evening group to discuss Layla Saad's Me & White Supremacy


Margaret McCasland
 

We will have our first meeting this Sunday September 12 at 7pm.  Please email me for the zoom link, for other materials, and/or if you have any questions.

We will meet either Sunday or Thursday evenings, probably twice a month (perhaps 3-4 times, but never the first week of the month). These and other details will be decided at this first meeting. I am convening the first session, and getting guidance from others in Ithaca MM re: organizational approaches. We will rotate the facilitation of each session.

Here is my proposed agenda for the first session only. Below that are links to the Circle Way website and a pdf version of "Me and White Supremacy" for those who do not have the book. After the first session, our group will focus on discussing the queries, and it is most useful if people have read the sections of the pdf and the book up to the queries before this first session.

AGENDA: 

  1. Things to decide

--The Circle Way or other approach, including rotating clerk/facilitator

--Community agreements (see background below)

--Day: Sunday or Thursday?

--Times (7 pm? 7:15? 7:30?  until 8:30?  9 pm?)

--Frequency?  (we had discussed biweekly, but it could be weekly, other than first Sunday or Thursday of the month)

--How much to cover per week? One day’s topic per meeting? With 28 topics, this would take over a year, but we would have time to consider each topic/query in depth (the other group is meeting weekly and covering two topics per week).

--Community agreements and possible Zoom tools: eg, on-line versions of “ouch, whoa and oops”.  (See notes at the end)


  1. Introducing ourselves

Before we get started on the materials from Layla Saad, there is some preparation I would like to suggest, based on workshops I have been in on racism, and on experiences in other workshops where racism came up. The following two queries are only suggestions, and we can decide whether people feel it will be useful to discuss them during our first session.

    None of us like to see ourselves as racist, or to be seen as others as racist. But talking about our relationship to white supremacy can make us feel guilty and/or defensive. I have noticed two ways that European Americans (including myself) often defend or explain ourselves in group discussions of racism or white supremacy in ways which derail the purpose of the discussion. The first is to talk about our personal history with discrimination. The second is to share our “bona fides,” to make sure people know "I am not racist" by telling them how much I/we have done for civil rights, against racism, etc. 


Re: our personal history with discrimination: I first found this in myself and the rest of our study group when we were reading “Waking Up White,” perhaps 5+ years ago: we spent more time talking about our own class and ethnic backgrounds than in answering the questions in the study guide. Similar things happened a few weeks ago in a multi-racial Quaker conference where the comparability (or lack thereof) of discrimination among European Americans based on ethnic groups to discrimination against People of Color diverted the discussion away from structural racism and also resulted in two European American Friends using language offensive to People of Color who were present.

In our own lives, we all have been discriminated against, probably in more than one way, due to class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. For many of us, the impacts have been very deep, and affected us in many ways. However the various ways in which we European Americans have experienced discrimination is not the point of this study group, so I wonder if initially acknowledging our own experiences will both build empathy among us for the many ways discrimination impacts people and also help us keep the focus on exploring our relationship to white supremacy as we work through Layla Saad’s material.

Name (without describing)  2-3 ways you have been discriminated against; briefly describe the event or form of discrimination which was hardest.


Re: sharing our personal history with anti-racism (AKA “bragging”): During lockdown, I watched “Dear White People” and learned this is called “virtue signalling.” A closely related tendency for well-meaning white people is called “being performative.” A third term I learned in the last couple of years is "white saviour". Once I had names for these behaviors, I got better at recognizing when I do them.) 

We are all here because we care about ending racism, and we are all old enough we have probably done some pretty fine things in the past. While what we have done or are doing to dismantle white supremacy is not the reason for this study group, this is part of who we are, so let’s share some of our better selves during the first session, so we won’t feel the need to bring it up as often as we work through the book.

Name (without describing) 2-3 things you have done to help end racism/dismantle white supremacy; briefly describe the one you are proudest of.


Here again are links to the background info:
    link to The Circle Way:  http://www.thecircleway.net/
    link to pdf and comments from Nancy RIffer:
This is the document that has descriptions of the concepts and questions. If you are going to use this, I encourage you to copy the questions onto separate pages in a notebook you use to journal. I find that having all the questions together I am tempted to "cheat" and write about the topic in general rather than examine each aspect she focuses on.

The book, Me and White Supremacy has longer descriptions of the ideas and somewhat different questions. There is also a journal that goes with the book. It has the same questions as in the book with a page to answer each question.

If you use the online document, you will get much of what is in the book and it is certainly challenging.