How do we talk about being white?
We all know that racism harms people of color. How often do we think about how it also dehumanizes white people?
Could talking about that be a way into healing racial injustice?
Join us on Saturdays outside the Grand Army Plaza farmer's market for a compassionate, nonjudgmental conversation about how we can help dismantle structural racism through personal practices in our daily lives. Conversations take about 20 minutes, and expressly acknowledge the good intentions of most white people.
This project is just for white people? Isn't that kind of racist?
The only people who talk about being white are white supremacists and anti-racists. We're the latter. When white people talk to other white people with the express intention of dismantling racism, those conversations become a powerful tool for positive change.
How is a project that excludes people of color supposed to be anti-racist?
The project doesn't exclude people of color - a number of POC were key advisors as we shaped the project. You can see their names to the right. However, it foregrounds white people. Here's why:
Though many people of color are able to talk about this subject, they are busy creating their own liberation. Understanding and re-creating white culture is the job of white people. This project exists to help us do that work.
Many of us grew up liberal or progressive, and have striven to include the voices of people of color everywhere we can. That's important anti-racist work!
But white culture (which is experienced by many of us as just culture) promotes many subtle behaviors and expectations that serve to hold racial inequality in place - usually without our awareness. Unless white people can see - and actively challenge - how that works, it may actually be impossible to dismantle racism. And white people are best suited to help each other with that task, because we live with it every day.
Where did this project come from?
We are a group of artist/activists who have trained with the People's Institute For Survival and Beyond. This work is motivated by a strong call to action from our friends of color to "go get your people." The more we understood about how racism deprives all people - including white people - of our full humanity, the more we wanted to act. We are motivated by a desire to reclaim our own humanity, and in doing so, help heal racism for all.
As Malcolm X put it, "I tell sincere white people, work in conjunction with us, each of us working among our own kind...Let sincere whites teach non-violence to white people! We will completely respect our white co-workers."
White Conversations For Racial Healing is an artivist action developed by Jen Abrams, Gus Gauntlett, Amanda Murray, and Sara Roer.
Jen Abrams is a multi-disciplinary performance-maker, longtime member of WOW Cafe Theater, mother, and co-founder of OurGoods.org, a resource-sharing organization for creative people. Her last creative project can be found HERE. Her desire to work for racial justice is ultimately rooted in a yearning for all people to be able to be more authentically human.
Gustav Gauntlett is a Teaching Artist, basketball player, and community member in Sunset Park. He is part of the European Dissent White Anti-Racist Group under the leadership of the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, and loves using theater as a way to discuss racism, ultimately to break it down. Much love to everyone!
Amanda Murray has recently moved to the NYC area to pursue a career in acting. She has attended workshops and taken classes on intersectional social justice and is passionate about creating art focusing on stories that are often swept aside. She recently completed an internship with NYCFringe. Amanda is taking her first steps into the world of anti-racist work, and is both excited and nervous about where it might lead her.
Sara Roer is a dancer who's working as the rehearsal director/dancer for danceTactics by Keith Thompson and as a founding dancer with b3w (Emily Berry). She's also worn many hats at Brooklyn Arts Exchange since 2008, including Operations Manager since 2012, where the organization's mission is to treat every person as an artist in progress. Sara is also a Thai Yoga Bodywork practitioner. Her yearning for connection with other people and passion for the environment led her to prioritizing antiracist work in her activism. The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond continues to be a primary guide and inspiration.