“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Beyond the Culture of Separation is leading a transformation in the way white people engage in the work for racial equity and racial justice. For decades, the primary focus of white antiracism has been on the interpersonal and institutional harm experienced by members of racially marginalized groups and on the need for white people to address their own racial biases and blind spots. Building upon this work, BCS brings an explicit focus on the insidious nature of the internalized culture and behavior of whiteness and how these social processes uphold white supremacy**.
BCS helps white-identified people cultivate greater awareness of the harmful and oppressive aspects of their whiteness and the ways in which they can work to shift them. We offer participants practical and emotional tools they need to confront the racism implicit in themselves and the systems they’re part of, and to do so with mindfulness and compassion. The embodied experiences we provide leave participants connected and inspired to engage collectively and sustainably in this vital healing work.
BCS primarily works with all white groups because we believe we have a special responsibility to educate ourselves about racism and how it lives within us without depending on people of color. In addition, exploring our whiteness with other white people allows participants to work through feelings and experiences that might otherwise be censored or cause harm. We work together with the intention of decreasing harm and being a proactive part of transforming systems.
BCS embraces innovative and interactive learning modalities to empower participants to take an authentic and compassionate stand against white supremacy in themselves, their workplaces, and their communities. Because the body and emotions are deeply implicated in these processes, the BCS approach engages the whole person, body, mind and spirit. Because white culture implicitly fosters shame and isolation, BCS promotes an atmosphere of mutual encouragement and trust. Finally, because white supremacy and racism harm everyone and society, BCS emphasizes collective healing, while never losing sight of the fact that people of color suffer disproportionately under these systems.
In our 8-part class participants dive into a supportive learning community in which they gain an understanding of the costs of racism to their personal and collective well-being and to our society. We engage in multimedia, small group work, improvisation, Theater of the Oppressed, and mindfulness practices, as we reflect on U.S. history, the multiple levels of racism, and the latest cognitive science concerning white social conditioning. Participants practice tools for shifting their relationship to whiteness, and learn how they can leverage their privilege to foster collective liberation. In addition, to counter the individualism of white culture and the implicit nature of racial bias, we emphasize community-building, somatic awareness practices, and the life-long nature of this work in all our offerings. We interweave interpersonal work with systems and design thinking, including meaningful and sustainable organizational strategy around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
* The “culture of whiteness” or simply whiteness refers to the historically constructed cluster of beliefs, norms, and values that operate implicitly to maintain white supremacy while obscuring its own social footprints. Whiteness organizes US society such that white elites maintain power,
black and indigenous communities are rendered permanently “other,” and everyone else is left to compete for the diminishing benefits of being able to claim white identity.
** White supremacy is an overarching system of social organization that keeps power and wealth largely concentrated in the hands of a white elite by dividing the populace into groups based on the fictive category of race, and offering material and psychological advantages