As practitioners of the Dharma, as long as race exists as an aspect of being and society, we are obliged to examine it. – Greg Snyder
I learned about Awakening to Whiteness the day before the program orientation. For years I had wanted to better understand race issues, disparities, and injustices. As a white millennial raised in a Portland suburb, I hadn’t sought out relationships or education beyond those readily available to me. My experience and knowledge of racial issues were limited. After all, Portland is the whitest major American city per capita.
As the facilitator described the program format and content to me – monthly small group discussions based on assigned readings and videos – I was immediately intrigued with such a unique opportunity. Going into the program I didn’t know exactly what to expect but I was eager to participate.
During the program, our small group of five formed a strong connection based on a shared commitment to learn more about America’s racial landscape. We created a safe space for each other to explore and question program materials. When it was my turn to speak in the small group meetings, at first I felt reluctant to talk about problems when I couldn’t offer solutions. It was uncomfortable to discuss racism when I understood relatively little about such a broad and complex subject. Over time I felt more comfortable discussing white privilege and its impact.
At the final meeting each of the 50+ participants shared how they were deeply touched by the program and committed to continuing with what they’d learned. Indeed, Awakening to Whiteness is the year’s most impactful social justice experience for me. The readings and videos were challenging, thought-provoking, eye-opening, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, moving, and inspiring. What I learned shifted my thinking about current events, added layers to my relationships with people of color, and increased my personal responsibility within race issues. Because of the small group practice, I’ve been able to engage in conversations with friends about racial profiling and the Charlottesville protests.
Throughout the experience I had a sense there was something more to come. I’m writing this one month after the program’s end, and I miss having a forum to learn about the injustices and oppression endured by large swaths of our population. I miss guided opportunities to acknowledge and challenge habits of speech, thought, and feeling. I miss exploring and evolving in a supportive group setting. In the space once filled by readings and meetings, there’s a new desire to contribute to the movement that birthed this powerful program. I feel awakened, and carry with me the momentum toward a more just, caring, kind and inclusive world.
What is it?
White Awake is an open-source curriculum designed to combat white
supremacy by focusing on educational resources and spiritual practices
to support white people’s engagement in the creation of a just and
White Awake is structured as an “affinity group” for white people to
explore the elements that have contributed to this often unconscious
identity. We explore how our own liberation is intimately bound to one
another and why individuals in marginalized groups have identified the
need for white people to do this work together. Affinity groups are one
way to lay groundwork to enlarge our understanding and prepare us
to build authentic relationships and alliances with people of the global
When is it?
A Series of Monthly Sunday meetings from 3:30 – 5:30pm
Oct 15, 2017 – An open meeting to explore the process. If you plan to
come to the first meeting please read:
The next six meetings are for those who can commit to attendance and
Next meetings: Nov 12, Dec 10, Jan 14, Feb 11, March 11, April 15