Sitting with our Whiteness
Sitting With Our Whiteness is a series of interviews and portraits of white women who are, in some way, engaged in an antiracist practice. It is inspired by my own journey of understanding my white privilege and my choice to continue exploring ways of living beyond the limitations of whiteness. It is an attempt to demystify antiracism. This project is another way I engage in this exploration with others, continuing to build a support network that sustains my antiracism practice.
Earlier this year, I attended a virtual Playback Theater program specifically for white identifying folks examining white privilege and racism. One of the prompts given was the question, “How are you feeling, being in a group of all white people?” The woman who answered, let’s call her Mary, shared that she felt grateful. No one in her immediate community is interested in having conversations about whiteness and racism, and she feels alone in her process. I lit up. This was precisely one of the reasons I began Sitting With Our Whiteness.
Often this journey can feel overwhelming and lonely. This series of portraits and interviews, which will eventually culminate in a book, offers a sense of community and solidarity to others on this journey. The individuals in this project are all incredible, humble examples of regular people finding ways to infuse this necessary work into their lives. I hope that, by holding a book and reading their stories, by looking into their eyes in their portrait, the viewer can go within themselves and find a place of connection. Perhaps the words of these women will serve as encouragement - a relief to know a group of women who are doing this work, inspiration to join a book club or sign up for a workshop. Maybe they will fill a gap in someone’s immediate community and help them feel less lonely as they explore how to continue to examine their whiteness outside of a structured environment. This is difficult heart-work that can be a gift to us all if we allow our hearts and minds to open up to it. Will you join us in sitting with our Whiteness?
Meet the Participants
I want to thank each participant for stepping into a very vulnerable role of speaking about whiteness and antiracism publicly. Nearly every participant (including folks I reached out to who could not participate in this initial phase) expressed hesitation about participating. Together we questioned the source of this discomfort and discussed how we are all human, imperfectly existing, and continuously evolving. Concerns ranged from feeling like our antiracism work shouldn't be celebrated in this way because it is the bare minimum to the fear of facing criticism the next time we inadvertently say or do something harmful to a BIPOC. Ultimately, the women below have chosen to be brave and lean into a part of our antiracism practice: undermining the myth of perfection. You can read more about perfectionism and how it is a characteristic of white supremacy culture here.
To hear more excerpts from our conversations, click on the participant's image.