Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 2: What Is This Thing Called Racism?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
After defining race and ethnicity In Week One of our Fall 2016 Unpacking Race workshop series, we talked about racism and shared the following definitions:
Institutional Racism: A system of advantage based on race and supported by institutional structures, policies and practices that create and sustain advantages for the dominant white group while systematically subordinating members of targeted racial groups. This relative advantage for Whites and subordination for people of color is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms, and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.
Individual Racism: The beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate institutional racism. Individual racism can occur at both unconscious and conscious levels, and can be both active and passive. Examples include telling a racist joke, using a racial epithet, or believing in the inherent superiority of Whites.  
Active Racism: Actions that have as their stated or explicit goal the maintenance of the system of racism and the oppression of those in targeted racial groups. People who participate in active racism advocate the continued subjugation of members of targeted groups and protection of “the rights” of members of the advantaged group. These goals are often supported by a belief in the inferiority of people of color and the superiority of white people, culture, and values. 
Passive Racism: Conscious and unconscious beliefs, attitudes, and actions that support the system of racism, racial prejudice, and racial dominance and contribute to the maintenance of racism, without openly advocating violence, discrimination, or an ideology of white supremacy.

These are from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, (Routledge, 2007). 

This week's assignments include a 3-minute video, one or two short essays, keeping your journal, and (because we have no workshop next week) a one-on-one discussion.

1. WATCH this short segment from comedian Aamer Rahman:

2. READ one or both of the following. Note that they're written for different audiences in mind: The first is addressed to people of color, the second to people who benefit from white privilege. 

  • 2A. Andrea Smith's 2013 essay "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy." This is a primer for people of color confronting the complex systems of how internalized racism can be a barrier to organizing  This is a scanned PDF, and this version is better for text-to-speech devices..
  • 2B. Peggy McIntosh's seminal essay, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." This PDF is the original version from the 1980s, and it touches on a lot of what we've discussed so far. It also contains a list of privileges, which McIntosh continued to add to, and this short video features her expanded list.
3. WRITE in your Race Journal!

4. CHECK IN with your buddy about what you've been reading, writing, and thinking about.

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 1: Who Am I?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
In Week One of our Fall 2016 Unpacking Race workshop series, we got to know each other, defined race and ethnicity and shared some of our experiences through movement and discussion. The definitions we used:
Race: A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly skin color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation or history, ethnic classification, and/or the social, economic, and political needs of a society at a given period of time. Scientists agree that there is no biological or genetic basis for racial categories.

Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical location. Members of an ethnic group are often presumed to be culturally or biologically similar, although this is not in fact necessarily the case. Examples of ethnic groups identified in the U.S. are: Cape Verdean, Haitian, African American; Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese; Cherokee, Mohawk, Navajo; Jamaican, Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican; Polish, Trinidadian, Irish, and French.

Racial and Ethnic Identity: An individual's awareness and experience of being a member of a racial and ethnic group; the racial and ethnic categories that an individual chooses to describe themselves based on such factors as genealogical or ancestral heritage, physical appearance, cultural affiliation, early socialization, and personal experience. Puerto Ricans, for example, may be racially European, African, indigenous, or various blends, yet they refer to themselves collectively as Boricuas. Despite color differences, Puerto Ricans share a culture which shapes food, language, music and customs.
These are from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, (Routledge, 2007).

In moving from the practice of unpacking race into unpacking racism, please do this: at the following.

1. JOURNAL about race. When you notice something in your life that relates to race, write about it. While we can learn lots from reading, talking, performing, and engaging in workshops about race and racism, making time for self-reflection is also essential. Your journal could be a daily practice, or a few times a week, or maybe you've always got it with you, ready to jot down your thoughts about race as they occur. No matter how you do it or how often, keep a race journal. 

2. WATCH Jay Smooth's short talk, "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Discussing Race". Jay is the host of Underground Railroad, New York's longest running hip-hop show, and also has a video blogger about race.

3. READ Audrey Smedley's short essay, "The History of the Idea of Race...and Why it Matters", detailing the history of race in the United States.

4. ALSO SEE this history of race in the U.S. as covered by the documentary, Race: The Power of an IllusionWatch the first part here. Seeing the first part may compel you to watch the rest, so here are links for Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4.