In 2019, we started having dinners with 8-10 white women at a time to discuss their racism and white supremacy. We weren’t there to talk about their racist fathers or uncles or husbands or brothers or Donald Trump. We were there to talk about them. More importantly, they were there to talk about themselves.
As Regina always says, “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”
Ergo, you cannot dismantle racism until and unless you acknowledge your own racism.
We named our company Race2Dinner and four years later, we’ve worked with hundreds of white women around the United States and Canada.
• Read our New York Times Bestseller White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How To Do Better.
• Watch our documentary Deconstructing Karen.
• Host a book club and/or watch party so you can discuss both with other white folks, together, in community.
• Join Race2Community, a workshop dedicated to divesting from whiteness, together, in community.
Here’s what we often hear.
What can I do?
It’s all so complicated.
I feel so overwhelmed.
I am exhausted.
I barely have time to deal with my job and kids, let alone fight racism.
I’m burned out.
We hear these refrains from white women at our dinners. You hear them too. All the time. In real life. Online. In movies. In books. The paradigmatic flustered, crazy busy white woman.
We’re here to tell you that the overwhelm is on purpose, manufactured by the trifecta of horrors: white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism.
If you are too confused, too overwhelmed, too tired to do anything to combat oppression, guess what? The oppression stays and gets stronger by the minute.
“Roe v. Wade overturned? I don’t even know what to do about that and even if I did, I don’t have the bandwidth to deal.”
“Our kids are being shot up here, there, everywhere? I don’t own a gun, I hate the NRA and I’m not an elected official. There’s really nothing I can do.”
“My racist in-laws are coming to town. I hate everything they stand for, what they say around my kids, but what can I do? They’re family.”
Any of these sentiments sound familiar?
White women’s inaction throughout history has brought us to this point, one where we are standing on the precipice of full-blown fascism. When you center and uplift the most marginalized, all boats rise. White women rarely center the most marginalized. They have always centered themselves and when white people center themselves, they are merely upholding white supremacy.
It’s time to do something DIFFERENT, both in substance and approach. Stop panicking about what you can’t do. There’s so much you can do – and you can start here.
- Acknowledge your own racism and allegiance to white supremacy. We know, we know. Being racist is the worst possible thing someone can call you, the dictionary definition of imperfect and white womanhood is one gigantic Hunger Games to be the most perfect. Acknowledging that you are racist would de facto get you killed in the race to white woman perfection. Forget all that. Our lives, as Black and brown women, and YOUR lives as white folks, depend on YOUR acknowledging your racism so you can DISMANTLE it. And psst – anti-racism work isn’t clean or linear, nor is there a right, or perfect, way to do it. Don’t get deterred.
- Speak up. Don’t be silent. If you see something, say something. You might not be the person in the room saying the N-word or whatever racial slur is being batted around, but if you don’t say something about it then and there, you are co-signing that hate speech. Yes, you are every bit as guilty as the person saying it. That means speaking up when your aunt talks about ghetto neighborhoods or the China virus. That means speaking up when your boss says something about Muslim terrorists or your co-chair at your kids’ school auction makes a joke about the Mexican kids. Speak up.
- Be prepared for a backlash. You’ll survive it. A few weeks ago, the head of a children’s hospital in Canada, a white woman, tweeted support of our book + film. That’s all. Fox News did an ENTIRE hit piece on her that was subsequently picked up by the global news media. You heard that right. A woman said she liked our work, and it became an international story. Whiteness is relentless. Challenging it makes white folks furious. Get ready for the backlash. We promise. You’ll survive it. And anyway, isn’t fighting for what’s right worth some heat?
You still might be thinking, OK, OK, but how, what are some concrete things I can do now, today, when my life is busy and attention spans are short? We hear you.
- Think of one instance where you recently were silent in the face of racism.
- Share it with a friend and ask them to do the same.
- Post about it on your social media, tag others, and ask them to do the same.
That’s it. Doesn’t take long. Won’t kill you. It just might save us. It just might save you.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Ruth Ann Harnisch of The Harnisch Foundation has generously offered to buy a copy of our book WHITE WOMEN from Third Eye Bag, a Black-owned bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Click here for your free copy from Third Eye Bag and share the link with your friends, family, and colleagues. Then join the Race2Dinner Book Club, where you can break it down together.
• We have all been indoctrinated into white supremacy.
• To dismantle white supremacy, we need to identify how we, ourselves, uphold white supremacy.
• Once we see it, we can change it. This is a daily practice.