“Our Liberation is Intertwined”

Based on the thinking of our teachers’ and leaders’ group, our Community’s one-day leadership and Community-building workshop last October focused on eliminating racism by having white Co-Counselors discharge in front of the group all day. People of the global majority had Co-Counseling sessions with each other.

I led the workshop, and twenty-eight people attended—roughly half people of the global majority and half white people. We met on the day that Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. What follows are a few people’s comments on the workshop.

Caryn Davis
Area Reference Person for
the East and West Villages,
New York, USA, RC Community
Staten Island, New York, USA

The work that white folks got to do in front of the group, and the lunch meeting with Ashkenazi Jews, people of the global majority, and white Gentiles, were “game-changers”1 for us all. No one gets left behind. Our liberation is intertwined.

Being a secondary counselor in A—’s session was powerful for me, partly because A— worked some on our relationship, but also because I understood something new about one of the less obvious hurts of racism: how people of the global majority have to believe misinformation about white folks in order to make sense of racism. To be a counselor for A—, as she bravely, honestly, and clearly laid out hurts related to racism, I had to fight against everything I’d had to tell myself about white people. I can’t express how hopeful it was—hopeful in the face of all the upset, despair, and mistrust that racism restimulates.

Tokumbo Bodunde
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Racism confuses us into thinking that some struggles are smaller than others. If white people want to end racism, they may end up thinking that as white people their struggles don’t matter as much as those of people of the global majority. You completely undermined that. What a powerful move against any notions of insignificance—and ultimately, racism. People of the global majority and white people must move their stuff2 together. Ultimately, racism is no more interesting than any undischarged chronic material.3 It’s simply distress we must move to have the connections and the world that we want.

Michelle Thompson
New York City, New York, USA 

I left hopeful that we can set things up so that white folks can work openly, and hopeful about how at this point we are truly led by people of the global majority and what that means and opens up for everyone.

Caryn, you were brilliant at being an ally to everyone all at once, and being both truthful and loving when counseling the white people on racism.

Tonight I talked with our fundamentals class about the importance of connection and discharge in being able to continue thinking in restimulating times, like the ones we are living in. Many people had figured out how to stay connected and keep thinking during the days after the hurricane. And what a difference the workshop made for me in how I went into the storm and its aftermath.

Karim Lopez
Brooklyn, New York, USA

I loved the risks you took, Caryn. Showing so much of yourself filled the room with hope.

Your focus on basic but super-important counseling tenets came at a critical point for me. These days I’m trying to find the courage to work openly and honestly on what feels like really ugly, mean recordings.4 It’s easy to forget that virtually all of what comes out of our mouths as clients is early distress. It’s important to remember to separate the present from the past.

Since your talk, I’ve been thinking a bunch about white identity. I’ve remembered something I read in my graduate studies about how white people were sold a false idea of privilege in exchange for abandoning their connection to people and their heritage. I can see how it could be hard for them to locate themselves in the world when they had to leave so much behind, or deem it insignificant.

Cesar Rodarte
New York City, New York, USA

What we did together on eliminating racism and anti-Jewish oppression, and building community, was based on the connection and commitment of the leaders’ group to each other and to the Area5 as whole.

Caryn, your taking time6 in front of the group at the beginning reminded us that we can be at the center of our own re-emergence in a bold, honest, connected way. Also, your reminding us that what we are working on is early distress, and that part of the responsibility for keeping track of that lies with the counselor, helped us to maximize the effectiveness of our sessions throughout the day.

Finally, I loved the work on eliminating racism. I was able to get a clearer sense of how I was hurt and felt crushed by racism early on. I can see how every bit of untangling the effects of racism goes a long way—in my thinking, my relationships, my leading, everything.

Chris Parkman
New York City, New York, US

1 A “game-changer” is a newly introduced element that changes a situation in a significant way.
2 “Stuff” means distress.
3 “Material” means distress.
4 Distress recordings
5 An Area is a local RC Community
“Taking time” means taking time to discharge with people’s attention

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00