White practitioner accountability

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White practitioner accountability

Question: How do you hold yourself and other solo white practitioners accountable to black and brown social justice workers?

Answer: I had the incredible honor to co-found the Social Justice Training Institute twenty years ago with some dear colleagues of color. A couple of times each year, we hold SJTI and so I get to be in deeply authentic, engaging spaces where we’re doing dismantling racism work. As a white facilitator, I often get developmental feedback from the faculty and participants that help guide me in my work. I also talk openly in staff meetings about what I am feeling and thinking, what I am planning to do next and ask for the feedback from colleagues of color in case they want me to do something different.

I also hold myself accountable as I co-facilitate across race throughout the year. I have called to check in with colleagues of color as well as white peers to get feedback, talk through tough moments, and get vulnerable and visible with others.

Another idea is to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with a group of colleagues of color. Some white facilitators were designing white affinity weekend workshops for staff, faculty, and students at colleges and they intentionally partnered with facilitators of color who had already been leading similar workshops with for people who identify as multiracial, biracial, indigenous, or mono-racial, people of color. Without expecting or demanding, the white facilitators asked if their colleagues of color would be open to some occasional conversations where they discussed the ideas for the white affinity spaces and gave feedback. In return, the white facilitators offered to be useful in any way and ended up helping do some of the administrative details for the weekends for people of color.

This is about establishing an accountability process, not asking people of color to teach us.

There may be other ways to acknowledge the energy and investment of people of color who participate in an accountability process, including: sharing materials and resources or offering to facilitate trainings at their organizations pro-bono.

You can also intentionally set-up accountability systems with whites who have demonstrated greater competence than you currently have.

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