Eight Tools for Powerfully Dismantling Systems of Supremacy
General Assembly 2017 Event 426
This workshop provides tools for white individuals and predominantly white organizations to begin to powerfully dismantle systems of supremacy. These tools are designed to guide white people in self-education and recovery from our inevitable errors, with a goal of sustained accountable relationship with marginalized communities and people while reducing harm.
- Rev. Julie Taylor
- Drew MacFadyen
Download PDF versions of these handouts, or read on for their full text, below.
- Welcoming vs. Othering: Basic Intercultural Hospitality (PDF)
- Antiracist Checklist for Whites adapted from Dr. John Raible’s (2009) (PDF)
- Resources from This Workshop (PDF)
Welcoming vs. Othering: Basic Intercultural Hospitality
Say this: Q: Hi, I haven't met you, my name is...
Instead of: Q: Hi! You must be new.
Say this: Q: Welcome!
A; Hi, I just moved here from Chicago.
Q: I love Chicago. I'm from Portland. I moved here for a job. What brought you here?
Instead of: Q: Where are you from?
Q. No, I meant, where are you really from?
Q: (keeps going until visitor claims a foreign ancestry)
Say this: Q: What a lovely necklace. Is there a story connected with it?
Instead of: Q: Your hair is really cool. Can I touch it? (or worse, touch without asking)
Say this: Q: Is there any kind of group I can connect you to? We have a wide variety!
Instead of: Q: Come meet our other transgender person!
Say this: Q: What lovely children! May I introduce you to our Director of Religious Education?
Instead of: Q: They don't look like you—are they adopted? Are they your real children? Did you use a sperm donor?
Say this: Q: What did you think of the worship service? I loved the story.
Instead of: Q: What college did/do you go to? What do you do for a living?
Say this: Q: Please let us know if there's anything we can do to make your visit better.
Instead of: Q: I see you have a disability, here let me help you.
Some More Tips on Welcoming
Reflect on what calls you to be welcoming to all who enter your congregation. What faith value are you practicing?
Greet everyone who comes though the doorway, not just new people.
Enjoy the gifts found in inviting and listening.
Notice when you make an assumption and intentionally set that assumption aside.
Remember everyone has multiple identities and refrain from focusing on any one identity you notice or assume.
Ask open ended questions and respect people choosing not to answer.
Refrain from asking personal questions, including theology. People will reveal what they are ready to reveal.
Let the guest take the lead!
Start a conversation from a shared experience-like the morning's worship.
Find language that is inclusive including language that doesn't assume all children have a mother and a father or live with their parents, or everyone is either a man or a woman, etc.
Forgive yourself for any blunders or awkwardness. Apologize if needed and accept being human.
Help spread these practices-inviting, listening, rejecting assumptions-throughout the congregation.
This is just a step. There is always more ways we can become more welcoming and inclusive.
"In our hands is the power to craft a compelling narrative of extraordinary respect…of welcome and transformational community for our Unitarian Universalist present and future."
—Rev. Alicia Forde
Antiracist Checklist for Whites adapted from Dr. John Raible’s (2009)
Take the pre-workshop assessment online. The assessment is also part of this document as a resource for you to use after the workshop.
- I demonstrate knowledge and awareness of the issues of racism.
- I continually educate myself about racism and multicultural issues.
- I recognize my own limitations in doing antiracist work.
- I raise issues about racism over and over, both in public and in private.
- I realize “it’s not about me.” I avoid personalizing racial issues as they are raised in conversation.
- I can identify racism as it is happening.
- At meetings, I make sure antiracism is part of the discussion.
- I can strategize and work in coalition with diverse others to advance antiracist work.
- I attend to group dynamics to ensure the participation of people of color.
- I support and validate the comments and actions of people of color and other allies (but not paternalistically).
- I strive to share power, especially with people from marginalized groups.
- I take a personal interest in the lives and welfare of individuals of different races.
- I use my position as a white “insider” to share information with people of color that they may not have access to.
- I hold high expectations for people of color and for white people.
- I reach out to initiate personal contact with people of different races.
- I listen carefully so that I am more likely to understand the needs of people from marginalized groups.
- I understand enough about people of color’s perspectives that when relevant, I can share these perspectives when people of color are not present.
- I can accept leadership from people of color as well as from white people.
- I work side by side with people of different races on tasks, projects, and actions.
- I debrief with people of color to give and get “reality checks” and affirmations after meetings and interactions.
- I readily accept—with no explanations or “proof” necessary—a person of color’s position or perception.
- I can be present emotionally when individuals need to express feelings about racism.
- I discuss race and racism with both whites and people of color, and in these discussions I take people of color’s perspectives seriously.
- I take risks in relating to people across lines of difference.
- I demonstrate shared values with people from various communities, for example, impatience with the pace of change, anger at injustice, etc.
- I know the private lives of families and friends who are people from different backgrounds.
- I can relax, socialize, and feel at ease with people of color and with whites.
The following are some problem areas where individuals sometimes get stuck. These were developed specifically for white individuals. Do any of these apply to you?
- I am not clear on the labels people of color prefer to use to identify themselves.
- When people of color point out racism as it is happening, I feel personally attacked.
- I rely on people of color for education about my own (and institutional) racism.
- I use meeting time to establish my antiracist credentials (e.g., recounting stories about how I “marched in the Sixties” or about how many friends of color I have).
- It is important to me to point out examples of “reverse racism” when I see them.
- I have been told I act in a racist manner without knowing it.
- I speak for people of color and attempt to explain their positions.
- I view myself as a mediator between people of color and other whites.
- I see my role as interpreting the behavior of people of color for other whites.
- I prefer to spend time and energy dealing with my personal feelings and issues rather than moving the antiracist agenda forward.
- I intellectualize about the struggle rather than live it daily.
- I wait for people of color to raise white people’s awareness.
- I know fewer than five individual peers of color intimately (i.e., adults, not children, or family members, or employees, or co-workers).
While a checklist may seem simplistic, many will find that these guidelines are very difficult to put into action and take on-going commitment and practice. We will make mistakes but cannot give up.
Dr. Raible explains his list by stating, “The main goal is to develop relationships of solidarity, mutuality, and trust, rooted in a praxis of intentional antiracist thought, action, and reflection. When I observe people consistently taking the above steps (in Part 1), I recognize that they ‘get it’ when it comes to race and racism.”
Resources from This Workshop
- Worship Overview: White Supremacy Teach-In
- Decentering Whiteness Worship Webinar
- Multicultural Welcome: A resource for greeters in UU congregations (PDF)
Articles or Links
- Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves - Robin Diangelo
- Antiracist Checklist for Whites Dr. John Raible (PDF)
- Social collective for white people, by white people that aims to promote white racial literacy
- Examining Whiteness: an Anti-racism Curriculum
- UUA Multicultural Leadership and Inclusion
- Challenging White Supremacy Workshop resource page
- What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege
- Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person
- White Privilege Podcast
- Interracial Jawn
- BLUU on The VUU
- Whose Faith Is It Anyway?: A BLUU Multi-Faith Online Event
- Ferguson & Faith - Leah Gunning Francis
- Waking Up White - Debby Irving