Though the workshops are taught by white people, the content of these workshops was determined and guided by input from people of color—of varied class, gender, ethnicity, and profession. Lorraine and Antje interviewed BIPOC who represented a range of ethnicities, professions, socio-economics, and philosophical/political orientation. They asked them what they wanted white people to learn – what would be “white people’s own work?”

The following curriculum was developed from the input of BIPOC, which are summations of many in-depth discussions:


Developing consciousness of being “white.” This includes:

  • White power and privilege (mainstream dynamics and group privilege); the role of the
    presumption of superiority in white culture.
  • How racism works at an individual, group, and systems level; how whites keep it going; understand group-level identities and behaviors
  • To understand unconscious as well as conscious racism
  • White superiority, especially in relation to Blacks; by seeing Blacks as less than human. all types of behavior can be rationalized
  •  Understand ranking behavior
  • Noticing racially structured worlds, segregation – Where one lives, shops, worships, etc.?
  • How “individualism” affects white consciousness
  • The process of positive white identity development – as a process (e.g., Helms’ model)

The projection …of unaddressed inner conflicts and emotions. For example:

  • Anger and fear from other issues directed to BIPOC, as it’s easier to put it on those more vulnerable.
  • Issues un-worked in the white community (e.g., white women and white men)

Denial/defensiveness, fear, collusion. This includes:

  • Collusion: staying silent when seeing racism; easier to go along and not rock the boat
  • Denial of one’s racist programming, behavior; hard for whites to hear feedback
  • The need for approval from other whites; fear of the consequences of living one’s principles; understand effect of marginalization of whites who work this issue openly
  • Denial of differences between whites and people of color; quickness to join with people of color – has negating impact of “my experience is the same as yours”
  • Tendency to quickly differentiate self from other “racist” (aka “bad whites”)
  • “Enlightened (“woke” )whites” or diversity consultants often most defensive; often have biggest gap between image or stated values and behavior
  • Be willing to acknowledge a person of color’s experience of racism; be willing to examine one’s behavior and impact. Unwillingness to do so creates dilemma for people of color: to stay silent or risk being “the oversensitive/angry black person”

Self-image versus actual behavior. This includes:

  • Self-image one WANTS to have can blind whites from seeing their own racist behavior
  • There is often a gap between a white person’s self-image and his/her actual behavior; this impacts his/her openness to feedback and his/her credibility
  • Need for whites to develop a reliable feedback system – not just on how they see
  • White people who think they are “woke” – often the more difficult; more “subtle” or implicit vs overt racism; more difficult to address; more tendency to deny racist behavior; gap between self-image and behavior

Self work: be willing to do the inner work needed to:

  • Get past defensiveness and self image
  • Heal the hurt in you so it doesn’t bump against the other (this is work she feels people of color need to do also); so we don’t nullify one another
  • Be willing to own one’s racism
  • Develop the will to get past fear – of the consequences of living your principles, of
    confronting other whites, of not colluding, of the need for approval from other whites
  • Skill of listening, acknowledging, talking, and changing; hearing feedback
  • Willingness to stay in the dialog, work through conflict
  • Getting past white guilt; don’t let it stop you from saving live
  • To do ongoing work to keep the consciousness up; easy for any dominant group to lapse into unconsciousness; to continually work the cycle of denial, fear until behavior becomes an unconscious habit

Seeing through stereotypes. This includes:

  • Role of the Media: bombardment of images that keep negative stereotypes alive (welfare, the violent black male vs current profile of shooters
  • Blacks seen as incompetent; white’s tendency not to acknowledge person of color’s
    contributions; or, to OVER compensate by complementing on the smallest of things
    (patronizing); competence as a difficult dynamic for people of color because of always having it questioned. Less competent white person will get more access than a competent person of color
  • Understand and see through these; hear and see with different consciousness
  • Be willing to tolerate differences in speaking, dress, norms

Understanding the role of class and economics. For example:

  • Class-oppression dynamics are integrally linked; can’t deal with one and not the other
  • Perception exists that there is only one class of people of color
  • History of slavery and economics linked – capitalism and slavery entwined.
  • The systemic causes of wealth inequities

Moving from awareness to action

  • Talk, awareness, and intent are not enough; no real help; need to take action
  • Anyone who is really serious needs to make a commitment to action; every action goes some place
  • Whether someone’s behaviors/actions are aligned is what gives credibility or determines authenticity
  • Actions do not need to be all grand movements; small actions go a long way
  • Need for whites to work issues within their community, such as white women and white men working their gender issues; otherwise these dynamics get played out with people of color
  • Whites may not grasp all the complexities of race; but don’t let this stop you from acting and taking responsibility for what has happened and still is happening

Study history as the context for current issues. Without an understanding of the long history of race in this country and the embedding of whiteness and white law and superiority, people can’t accurately understand the current symptoms of systemic racism.

Other themes noted:

  • The intersection of gender and race and other identities
  • The need to hear BIIPOC stories: cross cultural sharing and relationship building
  • Role of Christianity in Racism
  • The interplay of various ethnicities – inter-group dynamics. Intersectionality