Discussion Group Opportunity
Since 2001, the Y.W.C.A. has been sponsoring discussion groups as part of its mission to eliminate racism. The program framework is drawn from a book by Shelly Tochluk entitled Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It.
Witnessing Whiteness groups are people who identify as white who come together to learn about racism in a supportive, non-threatening setting. The program includes learning to speak about race and racism, and learning how to ally with people of color (and other white people).
The groups have trained facilitators to encourage and support the discussion. Groups meet for ten, two-hour sessions, one for each of the nine chapters in the book, and a final session to reflect and look forward.
The work of the groups is related to, but not the same as the book’s text. Participants consider their own lives in light of what they are learning, with the discussion configured to foster interaction.
The WW groups strive to:
- Invite participants into a community of other white people committed to positive change in their lives, workplace and region.
- Provide a loving and healing atmosphere to learn about and improve one’s understanding and skills about one of the most difficult topics in our country today: race.
- Gain understanding of the intersections of race and various economic, governmental and social systems.
- Understand and practice interrupting racism; learn to use skills to act as agents of change, information, and sharing in the local community and region.
Using the book as a reference, group members explore:
- History and construction of white racial identity.
- Community building within white spaces.
- White culture and values – and how our national culture reflects and largely rests on white culture, practices and values.
- Manifestations of white supremacy and privilege.
- Cross-racial communication, conflict management, and relationship building.The curriculum committee set up by our Grant Project Steering Committee has arranged for a Witnessing Whiteness group to meet here at our church on Sundays, either 4:30-6:30 or 6:00-8:00 p.m. Those registering for this series will choose the class time. The meeting dates are: August 20 and 27, September 10 and 24, October 8 and 22, November 5 and 19, December 3 and 10. If there is enough interest, we plan to offer the class again next year.
To ensure that we are included in the fall schedule at the Y.W.C.A. and have a group meeting here at First Church, we need 15 to 25 members to sign up for this program now by May 23, so the curriculum committee can complete these arrangements.
There is no cost for the class, but each participant needs to acquire a copy of the book, either eReader or print. A local bookseller, Left Bank Books, offers a 20% discount on the book. Use http://www.left-bank.com/book/9781607092575 to order, which is hard-coded to take the 20% discount at checkout. You can pick up your copy after an online purchase, or it can be shipped to you for 99 cents.