Moving Forward Together

I’m in Fela Barclift’s Region—Brooklyn North, in New York, USA—in which we are all consistently working on racism and internalized racism. Fela leads the African-heritage Co-Counselors in working on internalized racism. Azi Khalili works with all the other people of the global majority on racism toward African-heritage people. I work with the white Co-Counselors on eliminating racism toward people of the global majority, at this point focusing on African-heritage people.

The white Co-Counselors meet with me on the phone for ninety minutes once a month. Every third month, all weekly classes are suspended and each of the three constituencies meets together in person.

I have asked my group to work only on white identity, even though we are diverse in class, gender, religion, and other identities. We have needed to keep pushing ourselves out of our targeted identities in order to gain awareness of being in the oppressor role.

We have been working on becoming a “gang” of white people getting closer to each other as white people. I posed the question, “What would it mean to truly like each other as white people?” We are valuing our relationships as white people, and many of us are developing them more quickly because of our work on eliminating racism.

As a result of our work together, I have been reading about issues related to racism and being white. As a group we now have more slack to read books and articles connected to the topic. We are becoming better informed about the history of racism and about racism in the present.

We are a “force of intelligence” as more people of the global majority come into RC. We are developing more slack for and accurate thinking about our beloved leaders of African heritage and all African-heritage people and people of the global majority.

In today’s call I asked the leaders to share two minutes of their latest thinking about eliminating racism. Here is some of what they said:

A—: I now see how isolation separates us as white people. I feel kinder toward people. Even when targeted by anti-Jewish oppression, I can be kinder toward the person.

B—: I see more people grappling with institutional racism. It’s exciting. However, non-RC discussions about racism don’t include what we understand—that we have to eliminate harshness and lack of connection from our relationships with other white people.

C—: I can now see how much our society is in denial about racism. It’s also true that some institutions are trying to address this, in small pieces. For example, a recent article in The New York Times highlighted how a new history text for the schools in Texas (USA) uses passive language to discuss slavery—as if there were no agents of the violence targeting African-heritage people.

D—: Teens and children more easily identify and speak up against racism. This is hopeful and helps me understand how racism works.

E—: I am reading about incarceration and have learned that sixty-eight percent of Black men born since the mid-1970s who dropped out of high school have prison records.

F—: I’m learning that white people’s harshness toward each other means that we are also harsh toward ourselves. We have to be tender as we reach for our young selves. I’m also clearer than I was before about the “purpose” of racism.

G—: These conference calls hold our group together. And consistently carving out this time keeps our awareness of racism from slipping away and not being in the forefront of our minds.

H—: I’m up against feelings of not wanting to keep meeting with the group. I feel pulled to work on another identity, one in which my people have been targeted. It’s hard to admit this and hard to work on it in sessions. Also, how do we as white reference persons lead people of the global majority, especially African-heritage people, without being “liberal”?

I—: After reading Rodney Coates’ new book, Covert Racism: Theories, Institutions, and Experiences, I have a fuller picture of the divide between Black people and white people in the United States.

Our group has reached a new level of safety and been able to work on heavier and more confusing material in part because our Region and all the Areas in it are steadily moving forward together on Goal 1.* 

Caryn Davis

Staten Island, New York, USA

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

* A goal adopted by the 2001 World Conference of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities and reaffirmed by subsequent World Conferences: That the elimination of racism, in particular the racism aimed at people of African heritage, be actively made an ongoing, central piece of the work of the Re-evaluation Counseling Community.

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