I’m a co-founder of the White Noise Collective, an anti-racist feminist collective that offers:
Introduction to the Intersection
This is a “102-level” workshop designed to support those newer to conversations of racism and sexism in understanding the intersection between the two. It is open to all, but specifically developed to support people who are exploring the ways we have benefited from white privilege while also experiencing gender(ed) oppression. We will create shared definitions and use writing, art and group discussion to support each of us in a deeper exploration of the complexities of our intersecting and unique layers of socialization, current and historical survival strategies, costs of maintaining the system as it is, and ways we can commit to interrupting systems of oppression and subverting the ways we have been conditioned to behave.
Drawing our inspiration from generations of anti-racist white women, we will explore how internalized sexism and white supremacy impact our work for racial justice. This is an intermediate-level workshop and we expect participants to have some working knowledge of systems of privilege and oppression. Through dialogue, interactive exercises, presentation, and Theater of the Oppressed activities, we will collectively investigate patterns common among people socialized as both white and female, and how they may show up or limit the potential of our anti-racist work. We will also use critical media analysis and discussion to look at the historic and current mythologies of white women as virtuous victims that are used to justify violence against people of color and co-create strategies for countering them.
In this intermediate-level, interactive workshop, the White Noise Collective will lead a guided exploration of what Paul Kivel terms “the buffer zone”, a range of jobs and occupations that structurally serve to maintain the wealth and power of the ruling class by acting as a buffer between those at the top of the pyramid and those at the bottom. With a focus on how people socialized as white and female have occupied and represented this terrain, we will dynamically interweave examination of systemic analysis, historical patterns, iconic images, and our individual participation and insight. Drawing from Kivel’s analysis, the buffer zone serves a threefold function: taking care of people, keeping hope alive, and controlling people. How are white women socialized to fit into helping and caretaking professions that maintain the status quo, and what potentials and models exist for subversion within the buffer zone to shake the system towards greater equity and justice? This workshop will include dialogue, Theater of the Oppressed exercises, mini-lecture, and experiential activities to bring this structural analysis alive.
White Females in Food Justice: Maintaining or Challenging the System?
Are you passionate about food justice? Do you work at, volunteer at, or otherwise support a food justice organization in your neighborhood or community? Do you sometimes question if the food justice work you are involved in is only a band-aid solution to deeper, more systemic problems? In this interactive workshop, the White Noise Collective will lead a guided exploration of what Paul Kivel terms “ the buffer zone”, a range of jobs and occupations that structurally serve to maintain the wealth and power of the ruling class by acting as a buffer between those at the top of the pyramid and those at the bottom. The buffer zone serves a threefold function: taking care of people, keeping hope alive, and controlling people. In this workshop, we will question to what extent our involvement in the food justice movement (in all its forms: food security, food justice, and food sovereignty) exists in the buffer zone. We will focus on how people socialized as white* and female** have occupied and represented the buffer zone, especially in food justice work. We will dynamically interweave examination of systemic analysis, historical patterns, and our individual participation and insight. How are we as white* females** within the food justice movement maintaining the status quo, and what potentials and models exist for subversion within the buffer zone to shake the system towards greater equity and justice?
*white → interpreted as anyone who identifies with having light-skin or white-skin privilege
**females → interpreted as anyone who identifies with experiencing gender(ed) oppression
Spirituality and Cultural Appropriation
When white people practice yoga, Native American spirituality, Buddhist meditation, West African drumming, or other spiritual practices from non-European cultures, what are the impacts? As Jarune Uwujaren points out in The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation, “we have a responsibility to listen to people of marginalized cultures, understand as much as possible the blatant and subtle ways in which their cultures have been appropriated and exploited, and educate ourselves enough to make informed choices when it comes to engaging with people of other cultures.”
Coming from a stance of curiosity, this workshop is offered to develop a shared understanding of cultural appropriation and its diverse impacts, directly informed by voices from Native and POC communities. We will explore common patterns, effects on the group/culture of origin and why this topic is so highly charged with meaning. Through dialogue, engagement with written and video pieces, and creative activities, participants will be invited to consider our own histories and the meaning of cultural material in our personal spiritual paths, as well as how relationships, power and historical context can inform this critical conversation. We’ll end with some tools and questions to guide and support more ethical relationships with other cultures’ spiritual traditions and to develop intervention strategies to reduce harm on both individual and collective levels.
How do we approach the challenging conversations in our lives, whether it’s about confederate flags, cultural appropriation, Palestine/Israel, or even just racism and racial justice in general? At the end of every year, the White Noise Collective has offered a difficult conversations dialogue to support people who will be reuniting with family, old friends and different communities for the winter holidays. And there is never enough time to fully practice.
This workshop is an opportunity to dive in much deeper with structured time to practice a range of difficult conversations around highly charged racial issues. We will be sharing some basic skill-building tools in how to approach conversations, and then explore scenarios relevant to the lives of participants. This will include examination of some of the ways that internalized sexism can impact our courageous speaking capacities. Small group work, role-plays, and Theater of the Oppressed techniques will support seeing tough communication blocks in a new light. We’ll try out what feels challenging, in a relatively low-stakes and supportive environment, allowing ourselves time to debrief, reflect, and learn from each other.
Exploring & Transforming Internalized Messages of White Privilege and Gendered Oppression
The Role of “White Womanhood” within Systems of Violence
#BlackLivesMatter has generated a movement moment that is visibilizing the destruction that state and police violence have on communities of color and is articulating how white silence and white complicity maintain these systems of violence. In this workshop with the White Noise Collective, we will explore specifically the narrative of white women* in upholding systems of violence–including the roles and complicities of white women in these systems. We will also examine the ways that white female socialization coupled with personal experiences of violence and trauma create barriers for white women to dismantle systems of violence. This workshop is a continued exploration of new themes and curriculum for the White Noise Collective, designed directly from our experiences in this movement moment, and situated within a longer historical context. This workshop is offered at a more intermediate level, assuming that participants have a working understanding of privilege, oppression, and socialization.
Both days will use large and small group dialogue, individual journaling, video clips, and movement-based activities. In Day 1, we will explore together the socialization of white women in society, and the ways that these expectations live in us* and through us (no matter how we negotiate our relationship with this socialization). We will create space to explore our own experiences with common patterns of white female socialization that uphold systems of violence, including but not limited to the virtuous vs. deserving victim narratives, the white savior complex, white women’s tears, cooptation by white women in restorative justice movements, and/or the centering of whiteness in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Day 2 will be focused on developing subversion strategies, through a lens on both internal and external strategies.
Contribute to our collective learning! A participant-member of the WNC is completing a research study for the completion of a Master’s in Social Work degree from Smith College in collaboration with the WNC; your participation in this workshop contributes to that research study. Participants will be asked to sign a confidentiality form and will remain anonymous.Participants are asked to bring their personal experiences of white fragility and resilience to the workshop to share in collective and personal reflection. We will explore the role of the body, community, spirituality, intellectual knowledge and other themes that you bring from your experience. We will cover basic information about how the brain and body responds to perceived threats, and explore how to work with this toward greater resilience in moments of challenge.White Fragility is defined by Robin DiAngelo as “A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation (2011).”For the purposes of this study, resilience would be demonstrated by:
- Staying with the conversation
- Giving and receiving information and feedback from facilitators and peers without becoming highly defensive, reactive, or shut down/dissociated for long periods of time
- Managing the guilt and shame that can arise in learning about the history and current reality of race and racism in the USA