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Resources for Resilience

August 19, 2017

These are some of the resources that have helped me understand the context and complexities of racism, allyship and the universal need for identifying and transforming systems of oppression. 


I come to these resources as a woman living in America of (presumed) European descent who is racialized as white.  I am also the mother of multiracial children who are often—but not always--racialized as white.  I am learning, it is a slow process, my education incomplete.  But the journey of this education is what I wish to share, because dismantling the destructive paradigms that perpetuate racist, sexist, speciesist, homophobic ideologies requires solidarity on the path.  I am indebted to my Building Conscious Allyship class at CIIS for many of these resources.


You might wonder first at my use of the term "racialized as white," rather than calling myself a "white woman."  Racilization is an active word that gives context to what happens to all of us, regardless of our ethnic or cultural backgrounds, in a race focused society.  Race is one of those maddening points of simultaneity, as most social scientists agree that there is no genetic basis for racial separation, we are as a collective society racially mixed, and therefore racial categorization is something that happens based on perception.  Yet, in spite of the illusion of race, racial discrimination is very real, and the formations of race occur regardless of the non-reality of racial purity. Thus racialization is something that happens to all of us, and while as a person who is racialized as white it is important to acknowledge the special treatment this racialization offers, it is equally important to recognize the universality of racialization and that it is an active principle, thus subject to change.  Identity, therefore, can be transformed by simultaneously holding race as unreal, and understanding racialization.


The creation of whiteness and other race categories occurred to protect and preserve the power of a particular racist perception, one intimately linked with capitalist goals, but not all people who would now be racialized as white were seen as deserving of the benefits and privileges of whiteness.  The complex history around the creation of whiteness and other race categories is interwoven with the advent of "modern" slavery systems, the privatization of land, the genocide of women during the witch hunts, the destruction of non-Christian indigenous spiritual traditions—including those in Europe—and the colonization of continents. 


Understanding this history can help us see how we are all oppressed by the systems that perpetuate racism, (let's name some:  Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Capitalism, Religion) and work together to create new systems to live by.




On Racialization

Everyone is Racialized from the University of Calgary:


“The term ‘racialization' is very helpful in understanding how the history of the idea of ‘race' is still with us, impacts us all, profoundly, though differentially, as well, especially as the term emphasizes the ideological and systemic, often unconscious processes at work. It also emphasizes how racial categories are "constructed", including whiteness, but socially and culturally very real.


Racialization is the very complex and contradictory process through which groups come to be designated as being of a particular "race" and on that basis subjected to differential and/or unequal treatment. While white people are also racialized, this process is often rendered invisible or normative to those designated as white, and as such, white people may not see themselves as part of a ‘race' but still as having the authority to name and racialize ‘others'. 


The process by which people are identified by racial characteristics is a social and cultural process, as well as an individual one. That is, a social order might "racialize" a group through media coverage, political action, and the production of a general consensus in the public about that group. An individual might "racialize" another individual or group by particular actions (e.g., avoiding eye contact, crossing the street, asking invasive questions) that designated the target individual or group as "other" or "not-normal." Racialization is a fluid process. A particular community might be "racialized" at a point in history but then later "pass into" whiteness (e.g. Italian Canadians). Whiteness and Whites can also be racialized but this process must incorporate anti-racist and alliance principles so that whiteness is perceived as a power-base, not a target."

The Process of Racialization: From the University of York:





Aspiring Social Justice Ally Identity Development by Keith Edwards: 

Really useful in understanding the progression of ally psychology.  I used this in comprehending my own identity progression with regard to spiritual artistic appropriation.  See this blog post.


The Problem With Privilege Andrea Smith:

Speaking privilege is not enough.

“Consequently, the goal became not to actually end oppression but to be as oppressed as possible.  These rituals often substituted confession for political movement-building.  And despite the cultural capital that was, at least temporarily, bestowed to those who seemed to be the most oppressed, these rituals ultimately reinstantiated the white majority subject as the subject capable of self-reflexivity and the colonized/racialized subject as the occasion for self-reflexivity.”


Healing from Whiteness Blog

Specifically I found useful:

How do I claim my own indigenous humanity as a white person?

Cultural Amnesia: How the Celts Became White


What exactly is cultural appropriation and why is it harmful? (video)

Marina Watanabe helps define cultural appropriation with regard to capitalist exploitation and spiritual symbolism.  A worthwhile watch


Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici (links to pdf of book, but you can also find it for sale)

The history of the body in the transition to capitalism. As a woman of European descent this book helped me understand the history of the witch burnings, my ancestral patterns of fear, and the connection with racism, capitalism and Christian privilege. 


The Uses of Anger Audre Lorde

“I have no creative use for guilt, yours or my own.”


Coalition Politics by Bernice Johnson Reagon Johnson

“We’ve pretty much come to the end of a time when you can have a space that is “yours only”—just for the people you want to be there.”


Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


Books that illustrate new stories, new systems, political, spiritual, personal:


Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk


Last thoughts:


I find sheet mulching to be particularly cathartic.  As someone with a disability that prevents much physical action, I can write and speak and turn my attention to making wild gardens, full of metaphor, newsprint dissolving in the bodies of worms, roots weaving through the baselessness of this time that is no time.  Grow, seeds of new culture, seeds of the ancient.  Chant with me:  Grow grow grow grow grow.



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