WHY IS A RJ ORGANIZATION SPONSORING A WHITE PRIVILEGE WORKSHOP?!
Doing Reproductive Justice work in Tennessee is no small feat as women of color living and working on behalf of ourselves and our communities. We, and other people of color (POC) advocates in the state, are often navigating an oppressive advocacy culture. One that is quick to tokenize us, but not as easy to accept our leadership and expertise unquestioned, unchallenged or unhindered. We are forced to navigate race, gender and power dynamics, micro and macro aggression, power and financial dynamics that are not only exhausting and traumatic, but cost us valuable time and energy which is already limited as POC's work is still grossly underfunded though our communities' disparities are the greatest.
Some of the harm has occurred because allies and partners with well intentions have never taken the time to realize or even acknowledge their individual or organizational privilege and how that privilege can translate into an oppressive dynamic when working with or attempting to work with people of color. Of course there are other instances where actions are intentional and burdensome.
On behalf of ourselves and other POC advocates in TN, we are sponsoring this opportunity with our collective successes in mind. We invite white activists, allies and partners to consider participation for this important convening in hopes to foster better working relationships among us. We are certainly stronger together than apart. This convening is for white advocates only as we are intentional about providing safe space for such a delicate and important conversation.
Many of our POC partners may say that it is not our job to educate white advocates. We agree. However it is more important to SisterReach that we hold space for white advocates to learn, grow and confront the very real intersections of race, class, gender and power dynamics which often oppress POC and provide the environment for new strategies on how to navigate relationships with those of us living and working on the margins. This is an investment for SisterReach and our POC partners in TN. Our overall goal is that this will be a first step toward better working and personal relationships, and in turn, better served communities.
That said, we encourage POC readers of this newsletter to distribute this opportunity widely to your networks and key allies you think would benefit from this free opportunity. Donations are always appreciated though.
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP:
• Workshop will utilize an intersectional and historicized approach, combining information, conversation, and emotional support/healing
• Workshop will address experiences on different levels, both micro- and macro- aggressions and larger issues such as structural racism as well as the relationship between structural/institutional racism and interpersonal racism
Workshops will provide attendees with:
• a safe, confidential, unfiltered environment in which to share and to ask questions
• a chance to explore different scenarios and possible approaches, and, where appropriate, role playing
• an opportunity to acknowledge and release emotions related to these issues
• some (specific) takeaways and strategies
• follow up workshop (date TBD by participants)
MEET OUR FACILITATOR
Laura Sullivan has over two decades’ experience in emotional healing and anti-oppression work, leading dialogue circles, support groups, workshops, and presentations for the following groups of people: white people and people of color (separately and combined, as appropriate), young people, young adults, women, men, social change advocates and activists, public sector workers, people in recovery from addictions, LGBTQ, parents, teachers, and students.
Since moving back to her hometown of Memphis in 2006, Laura has contributed to many grassroots social change efforts in the city, including those concerning public transportation, gentrification, homelessness, public housing, and community art. She was a one of the founders of the Memphis Bus Riders Union that organizes transit-dependent Memphians and works for more equitable and effective public transportation, and she was an active member of the Vance Avenue Collaborative that sought to include all residents of that community in that area’s redevelopment. She has also contributed to the Soulsville Community Planning meetings where residents provide input on the ‘revitalization’ process currently occurring in that neighborhood. In 2014, she worked with grassroots organizations in Smokey City to involve youth and community members in neighborhood issues. Laura has also been highly involved with efforts around City budget struggles, working in solidarity with public workers’ unions, including those representing the sanitation workers, utility company workers, police officers, and fire fighters.
Laura is an independent scholar, with research interests in Critical Race Studies, film and media studies, and neoliberal urban policy. Currently, she is creating a grassroots organization called Urban Alchemy, which will offer projects that combine art and activism and that address race and class issues in Memphis.