A Healing Conversation: Unpacking Whiteness

Join in a critical exploration of “Whiteness”, and how it impacts our relationships with friends, colleagues, and the greater community.

Ashnie Butler and Jimmy Pete invite you to join in a critical exploration of “Whiteness” and how it impacts our relationships with friends, colleagues, and the greater community in which we live. We offer an opportunity to become clear and conscious about one’s participation in human suffering via this system of rank, privilege, power, and exclusion. This is a two-part series, starting with a contextual look at our personal orientation toward race and identity in this country. Our process moves towards getting in touch with our own humanity, and being in recognition of, and connected to the humanity around us.

A two-part workshop on unpacking whiteness:

  • Immigration History
  • What is your family history: when did they migrate here, what land did/do they live on?
  • Economic journey: what’s your family history of access to resources and wealth based on inheritance?
  • What is your family’s orientation/perspective on historical racial oppression in this country?
  • What will you do now in addition to reading articles and books?

Ashnie Butler has 15 years’ experience working with Theater of the Oppressed; and uses tools such as Non-Violent Communication and Courageous Conversations to engage individuals and organizations in strengthening their capacity to understand historical oppression and how white supremacy functions with individuals and organizations, supporting them on a racial equity journey.

Jimmy Pete brings over 30 years’ experience, offering expert consultation in Diversity and Inclusion, as well as Community Building for schools, nonprofit organizations, and businesses as an accomplished Trainer and Facilitator dedicated to cultural inclusion and healthier communities.

In preparation for the workshop, you will be given reading assignments and some questions for you to consider before participating in the workshops.

This is a two-part workshop.

  • Part 1 will be August 23, 2020 at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Part 2 will be August 30, 2020 at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Slots are limited to 20 spaces.

Cost: $275 for both sessions

Cancellation Policy: We are offering a 50% refund until August 16th. The proceeds of your canceled registration will go toward much-needed healing in the BIPOC community. Thank you for your support!

Click this link to register!

Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus Online: We Need Each Other!

by Ashnie Butler & Cheryl Harrison

Looks like we will not get to meet in person this summer, this would have been our 4th year being together for a couple of days learning, growing and having some fun, in Port Townsend WA. But, it’s not looking very hopeful right now that by summer we will have returned to “normal.”

Speaking of “normal” how many of us want to return to that “normal?”  You know the normal that marginalizes and seeks to destroy us at every turn; well not us!  This summer our plan was to deepen our work in understanding how as, BIPOC, we can be present for each other, how to support each other and more importantly, dismantle how we internalize harmful thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and stay trapped and perpetuate harm against each other.

In this current pandemic, we have the added traumas of yet another rising tide of anti-Asian bias, the ongoing fear of blackness with “masked” black men being stopped and arrested for protecting their health by wearing the now required masks, continued fear of BIPOC immigrants, many of whom are locked in cages, and ongoing lack of healthcare access for Indigenous people. In these COVID-19 times when the sustainability of these systems of inequity and systemic harms are being exposed for what they are: detrimental to us as BIPOC. We would benefit from taking a collective breath and work on shifting this paradigm to co-create a world that works for all. This present moment offers an invitation for us to “zoom” together and grow our understanding of how to better support each other.

We are ready for a new world that centers the needs of those living at the margins; voices of those of us most affected by structural and systemic and historical racism.  In Arundhati Roy’s article, “The Pandemic is a Portal,”  she asks us to look at what will we shed and what we will carry forward into this new world we are dreaming of.  Let’s help each other shed light on what needs to be transformed and what we need to deepen within ourselves.

We would love to meet you in small groups via Zoom, see each other’s beautiful faces and dream into a new world.  Using some experiential tools based on Theater of the Oppressed and adjusted to accommodate Zoom, we can both hear ourselves as well as each other speak into what this moment asks of us in order to heal ourselves and be available for each other. Forward together!

RSVP to our online event here.

Ashnie Butler is a long-time Mandala Center associate artist, living in Portland, OR, USA . She is also the founder of Inner Work, Outer Play, LLC – a Racial Equity-based facilitation and consulting organization. www.innerworkouterplay.com

Cheryl Harrisonis a long-time Mandala Center associate artist, living in Seattle, WA, USA. She committed to facilitating self-awareness and empowerment for individuals and communities as a means to create a world which values equity, understanding and compassion for all peoples around the world.

A Successful People of Color Caucus for 2019: Join us for 2020!

Just completed our third annual People of Color Caucus, and it was deeply rewarding. We spent two days together in the beautiful town of Port Townsend on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington
State. We traveled from South Carolina, Missouri, Berkeley, California, Seattle, and Portland to be together.

As promised, we only spent a few minutes on how whiteness from white people affects us, and the remainder of our time together we talked about how we participate in the system of whiteness. We unpacked how we deal with our internalized painful trauma stemming from colonization and white supremacy, keeping us from being our best selves and in a supportive community with each other. We laughed, we cried and held each other with care, respect, love, and support. Oh, and we had some yummy food to enjoy whenever we felt like it.

I deeply appreciate my co-facilitator and friend Cheryl Harrison on this journey. Her strength, openness and non-judgmental practice help create a strong container for us to see ourselves. Cheryl and I are committed to dismantling the path that white supremacy tells us we must follow and forge our
own ways of supporting each other.

We acknowledge the subtle ways in which whiteness shows up in our speech, how we keep ourselves down, how we use the same negative stereotypes that whiteness employs to harm
each other. We shared our stories and found healing and possible ways we can show up for ourselves and each other that reduces harm and supports courage. We engaged tools from Playback, Theater of the Oppressed and the teachings of Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams to support our time together. Oh, and you have to get on the train with Rev. Angel.

From her Black, Queer, Zen Buddhist platform she points to the truth of our existence and how white supremacy is choking us every day and the hope in self-reflection, disrupting, and dismantling systems of oppression! Check out the book she co-authored with Jasmine Syedullah, Ph.D. and Lama Rod Owens: Radical Dharma.

We hope you will join us next year for a deeper dive into self-healing and becoming a beloved community that holds each other in respect and love and support in all the ways we need it!

In Order to Create the World We Want, We Too Must Lay Down Our Weapons of Whiteness

Whoever we are, wherever we’re from, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are marginalized not simply because we are BIPOC, but because society says it’s okay to do so; none of us are inherently bad or worthless.

In our “People of Color Caucus”, we come together once a year (we know, not enough), look around the room and see reflections of ourselves and we may even feel a sense of relief – and somewhat safe – that we don’t have to deal with whiteness today!  Yes, we might find groups we can talk freely in, be quiet, be loud, be funny, eat the types of food we want to eat, play the types of music we want to play, and leave those spaces feeling somewhat refreshed. However, the effects of colonization and internalized oppression, those weapons of white supremacy, are always with us, because we’ve internalized them.  Most times we don’t even recognize when we are acting from those internalized places and as a result, weaponizing our behaviors towards ourselves and each other, making our actions harmful and painful experiences.

In the two days we’re together we will have time to hear from each other about difficulties we encounter as we walk through the world as a BIPOC. However, most of our time will be spent unpacking how we harm each other and exploring how to de-weaponize our actions. We are constantly trying to find places, teachers, support groups, etc., in our quest for personal growth and just when we think we have found a “safe enough” space we experience harm, and because it’s coming from another BIPOC it may feel even more painful. Sometimes it’s us triggering the pain by our own actions, or sometimes it comes from someone we are building trust with; either way it causes trauma, and the recovery time could be longer because trust gets shattered. How do we love, grow and support each other instead of aiming our internalized weapons of whiteness at each other?

We will bring our whole selves to these two days with you and together we will hold space to love and appreciate each other and share our lived experiences; this will create the conditions for us to grow even deeper into self-healing.

Gaining an awareness of how and when we weaponize our internalized oppression or when we use it against ourselves or each other is a vital step towards creating joy, peace, and love.  In doing so we will be contributing to the equitable, peaceful and just world in which we would love to live. We invite you to join us.

By Ashnie Butler & Cheryl Harrison

Register now for the People of Color Caucus: Internalized Racism workshop!

Click the link to learn more and register! The caucus is a highly experiential 2-day workshop for People of Color to explore how we can better support each other and thrive in the face of the white supremacy that surrounds us.

Original Link Here!

The Power of Affinity Space

Most of my life in this country has been lived in predominantly white spaces: my personal space, my workspaces, my social spaces. Navigating the sea of whiteness became my norm without even realizing it. It was difficult for me to see the waters that surrounded me, even as I did social justice work.

I had been doing social justice/anti-racist work for a long time before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. However at that moment, I witnessed the mass confusion, as white liberal/progressive Americans got a glimpse of what Indigenous, Black, Brown, and Immigrant communities have been saying continuously, even as a Black president was on his way out: racism was, and still is, alive and well.

I started facilitating affinity space (with people of color only) within a month of the elections and then on a regular basis. I realized what I needed more than anything was not having to “explain” my experience of being a person of color. Being validated for who I am, not censoring my communication, and sharing the traumatic impact that everyday micro-aggressions and systematic oppression have on my life with other people of color became my medicine.

For me, the result of the election brought an unfamiliar wave of feeling unsafe in predominantly white spaces. What I felt in those moments, and many moments after, was rage and frustration like never before as I witnessed the white liberal/progressive folks in my life recognizing that racism had led to the outcome of the elections. They grappled to let me know how non-racist they were (and still are), how much I should trust them, how much they cared for me. There were white women, who I had been trying to connect with in relation to my work and who would not return my calls, now reaching out to me to find out what they could do to make a difference. An overwhelming feeling of too little too late fueled my frustration and pain.

My adapting came to a screeching halt. My accommodating language and self-sacrifice so that white people could feel comfortable was dissolving before my eyes. Identifying and calling out how white dominance was at play in my workplace, cost me my job. Many relationships changed: they either disappeared or became distant. I realized that I needed to be with people who shared similar identities, skin color, and had lived experience of what it means to be a person of color in this country.

And while it is also true that we, as people of color, share similar experiences of being marginalized and oppressed, we don’t all share the same ethnic backgrounds and cultural norms. I learned stereotypes about other ethnic groups in the same ways white people learned them because that is the role of white dominance — to teach us to “other” each other, in order to keep us divided and dilute our power.

In affinity spaces no one is expected to trust anyone: slowly and tenderly we gain trust by sharing who we are without our walls of protection. Doing the tender and incredible work of building relationships in which we can see each other, and get to know each other, and love each other is medicine for the heart and soul.

As bell hooks writes in her book, all about love:

“To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients—care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication.”

I see these ingredients as making up the recipe that feeds radical self-love and a deeper understanding of how to love each other.

Using Theater of the Oppressed as a tool to facilitate deepening our conversation together is an invaluable gift. Being together using theatricalized games that lead to insights into ourselves and to see ourselves in each other while we laugh and cry together is so fulfilling.

The gift of holding space for fellow people of color is one that I am deeply grateful for in my life. I cherish the tenderness of witnessing us open our hearts and build connection and community across ethnic and cultural lines as it supports us in unpacking our internalized stereotypes about ourselves and about each other. The negative messages we learned from white supremacy and our families keep us separated and in pain and lacking community because it leads to us feeling isolated. Sharing those messages in affinity space allows us to gain multiple perspectives on any given painful moments. Having multiple perspectives is like gaining a superpower.

My belief is that Equity is at the heart of a just society. My mission is to create the conditions in which to maximize learning in affinity space. Through a collaborative effort, I seek equitable soluions. I approach my connections with joy, laughter, and self-preserving awareness to facilitate and advance equity.

Spaces still open. Register to attend…

JULY 8-9, 2019