Dismantling White Culture at Resonate

This is a bi-weekly work and study session open to all.

It comes from the suggestion by some Members that Resonate must practice dismantling its own white supremacy if it is to fulfill the work of its manifesto.

These sessions are intended to be a place where this work is imagined and shared.

The work is not easy. While not situated within individuals, their feelings or their choices, structural change is intimately connected to personal vulnerability. Community healing and learning often come after individual experiences of pain and confusion. Repair from the trauma and toxic structures of our history requires care and patience like healing from any injury.

Participants should prepare to meet and hear each other with the generosity and vulnerability that patterns of new growth require.

Perhaps the guiding question is something like:

What practice of learning must Resonate and its co-operative networks make to serve as sites of high-functioning trans-national pluralism, solidarity and imaginative repair after centuries of conditioning in racialized and extractive political economies?

Original trigger for these sessions: White Supremacy Culture
by Tema Okun (10 mins)

Suggested starting place for June 2 Session:

GOOD WHITE PEOPLE: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism by Shannon Sullivan (SUNY Series, Philosophy and Race: 2014)
Introduction (first 6 - 10 pages, through footnote 15)
Open the free sample / ‘Look Inside’ by clicking on the book cover image at the link. Choose the kindle preview version.

This text may throw some light on the challenges posed within ‘Anti-Racist’ practice in the questions for the May 19 session.

(Text above shared by @richjensen. Please consider it a draft open to revision and comment.)

Starting place for May 19 session:

  • Read Tema Okun text with special attention to the section on ‘Right to Comfort’ p. 7.

Questions:

  • Can ‘Anti-racist’ gestures (like land acknowledgements) actually be a vehicle for maintaining White Supremacy, avoiding conflict, and comforting the beneficiaries of colonization and dispossession?

  • What would ‘leaning into discomfort’ look like as a practical matter for dismantling white supremacy in Resonate spaces?

Rolling Session Notes: Link

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By the way, I couldn’t be there at the previous session, will the next one also focus on this text? I feel like, despite the reading time being short, the questions adressed are worth a dozen meeting alone (and all probably would deserve further reading obviously).

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I cant speak for the group, but I could imagine we will touch on this text repeatedly, especially since this week it looks like we will hopefully have a few more in attendance. Hope you can join us!

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I wanted to put this note somewhere before I forgot. For anyone interested in more things to read and engage with I think that Reni Eddo Lodge’s book, “Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race” is a really good and important work. Here’s a link to an article she wrote of the same name: Why I am no longer talking to white people about race
Just wanted to throw this out to the group. I have read the book, but not the article. I wanted to recommend it before I forgot to share!

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Great piece. There’s also fundamental ignorance at the root of this. David Olusoga’s very well researched book

Is a great read… and also his experience of a backlash against so called ‘woke’ history

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Seem to have lost everyone. It froze… Will continue to try to log back in…

@Hakanto @KallieMarie @ryanprior My apologies for rushing the session. I see that the original call was for 90 minutes not 60. This seems like a much better estimate of the time that is necessary. I will be better prepared for that next time.

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Starting place for May 5 session:

  • Read Tema Okun text with special attention to the section on ‘Right to Comfort’ p. 7.

Questions:

  • Can ‘Anti-racist’ gestures (like land acknowledgements) actually be a vehicle for maintaining White Supremacy, avoiding conflict, and comforting the beneficiaries of colonization and dispossession?
  • What would ‘leaning into discomfort’ look like as a practical matter for dismantling white supremacy in Resonate spaces?

Rolling Session Notes: Link

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Great statement at the top of this piece about why this work is not a ‘BIPOC’ thing. (BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, People-of-Color). Published May 30, 2017.

On 22 February 2014, I published a post on my blog. I titled it “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race”. It read: “I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the existence of structural racism and its symptoms. I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us.

“This emotional disconnect is the conclusion of living a life oblivious to the fact that their skin colour is the norm and all others deviate from it.

“At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are “different” in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universal. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences the world in the way that they do.
>

illustration for long read by Reni Eddo-Lodge titled 'Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race'
‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ – podcast
Read more

“They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not to really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong.

“The journey towards understanding structural racism still requires people of colour to prioritise white feelings. Even if they can hear you, they’re not really listening. It’s like something happens to the words as they leave our mouths and reach their ears. The words hit a barrier of denial and they don’t get any further."

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Room is open.

Saw this today, reflecting on the comments. Lots of dismantling to do https://twitter.com/michellecyca/status/1525198115304636416

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Sorry to miss this week! I am in the middle of moving house… massive relocate. Hopefully I’ll see everyone at the next one and be at least available.

KM

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At the last session we established a kind of standing agenda for the sessions and spoke to the context for the initiation of this work at Resonate.

Today I’m hoping we can begin to outline a long-term, continuing process for learning to identify and work against white supremacy in our co-op spaces.

Here are notes for today’s session and the last one (May 5).

Session Notes

I’ll be there in 15 :sunny:

I’m suggesting folks take a look at the GOOD WHITE PEOPLE link in preparation for the Session June 2. Let’s also budget 30 mins to discuss other texts and references and perhaps begin the work of setting out a course of objectives and patterns for these sessions across the next few months.

Link to meeting above. All are welcome.

Rolling Session Notes: Link

Relevant: [seminar] Machine Learning and Education: Identifying and Mitigating Bias - #2 by richjensen

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Suggested reading from the June 2 session.

Often cited as the introduction of a critical “identity politics” and concepts of “intersectionality” (though the term is not used).

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The session was a sometimes clumsy conversation about being together, trust, time, labor, confusion and emotion. We considered Resonate’s journey from both a technical, software development point of view as well as that of planetary peoples caught in a genocidal system of value.

Tangent: Does the passion for projects like DAOs come from a desire to eliminate the messy, awkward parts from human interaction? What if that mess is the fertile soil of human being? Are there alternative strategies that build social capacity from this compost?

Context: Article shared by @psi at today’s session.

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Reminded of this question while reviewing this video of a recent performance by Baynard Woods reading from his forth-coming book INHERITANCE: An Autobiography of Whiteness at a local arts festival in Baltimore, USA.

Video: Baynard Woods reading from Inheritance at SoWeBo festival - YouTube (apologies for extractive link to an Alphabet Inc. property.)

For context and discomfort, here is a ‘thumbs down’ review of Baynard’s book.


Baynard’s topic reminds me of a book in the Black Socialists in America library that @zetto.plus recommended to me many moons ago: THE INVENTION OF THE WHITE RACE by Theodore W. Allen (1994).

A two volume set. It’s a fairly substantial work (lots of pages).

Would you be interested to read it with me in conjunction with these sessions over the next year? We could go at a pace of about 30 pages every two weeks.

Perhaps there are other readings of this nature that would preferable? Let’s discuss at the next session.

Suggested routine:

Greetings.
Discussion of a text or document.
Discussion that connects reflections to the specific work of dismantling white supremacy at Resonate. How can the work be taught?
Wrap-up: Announcements and next steps.

A question: Are you someone who would like to participate in live sessions but wish they were at a different time of day? Please comment in the thread. Perhaps accommodations can be made.

Here’s a really interesting presentation setting some context for the term “identity politics” and how alternative readings of The Combahee River Collective Statement have been weaponized to reinforce reactionary defense of the present social order of domination, exploitation and repression.

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