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We Are Winners Against Racism

I attended a workshop for teenagers and allies in the Nordic countries. Ten of us—four teenagers and six adults—were people of the global majority. It was the first time there had been such a big group of us. Twenty-eight of the participants were white. I came as an ally to support the relationships between the teenagers and their parents. It felt like an honor.

I soon noticed racism playing out1 among the teenagers. I could see it in the competition, who got to choose a room first, and people going silent. I pointed this out to another adult of the global majority. Then I talked to the leaders’ team (five people, all white). One of them, from my Region, had done a great amount of work with white people on ending racism. That made it a lot easier for me to point out the racism. I felt like I didn’t need to take care of the white leaders’ feelings as much. But I was scared, my legs were shaking, and there were two things I didn’t dare to say.

The following morning I told them I wanted to talk to them again. I addressed the two other things I had seen and shared my thinking about what could be done about them. They followed my suggestions.

Later I gave a brief talk to the women gathered for physical counseling2 sessions, which was one of the things I had suggested to the leaders’ team as a way for us to deepen connections and fight for ourselves. Then we split up into two groups—women of the global majority in one room and white women in another. I also talked to the allies, with a person of the global majority supporting me, about how racism was playing out and its effects on the people of the global majority—being silenced, backing away from what we wanted, and feeling discouraged.

These two things made a huge difference for the relationships between the global majority teenagers and the white teenagers and also for the adults. We all got much closer. The global majority teenagers took up more space directly after the physical counseling sessions and got to see that it’s possible to fight our way through internalized racism. I am proud that I trusted my mind, shared my thinking, and didn’t let the internalized racism silence me.

During the workshop I also met several times with the global majority adults, to build closer bonds. Most of us have known each other for many years, but this time I could take in that our relationships have reached the point where internalized racism won’t divide us. We are invincible; we are winners against racism. We have each other.

Sujata Maini

Stockholm, Sweden

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of South, Central, and West Asian-Heritage People

(Present Time 182, January 2016)

1 “Playing out” means being acted out.
2 “Physical counseling” is counseling in which a counselor, who has been trained to do it, provides aware and thoughtful physical resistance for a client to push and fight against.

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