Natasha Richards and Eleanor Kilroy
Flow n Flux is a discussion group which invites collective thinking and works to build a feminist community. Usually held once a month in Central London, like many others, due to lockdown we made the move to the now customary video conferencing platform, Zoom. With this relocation to the digital sphere, we carried a determination to maintain our ethos. Flow n Flux aims to cultivate a safe space to explore a different monthly theme through a selection of texts, videos, and/or music as stimulus for discussion, as well as exploration of creative participatory exercises.
Our June 2020 session was planned to be on ‘pornography and feminism’, however, the urgency to reorient the session became stark due to the tragic murder of George Floyd, a Black man from Minnesota who suffocated to death when a white police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
For many white people, who are not impacted by racism in daily life, the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and around the world have acted as an inescapable reminder that racism continues to be a global emergency.
Racism is structural, systemic, and institutional
As white women we exist within these structures, we benefit from them, we must be accountable and be active in an anti-racist pursuit to dismantle these structures. In terms of accountability, we feel that as two white facilitators of a feminist group that is predominantly white in attendance, that it is imperative to address white privilege and its role in structural racism.
For this reason, last Friday our session was centred around raising up the work of Black writers, advocates, artists, and activists to explore white privilege. Ahead of the online gathering, participants were implored to read an excerpt from Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I am no longer talking to white people about race (2017). At the beginning of the workshop we used the share screen option on Zoom to experience a performance of Kyla Jenee Lacey’s poem White Privilege (2020) via YouTube. These powerful resources were selected to initiate discussions and deepen awareness of structural racism, white supremacy and white privilege.
The session also involved creating a list of anti-racist resources (books, articles, social media accounts, mentorships, and charities) that have helped, and continue to help, ourselves and the participants to understand the far reaching impact of white privilege. The list, which can be found below, is not exhaustive, it is just a starting point, as education is infinite.
The participants created list poems under the stimulus “White privilege is…”. At Flow n Flux we believe that participating in creative activities can help individuals to unlock deeper reflection, and share thoughts with others in a safely distanced way.
An example of one participant’s poem.
With help from a guide we found on activist Jen Winston’s Instagram account (insta: @jenerous), we discussed strategies to help with talking to family and friends about racism. One of the techniques we explored in the workshop was writing a letter to a friend/family member regarding white privilege and racism. The idea is that by gathering your thoughts there is the potential to maximise the effectiveness of future discussions.
It is important to note that @jenerous is a white woman (as are we). Through her work she curates information on racism with white fragility in mind, so the burden of educating doesn’t continue to fall on and exhaust Black people everyday. Flow n Flux emphasises the importance of helping to shoulder this burden, however, we strongly believe anti-racism work must always prioritise the work of Black and Brown people. Proving the point that education is infinite, since the session we have found the article ‘How to talk to your family about racism on Thanksgiving’ by Black academic, writer and activist Rachel Cargle (insta: @rachel.cargle). Through her work, Cargle has provided an extensive list of resources and her article addressing family members regarding racism would be particularly useful for future sessions on white privilege.
For the last portion of the session, Mireille Charper (insta: @mireillecharper) ‘10 steps to non-optical allyship’ initiated a discussion about long-term strategies to effect change, these included education, conversational activism, monthly donations, work to decolonise the curriculum, mentorship and mindful consumption of the arts, media and goods.
There is so much more complex work to be done, conversations to be had and strategies to put in place. This workshop, and the compilation of the resources, is just a small step foregrounded by the knowledge that silence is not an option.
One participant very generously provided feedback on the workshop:
The session gave me the confidence to take anti-racist action and it provided me with the tools to have difficult conversations. Since the workshop, I have been able to approach businesses I have given my custom to and hold them accountable for how they’re supporting the movement. I have had an open and frank discussion with my family and have shared resources that were collated by the group.
In case it might be helpful for others who might want to run a similar group, we have shared our session plan below.
Flow n Flux | White Privilege Session Plan
- Introduce zoom etiquette and ground rules
- Check in exercise – One thing that you are hoping to get out of this session?
- Watch performance of White Privilege poem by Kyla Jenee Lacey
- “White privilege is….” : list up to 5 things on white privilege. Share as a whole group.
- Discuss excerpt from Why I am no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge in breakout rooms. Nominate one person to summarise discussions for the whole group.
- Over the break – in the chat box share anti-racist resources e.g. books, articles, podcasts etc. Inform the group that after the workshop the resources will be shared via google doc, giving the opportunity for more to be added.
- Conversational Activism: Why might it be challenging to talk to friends/family about racism? What solutions can you think of to overcome these obstacles? Discuss in breakout rooms.
- Share on the screen ‘How to talk to your family about racism: A guide for white people’ by @jenerous (Instagram) and discuss as a whole group. Future groups could draw from ideas presented in Rachel Cargle’s article ‘How to talk to your family about racism on Thanksgiving’ (this can be transferred to a UK context).
- Ask each member of the group to write a letter to someone (family member/friend/politician/stranger) about the things they would like to say to that person about white privilege?
- Share on the screen @mireillecharper (Instagram) ‘10 steps to non-optical ally ship’ and discuss as a whole group.
- Check out – each person to share one long-term strategy that they will move forward with to challenge racism and effect change.
Anti- Racism Resources
- Extract from Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race
- How to talk to your family about race on Thanksgiving https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a25221603/thanksgiving-dinner-conversation-how-to-talk-to-family-about-politics/
- McDonald, J. (2013) Coming out in the field: A queer reflexive account of shifting researcher identity*. Management and Learning. 44(2): 127-143.
- Hall, S. (1998) Aspiration and Attitude: Reflection on Black Britain in the 1990s. New Formations, 3: 38-46
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- White Teeth – Zadie Smith
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo – currently free as an audiobook on bbc sounds
- The Hate U Giveby Angie Thomas
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
- Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- Beyond education – Racial studying for another world by Eli Meyerhoff
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- Decolonizing the university by Gurminder k Bhambara
- Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi
- Black Britain by Paul Gilroy
- The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
- White fragility by Robin Diangelo
- Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
- The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
- The reorder of things: The university and its pedagogies of minority difference by Roderick Fergerson
- White privilege by Bhopal Kalwant
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward
- Dance Pedagogy for a Diverse World: Culturally Relevant Teaching in Theory, Research and Practice by Nyama McCarthy-Brown
- The end of policing – ebook free on verso https://www.versobooks.com/books/2426-the-end-of-policing
- Black Looks: Race and Representation by bell hooks
- Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks
- “surviving society” 2 phd students interview a different academic every week, focus is on anti-racism, centering black and POC voice https://soundcloud.com/user-622675754
- “busy being black” josh rivers, black queer people in discussion https://www.busybeingblack.com/
- Changes by Annie Mac with Candice Brathwaite about her new book I am not your Baby Mother
- gal-dem growing up
- Surviving Society
- 1619 by The NY Times
- I am not your Negro
- Whose Streets
- Fruitvale Station
- Dear White People (Netflix)
- The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson (Netflix)
- Explained: The racial wealth gap (Netflix)
- Get Out (Available to rent on Amazon Prime)
- Just Mercy (Amazon Prime)
- When they see us (Netflix)
- Travis Alabanza https://www.instagram.com/travisalabanza/
- Black Plays Archive http://www.blackplaysarchive.org.uk/
- Sounds – Raising the Bar: 100 Years of Black British Theatre and Screen https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/b06phflx
- Places to donate/petitions to sign – https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/black-lives-matter-how-to-donate-support
- UKBLM – https://www.gofundme.com/f/ukblm-fund
- George Floyd’s Memorial fund – https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
- Black Lives Matter – https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
- Anthony Walker Foundation – https://anthonywalkerfoundation.com
- The Stephen Lawrence Trust – https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk
Girls Out Loud
- Extensive list of resources by Rachel Cargle including templates for holding your academic Institute accountable, employer accountability, lectures on white feminism, how to talk to your family about race https://linktr.ee/1thatgotawayy
- ‘Justice in June’ – reading resources https://twitter.com/Autumn_Bry/status/1267549639827324928
- Petition – https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-suspend-uk-export-of-tear-gas-rubber-bullets-and-riot-shields-to-usa?recruiter=false&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial&recruited_by_id=f5f1c380-a56a-11ea-92d5-b7e8697b6dd1&utm_content=fht-22558188-en-gb%3Av2
- Teaching resources – https://www.runnymedetrust.org/currentPublications/teaching-resources.html
- Kehinde Andrews – He is a Black professor and he started the first Black studies degree at the university of Birmingham
- Petition to change the GCSE reading list – https://www.change.org/p/department-of-education-battle-racism-by-updating-reading-lists-at-gcse
This is the eigth in our Feminist Everyday Lockdown Blog Series. Lockdown is a feminist issue, and sharing stories is a feminist practice. We are calling for further contributions to the CHASE Feminist Network blog on everyday feminism and lockdown. This includes creative, political, and personal reflections! In light of the current political situation and protests against the physical and structural violence of racism we particularly welcome blogs from BAME individuals. Full details here
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.