'Witnessing Whiteness' Registration Now Open Through July 12

Jun. 12, 2019

'Witnessing Whiteness' Registration Now Open Through July 12
The program is about learning to speak about race and racism, exploring white privilege, and practicing allying with sisters and brothers of color.

In collaboration with the YWCA, Webster Univeristy's Office of Diversity and Inclusion is excited to host a Witnessing Whiteness group for our St. Louis area faculty and staff.

Since 2011, the YWCA has been sponsoring Witnessing Whiteness groups as part of its mission to eliminate racism. Witnessing Whiteness groups are white people voluntarily coming together to do work around racism in a supportive, non-threatening setting. It is about learning to speak about race and racism, exploring white privilege, and practicing allying with sisters and brothers of color. WW groups are designed for individuals who identify as white.

The work of WW groups draws on the book Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It, by Shelly Tochluk. The book has nine chapters and while group sessions draw on the book, the work is about participants’ own lives, not textual analysis. During group meetings, participants consider their own lives in light of what they are learning through individual reflection as well as exercises that occur in pairs, triads, and the entire group. To watch Shelly Tochluck speak about race and her work behind her book, listen to her Tedx talk by clicking here.

The WW groups strive to:

  • Create spaces where individuals who identify and experience the world as white persons can gain additional information, practice, scholarship and insight into creating a more just and equitable world;
  • Invite participants into a community of other white people committed to positive change in their lives, workplace and region;
  • Provide a loving and healing atmosphere to learn about and grow in understanding & skills in one of the most difficult topics in our country, race;
  • Gain understanding of the intersections of race and systems;
  • Encourage advocacy, collaboration, and strategies for change, while increasing knowledge;
  • “Build knowledge, skills, capacities, and communities that support anti-racism practices” (Tochluk);
  • Understand and practice interrupting racism, develop skills to act as agents of change

Structure and Logistics

Three YWCA trained facilitators will guide the group through ten two-hour sessions over 15 weeks (meeting approximately every other week)--one for each chapter of the book plus one to reflect on the whole and look forward. It is understood that some participants will likely miss one or more sessions, but it is important to commitment to the group process and attend at least 8 of the 10 sessions.

The group requires a minimum of 20 participants and can accommodate a maximum of 25 participants and will start on August 29th and meet approximately every other week from 6-8 p.m. on the Webster University main campus in Webster Groves to finish by Dec. 12. The dates are as follows:
Aug. 29
Sept. 5, 12 and 19
Oct. 10 and 17
Nov. 7 and 21
Dec. 5 and 12

There are no costs to participate in this program; the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will provide the book, Witnessing Whiteness, for free to everyone who voluntarily participates in the group. To sign up, please click here by July 12. If you have any questions, please reach out to Chief Diversity Officer Vincent C. Flewellen at vincentflewellen@webster.edu.

If you would like to join a Witnessing Whiteness Group but cannot attend the Thursday evening group at Webster, you can sign up directly with YWCA to attend one of the other community groups. Please email witnessingwhiteness@ywcastl.org and they will provide options/locations as space is available.

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