racism defined today?

Racism- a power structure that favors one race over another

What about when non-white people discriminate against white people? Let's take a look at the definition of white people in the Urban Dictionary (definitions are voted on, and the top winner is the prevailing definition)...how is popular culture talking about 'white' people?
"Single handedly, the most violent race of human beings throughout the history of mankind. No other race of human beings has killed more people, raped more women, destroyed more cultures, or has stolen as much land as white people. White people are the most hated race of human beings.
Read any university level history book to learn the truth about "White people""
 Are white people the bad race? We talked about this as part of our game. I also address this subject squarely in my free talk "Who are We? Race and Identity in Rural PA"
 This current Urban dictionary definition is clearly discrimination:

Discrimination- judging a person by a group affiliation instead of on individual merit

While the Urban Dictionary definition is offensive to 'white' people, what power does it have to change our ability to get a job, rent a house, or get a loan? What power structure is this definition embedded in? This is the difference between discrimination and racism. 'White' Americans may be discriminated against, but are not subject to a power system that favors black or hispanic people over 'white.'

One thing the definition does tell us is the unrest in the non white community over racism and discrimination that affects their everyday lives. How does racism manifest itself in your family, business or community? This topic leads well into the Meet-up at The Well in Milton over the weekend...

The Well in Milton

Only one person came to The Well on Sunday, but the manager of the coffee shop also sat down for a bit, so that made three of us. Most of the time I went over what Undoing Racism® is, and the information gathered from the previous Meet-up- mostly challenges and tools for approaching the community about racism. 

We were able to spend a little time on the subject of the day, which was- 'The Conversation about White Racism," which starts with "I am not racist." The world seems to be telling 'white' people that all 'white' people are racist. It sounds very offensive, but the meaning behind it is: white people are privileged, and every 'white' person benefits from a system that favors 'white' people- and more 'white' people knowingly, or unknowingly, perpetuate white privilege. ...and it is not just white people who favor white people in our culture. This is something we have to work on as Americans.

White privilege in the US is something that many people do not see or recognize:

White Privilege-  benefits for 'white' people in societies that favor white complexions

Understanding what racism is, how we play a role, and what we can do about it is stressfull, especially if we don't have the definitions to provide answers, or the tools to solve the problem. 

During the Meet-up, myself and the other person remaining (the manager had to get back to work) thought about what came for us after, "I am not racist" and we both had the same experience:

Listening to non-white voices. This can be difficult in a very white area, like we live in- but our time in history is ripe with diverse voices rising up to tell their story, and demand equity in our systems. Our participant at the Meet-up had a chance to listen to voices at the Bucknell Solidarity Event.  We can hear minority voices in academic papers, the news, literature, history, politics... and if we make room and open doors, in our own businesses, organizations, and communities.

This is what Undoing Racism® is about: understanding structural racism, white privilege, and the role we might play in perpetuating racism in our communities; listening to the non white experience, and getting the definitions and tools we may use to Undo Racism® for a more prosperous and healthy future.

Thanks everyone for coming out! Stay tuned for October events!