Where White People Get Stuck

Where White People Get Stuck

I am writing this as a white person who sometimes gets stuck in my efforts to speak up about racism, cede control, pass the mic, and/or take action to dismantle white supremacy. If, as you read this, it feels like I’m pointing a finger at you, please know there are four fingers pointing back at me! We are in this together. Let’s talk about it. Let’s support each other to do things differently.

Do any of these sound familiar?

You are in a meeting, and something feels off. You can sense it in your body. Maybe you notice that your colleagues of color are shifting in their seats, subtly disengaging. You don’t know exactly what happened or what to do, so you don’t do anything, hoping that one of the BIPOC participants will speak up, or that the situation will take care of itself somehow.


Your organization has recently hired a BIPOC manager. At a staff meeting, this new hire points out how the way you have been doing things forever is actually discriminatory. You feel like this can’t be true, like the person just doesn’t understand. You want to argue. Maybe you do. Maybe you just sit silently feeling defensive and ashamed at the same time.


You are leading a group as part of your spiritual community, and another white person starts saying things that you find really upsetting and clueless in front of BIPOC members. You rush to interrupt them and set them straight, and afterwards, you feel overwhelmed by shame and confusion about whether you handled that the way you should have.


You are planning a conference with a multiracial planning team, and there is a lot of work to get done. As the date of the event draws nearer, you get really worried that things aren’t getting done, so you take on more and more tasks. After all, you have done all this so many times before, and some of the other members are less experienced. You are just trying to be helpful, right? So you work harder and harder, and the BIPOC members of the group pull back more and more, maybe even stop attending meetings.

You are not alone!

These are the kinds of situations we are unpacking in a series of “White Antiracist Practice Groups” here at Kirkridge.  Together we’re trying to look deeper to the underlying fear, shame, perfectionism, urgency, control, and other deep-seated spiritual issues that get in our way despite our desire to end white supremacy.  Each series meets weekly for six weeks, and participants are asked to commit to attending all six sessions if at all possible in order to cultivate trust, honor vulnerability, and practice accountability. Different six-week series will have different facilitators so that participants can benefit from a variety of perspectives.

These series are not reading groups. We believe it is vitally important that all of us engage with the work of antiracist writers, theorists, filmmakers, and artists of color; you can find a list of some of our biggest influences here. We trust that you are doing that work in other environments, but that is not where we will be focused. 

Instead, at the request of BIPOC advisors, we will be turning our focus to whiteness itself and how it gets in the way of our solidarity with Black, Indigenous and other People of Color, and ultimately, of our own full aliveness, how it even sometimes keeps us stuck reading and consuming more and more information about racism without doing actually changing how we relate to it.

This focus on whiteness is uncomfortable. Part of how we have been socialized into white supremacy is by internalizing a taboo around naming whiteness at all, much less acknowledging it as a problem. Those of us raised in liberal and even progressive environments are subtly taught that racism is a problem that we need to help other people with, people who are not white, and not a way of being that has us tied up in knots and disconnected from ourselves, our bodies, and the rest of the world.

Together, we are practicing breaking the taboo and looking at the truth. We are practicing not knowing everything in advance. We are learning to pay attention to the wisdom of our bodies and listening to the land. We are taking steps toward liberation even though we will inevitably make mistakes. 

Join us! The next series likely begins soon!

A group of six white people of various ages and genders; three sitting and three standing behind them.

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