a vision for multi-generational abolitionism
- for people who believe that the system of white dominance must be abolished and that white bodied children are important co-laborers.
- for those who want white bodied children to have a deepening understanding of how race operates in them and for them.
- a self-directed course that offers the first three legs of a larger framework for an unwavering white bodied abolitionist practice.
- filled with application ideas for white bodied people ages 3-125.
- directed toward white adults who influence white children (parent, teacher, auntie, grandparent, social worker, etc...)
If this resonates with you, read on.
We are about to get messy.
I have come to appreciate messy.
But it wasn't always like that for me.
I was a young adult when I first heard the proverb “begin with the end in sight”.
With this wisdom at my fingertips, I could will myself past current discomfort because I had a vision for where I wanted to end up.
Each winter of my childhood, my family would head into snow-covered woods in search of a Christmas tree. My mom would forge the way, shortening her stride so that we could step into her footprints and keep dry a little longer. Even when the going was tough, our shared history kept me confident that by the end of the day, our tree would offer memory, light, and the smell of the forest we had labored through.
This experience has played out many times in my life – my goal in focus because someone else forged the path and I believed that I could get there too.
When I apply this to my journey to abolish the system of white dominance, I’m left with discomfort.
My end goal is not in focus.
This hope I carry in my heart to abolish the system of white dominance does not have the luxury of a known path.
I believe this is why many white bodied adults don't take the first step when it comes to inviting their children, students, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, neighbors, and god-children to an anti-racist journey.
It's also why medical trials for diseases that ail children are so troubling.
We don't like the idea of experimenting on children.
But we cannot look to Black, Indigenous, and brown bodied children and place hand to chest in belief that they are resilient and still believe that white bodied children are not.
In the work that I do, I get to witness white bodied adults who are choosing to believe white bodied children are resilient. Who believe white bodied children must be included in the anti-racist collective. Who know that the unknown is messy. Who know that mistakes will happen. Who believe that white bodied children will heal from our errors and forgive us when we're wrong and keep trusting us when we invite them to hard places.
What they also have learned - often directly from the mouths of the white bodied children they are journeying with - is...
"I'm so glad we are talking about this"
In many cases, white bodied children want to be having more conversations about race.
No matter how much we are talking with them, I can almost guarantee they need more.
More because if we don't, we may be sending the message "you don't need talk about race" or "you don't need to be concerned with race".
Some of us may be doing this because we believe we are safety-making.
Motivated by our own unhealed wounds of childhood, we want something better for the children around us. Something without pain. Something without struggle.
Friends, this isn't safe.
The system of white dominance seeks to embed a story of race within each white bodied child in our nation. It needs to do this because if we, as white bodied people, stop believing the lies it tells, it will no longer yield the power it holds today.
If you are like me, you are waking up to this story as an adult.
It is painful. We look back at parents, teachers, family members, community leaders, and pretty much any adult we interacted with and ask some version of "why didn't you tell me the truth?"
The children who orbit around us will be asking us the same, unless we do something different.
Now is our chance to be unwavering.
Unwavering is part of a larger framework that serves as the basis for all of our courses and cohorts. The total framework has nine legs that form the journey of an unwavering white bodied abolitionist practice. You may not identify with this label and that's ok. Let me tell you what I mean by it.
I identify as white bodied because even though white is a socially constructed racial assignment, I am living in a body that this world says is white and I want to acknowledge the world I live in while moving toward the world I want to live in. I wouldn't put it past me to be wrong about this. It's just where I am.
I identify as an abolitionist because I believe that all systems of oppression should be abolished. It's the world out on the horizon that I can't fully picture but that I'm moving toward.
I practice because that is how I have experienced tremendous growth. If you love math, you know about exponents. If you are a parent, you know how quickly your pantry empties when children are on a growth spurt. If you have ever worked to become proficient in a sport, you know about muscle memory.
My white bodied abolitionist practice is my daily pursuit of a just world.
I am not the expert.
Rather, I’m offering you a framework that I believe will nourish, strengthen, and challenge us to become the people we say we want to be.
Within the Unwavering framework, you will be given tools for you to hold and tools to place into the hands of children around you. You will fumble together to learn how to use your tools. You will each learn. You will each teach. You will each root more deeply in a sense that we are in this together.
One of the biggest barriers to fostering a sense of belonging for white bodied children in an anti-racist practice is individualism.
Within white styles of parenting, teaching, coaching, and raising up children this barrier shows up quite naturally in the desire for our child to have the best. It's almost instinctive. I say almost because if it were biological, then it wouldn't be able to be changed.
But it can be changed.
You, as the adult in a white bodied child's life, can consider collectivism over individualism.
I believe we are actually wired for collectivism.
As we have lived within the system of white dominance, we have been conditioned for something that disconnects us from our core self and from each other.
These first three legs will help us move away from our social constructed ideas and help us walk each other back to the place our cells might call home.
The First Leg: Commit to a posture of learning
In this first leg, we will begin to develop a practice of learning.
This is the place where we celebrate curiosity. Look up words we don't yet understand and talk it through together. When adults work through this with children we are more apt to speak in terms they can understand rather than rely upon jargon that creates in-groups and out-groups.
This is the place where we have tough conversations. Admit to the children around us that we don't have the answer but we are willing to learn with them. Own that our fear kept us from bringing up this conversation as much as we wanted to...and needed to.
This is where we live out our values. I could interview the children around you today and they would tell me what you value. Values are directly linked to time. Children learn what we value by what we do together.
The Second Leg: Reclaim your story
James Baldwin says,
"One of the things that most afflicts this country is that white people don't know who they are or where they come from. That's why you think I'm a problem. But I am not the problem, your history is. As long as you pretend you don't know your history you will be a prisoner of it. And there's no question of you liberating me, because you can't liberate yourselves - we are in this together."
I have spent countless hours reclaiming my story and helping others do the same.
A tether-ball without a tether is just a ball. It will bounce all over the playground. Get lost behind a trash can. Be swept up in the wind and easily carried away.
But when it is attached to its tether is has a steadiness to it. It becomes rooted in purpose. It can be found every time someone is looking for it.
When white bodied people explore who we are and where we came from - it acts as a kind of tether to collective liberation.
One of the most disheartening behaviors among white bodied people is our fickleness when it comes to living committed to a practice of racial equity. Many of us still believe we have a choice of whether to engage this work.
Want a remedy for inaction?
Reclaim your story.
For example, when I move past an intellectual understanding of the data around the disproportionate advantages and disadvantages created by the GI Bill and contemplate my own family's participation and the trickle down effect of that singular (among many) government hand out that lifted my family above others, then my response becomes personal. Embodied. Tethered.
The Third Leg: Own your role
I hold the belief that white bodied people have the greatest responsibility to dismantle the system of white dominance.
If you resonate with that statement, then we have a lot of work to do.
I wasted so many years of my early anti-racism journey trying to be the good white person. I've fought with family and friends and positioned myself above so many. I've called out and torn down. I've behaved in performative ways while making things much worse.
Today, I believe that if we actually are going to dismantle the system of white dominance then white bodied people will have to learn how to really be a community.
We will have to learn the skills to repair relationships that are broken, reach the people we've given up on, create more on-ramps for those who haven't yet joined, find the common ground with people we feel at odds with, and gather with those who are most vulnerable to the lies white dominance uses to enlist white people for its cause.
These three legs are essential for our collective development.
When I talk with white bodied children, many of them are:
- completely unaware of the story of race being formed inside of them; or,
- under a cloud of shame about their white skin
Neither of these will lead to an unwavering abolitionist collective.
Fortunately, we can do something about it.
It will require that you are willing to transform.
You might be surprised to discover that Unwavering will speak to your transformation as well as help you get started or go deeper in your intention to walk together with white children.
This is intentional on my part.
Because, the truth is...
we cannot help others go where we are unwilling to go.
THOSE WHO ENROLL ARE WHITE BODIED ADULTS WHO:
- have committed to their own anti-racist or abolitionist journey
- are parenting or have influence with white bodied children
- are looking for ideas to introduce or build upon their efforts to help white bodied children make sense of their experience of race
- admit their own participation in the system of white dominance and are able to be vulnerable about that with children
- believe internalized white dominance has a negative effect on all white bodied people
- desire to be more effective in their anti-racist methods
- welcome the learning that comes from mistake making
- believe they can be part of the solution to the problem of white dominance
The content in Unwavering will remain accessible indefinitely and participants will have access to all future course updates as those are developed.
Course Outline and Schedule
Unwavering is a self-directed course designed to build a sense of purpose among white people to be part of the solution to one of the most lasting problems within our community - the system of white dominance.
Each leg of the course will include:
- an overview
- learning for you, as the adult
- an application menu with ways to grow for those 3-125 years old
- ideas specifically for educators (coming Fall 2020)
- questions and case studies that can be discussed and practiced with kids
- additional resources
- space for reflection
The emphasis of the course is to create a regular anti-racist practice in families and communities. Our lives are full. What fills them communicates our values to the children who are looking to us to model what we say we believe. Whether you are at the beginning of your journey or many moons in...there will be ideas to stretch you a little further.
Other, related goals include:
- Build belief that we can be participatory framers of a more just society
- Practice the skills needed to abolish the system of white dominance
- Spark multi-generational white abolitionist community
- Strengthen and challenge you to live in alignment with your stated values
- Offer a pathway for you to learn, in mutuality, with children
- Dethrone perfectionism and get you moving
- (And a lot more I’m sure I’m forgetting…)
Enrollment is open a few times a year. Check out the schedule here.
I hope you'll be joining us next time!
Enrollment is closed!
Unwavering will be open for enrollment again December 7-11.
Can you imagine what would happen if white-bodied families spent their winter break forging the first steps of an unwavering culture of abolition in their homes?
The price for this course is $129.
That said, this course is offered on a pay-as-you-are-able basis. Check out this page to help you decide how much to pay.
If you have any pre-enrollment questions, please email me and I’ll be happy to answer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are unwavering!