Greetings and thanks for signing up to receive the Hackman Consulting Group newsletter!
Heather is out of the country until mid-January, but we've still got a packed schedule of trainings, conferences and presentations coming up in the first few months of 2015, as well as some great guest blogs and books to recommend this month - so here's a quick overview of all the info in this month's e-newsletter:
- Upcoming Presentations - including the next round of the Skin Deep 3-day institute!
- Conferences and Events - including a spotlight on the upcoming White Privilege Conference.
- Book Reviews - in this issue, Heather reviews Birth of a White Nation and Awake in the Wild.
- Training Tidbits - this month, Heather writes about not just the intersection but the interdependence of forms of oppression.
- Climate Change Corner - Heather covers the importance of connecting to nature and the myth of "jobs vs. the environment."
- Blog Updates - check out contributions "The Belief Gap" from guest blogger Maria Graver and "A System of Fear" from HCG trainer Stephen Nelson!
As HCG looks forward to another busy year of supporting organizations and individuals to advance equity and justice, we step into 2015 with great hopes for change and transformation in our world and deep thanks for the opportunity to work with so many of you to make that change real.
- Kate Eubank, HCG Associate
For those of you who are new to the list, this newsletter is meant to highlight some of the work we are doing at HCG, but it is also meant to be responsive to folks reading it. So if there is information you would like HCG to consider sharing in the newsletter (like great conferences you want announced), training questions you would like addressed, or other resources and content you think would be helpful, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curious about what HCG consultants and friends are up to these days? Check out the events, conferences and presentations below!
Keynote Presentation at University of Northern Iowa's Diversity Matters Town Hall
January 21, 2015
University of Northern Iowa Maucker Union, Cedar Falls, IA
Heather Hackman will be presenting the Keynote Address at UNI's seventh annual Town Hall on Diversity. This event is designed to bring together members of the UNI community from across campus for an afternoon of learning, dialog and celebration.
This event is free and open to UNI students, faculty and staff. For more information about the Town Hall, contact email@example.com.
"Calling Out the Wizard Behind the Curtain: Critically Addressing the Corrosive Effects of Whiteness in Teacher Education In the Service of Teaching for Racial Justice" Workshop
January 29, 2015
Teach for America TLD Summit, Dallas, TX
Heather will be presenting a workshop examining the problematic nature of White privilege and White supremacy in teacher education, preparation and on-going professional development. This internal TFA summit is an opportunity for TFA staff to explore innovative ways of supporting the development of teachers.
This event is open to TFA staff only - to explore bringing a similar workshop to your own community or organization, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Applying a Critical Lens” Workshop
February 4, 2015
West Metro Education Program (WMEP) Adult Learning Cultural Collaborative Program
Heather will be presenting an interactive day-long workshop for WMEP educators on honing and applying a critical Racial Equity lens for application in classroom settings and educational systems. This workshop is the second in a three-part series on "Racial Justice in Education." To enroll, participants must commit to attend all three training sessions. Session 1 took place in November 2014, and session 3 will take place on April 15, 2015.
This training is open to WMEP administrators, teachers and support staff. For more information or to register for the training, please contact WMEP.
"Teaching About Racial Identity in Lower School" Workshop
February 13, 2015
MN Association of Independent Schools Conference, Breck School, Golden Valley, MN
Marie Michael is partnering with Blake 2nd grade teachers Kamie Page, David Burton and Lori Thoraldson to offer this session based on their deep shared experience in supporting lower school age children to constructively explore racial difference and identity together. Race is a unique aspect of identity that children need skills and language to think and talk about critically. Presenters will share a lower school unit on racial identity and other strategies they use to engage children in conversations about race, culture and difference. Come prepared to move beyond awkward teachable moments to intentional discussions that allow students to explore racial differences, name their own identities, and get to know each other’s inside stories.
This workshop is open to conference participants. To learn more about the conference, go to http://www.mn-ais.org.
"More Than Skin Deep: Uprooting White Privilege and White Supremacy One Cell at a Time" 3-day Institute
February 20-22, 2015
Susan Raffo and Heather are offering another round of the More Than Skin Deep 3-day institute that has grown out of a number of one-day workshops they have conducted over the last 5 years for White folks doing racial justice work in their personal lives, work lives, and community lives. If you have any interest, please read the description in this newsletter and/or go to the event page on the HCG website or the Facebook event for information on registration, location, and other details. See below for more details!
More than Skin Deep: Uprooting White Privilege and White Supremacy One Cell at a Time
A Three-Day Workshop
February 20-22, 2015
Presenters: Heather Hackman and Susan Raffo
What does it mean to be white and anti-racist at this particular moment in time? What does it mean to show up for racial justice in your classroom, your workplace, your family, your home? To show up in solidarity for and with #Black Lives Matter, @NotYourMascot? And what does it mean to work with other white people towards ending whiteness without falling back into the same old patterns of privilege and disconnection?
Skin Deep is for white people who already have an understanding of race, racism and, particularly, whiteness (RRW), and want to learn more about how to dismantle whiteness (white Privilege and white supremacy) as it shows up within their bodies, their families and in the systems around them. By white people we recognize multigenerational white people, first generation including white immigrants, and white people with complex identities. While the focus of the institute is on whiteness, all concepts and tools presented are designed to improve white racial justice work, decenter whiteness and ultimately end racial oppression.
Here’s what you can expect to learn:
- The connection between systems of RRW and nervous system patterns in the individual and social body of white people
- The ways these systems of disconnection inhibit effective and consistent racial justice work on the part of white people
- Tools and practice to better respond to how this interruption happens and to then build resiliency in white people
- What it means to build white accountability and white coalitions that continually center racial justice
- An evolving framework for participating in a collective pathway to dismantling racism and whiteness in U.S. society
Cost: Sliding scale $225-$450 (see registration page for more info on sliding scale)
For more information go to http://www.hackmanconsultinggroup.org/skindeep/
"Understanding and Supporting the Health and Wellness of the LGBT Community" Keynote
"A Deeper Dive: Exploring the Impacts of Homophobia, Heterosexism, and LGBTQI Oppression on Health Care" Workshop
March 7, 2015
3rd Annual LGBT Health and Wellness Conference, sponsored by Des Moines University, the LGBT Health & Wellness Initiative, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and One Iowa, hosted at Des Moines University, Des Moines, IA
Heather will be presenting both a keynote address and two sessions of a "deeper dive" workshop at this year's LGBT Health and Wellness Conference. This conference is open to the public, and designed for both LGBT individuals and those working with the LGBT community.
For more information, call 515-288-4019, ext. 208.
White Privilege Conference
March 11 - 14, 2015
Galt House Hotel, Louisville, KY
Heather will be presenting or co-facilitating two institutes and two (or maybe three!) workshops at this powerful annual conference. You can check out the details on the conference - and on Heather's presentations - in the "Conference Spotlight" section below! If you've never attended the "WPC", we strongly encourage you to consider joining this tremendous group of individuals this year for an incredibly powerful four days.
This conference is open to the public. For more information, check out the box below, or go to www.whiteprivilegeconference.com.
“From Theory to Practice: Applying a Racial Equity Lens to Educational Policy” Workshop
April 14, 2015
West Metro Education Program (WMEP) Adult Learning Cultural Collaborative Program
Heather will be presenting an engaging and interactive session for WMEP educators on how to take a Racial Equity lens beyond the classroom and apply it to educational policy. This training is a stand-alone training - participants are not required to be enrolled in the three-part Racial Equity in Education series described above in order to attend this workshop.
This training is open to WMEP administrators, teachers and support staff. For more information or to register for the training, please contact WMEP.
Environmental Justice Sermon
April 19, 2015
Earth Day Service at First Universalist Church, Minneapolis, MN
Heather will be offering the sermon for First Universalist's annual Earth Day service, as part of the church's ongoing work to advance - and connect - racial justice and environmental justice work.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information, go to www.firstuniversalistchurch.org.
To keep up with HCG presentations and consultants between newsletters, be sure to check out the “Upcoming Events” page on our website!
Conferences & Events
Additional upcoming learning opportunities that might be of interest to HCG followers...
Creating Change: The National Conference on LGBT Equality
Organized by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
February 4 - 8, 2015 in Denver, CO
American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Annual Convention
Organized by the ACPA
March 5 - 8, 2015 in Tampa, FL
White Privilege Conference*
Organized by The Privilege Institute
March 11-14, 2015 in Louisville, KY
*Heather will be presenting both institutes and workshops at this conference - see "Conference Spotlight" below for more details!
The Forum on Workplace Inclusion Annual Conference
Organized by the Forum on Workplace Inclusion at the University of St. Thomas
March 17 - 19, 2015 in Minneapolis, MN
NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) Annual Conference: Navigating with Courage
Organized by NASPA
March 21 - 25, 2015 in New Orleans, LA
Professional Development Institute of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
Organized by NAPE
April 21-23, 2015 in Alexandria, VA
The National Conference on Race and Ethnicity*
Organized by the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies
May 26 - 30, 2015 in Washington, DC
*Heather will be presenting 2 workshops at this conference - watch future newsletters for more details!
Resistance, Action, Courage & Equity: The South Leading the Way!
What is the White Privilege Conference?
- WPC is a conference that examines challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solutions and team building strategies to work toward a more equitable world.
- It is not a conference designed to attack, degrade or beat up on white folks.
- It is not a conference designed to rally white supremacist groups.
- WPC is a conference designed to examine issues of privilege beyond skin color. WPC is open to everyone and invites diverse perspectives to provide a comprehensive look at issues of privilege including: race, gender, sexuality, class, disability, etc. — the ways we all experience some form of privilege, and how we’re all affected by that privilege.
- WPC attracts students, professionals, activists, parents, and community leaders/members from diverse perspectives. WPC welcomes folks with varying levels of experience addressing issues of diversity, cultural competency, and multiculturalism.
- WPC is committed to a philosophy of “understanding, respecting and connecting.”
Join HCG staff and over 1,500 people from across the country for the 16th annual White Privilege Conference in Louisville KY this March! This year, WPC participants will have the opportunity to hear from keynotes including Chris Crass, Gyasi Ross, Loretta J. Ross, Dr. Mab Segrest and James Donaldson. Founded and organized by the fantastic Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr, the White Privilege Conference creates a powerful space of learning, dialogue and action where educators, activists, community members and anyone concerned about issues of privilege and oppression come together to challenge and equip themselves for another year of advancing equity and justice.
For more information about the conference and a link to registration, go to www.whiteprivilegeconference.com
(lower early registration rates end on Feb 13th).
Heather has been involved in the White Privilege Conference for several years, and this year she will be presenting a number of institutes and workshops at the conference (listed below). For more detailed descriptions of these institutes and workshops, check out the HCG events page
Making the World As It Could Be: Connecting the Love that Informs Social Justice to the Science Behind Our Interdependence
Heather and Dr. Shakti Butler are collaborating to offer this day-long institute designed to foreground the body and underscore how our capacity to love, our deeply human ability to sense and intuit knowledge, and our truly human need to work as integral partners with each other is an essential component for social justice.
Having the Hard Conversation: Courageously Talking About Privilege and Liberation from the Place of Love, Equity and Our Common Humanity
Heather, the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington and Dr. Shakti Butler will be presenting a workshop designed to move through the divisive dynamics of oppression via a conversation from targeted group members toward agent group members that is imbued with love, courage, compassion and ultimately our common humanity.
The Body Already Knows: A Framework for Dismantling Race, Racism and Whiteness and Achieving Racial Justice
Dr. Hackman will be presenting a workshop focusing on the ways that a framework of "cellular wisdom" can help us dismantle the ways that race, racism and whiteness artificially divide us from our embodied knowledge of how to live in just and supportive community.
Climate-Change-Mind-Set: The Necessity of Replacing White Liberalism with Racial Justice as We Courageously Act in Response to Climate Change
AND Post-Conference Institute
This workshop explores how exploitative frameworks along race (and class) lines brought us to our current climate reality, and how a racial (and class) justice lens can help us individually and collectively best address climate change and work for climate justice. The longer institute session gives a deeper dive into this content and also includes time to explore personal, local, regional, national and global ways of concretely applying this racial (and class/gender) justice lens to our individual and community-based climate justice efforts.
We hope to see you at the WPC!
Battalora, Jacqueline. Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and its Relevance Today. Houston, TX: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Company, 2013.
This is an excellent little book. Jacqueline Battalora brings a wonderful mix of legal analysis (she has a JD) and sociological framing (she is a professor of sociology as well) to the discussion of exactly when and how “race” (in particular, “White”) came to be, for what purpose, and why it has been so pernicious in the U.S. national consciousness. In my trainings I emphasize the crucial need to understand that race is a social construction (meaning it was made up by the group invested with cultural and institutional power) because this serves as foundational knowledge for “getting” how systemic racism and whiteness work. And while in reality race is a “lie”, it is a lie that has devastated the lives of hundreds of millions of people and serves as one of the primary organizers of every aspect of U.S. society.
Despite how complicated this discussion can often be, Dr. Battalora offers both a comprehensive and accessible base of content as she reveals the insidious and intentional manner in which race, and specifically the “White” racial narrative, was created and has been consistently propagated in U.S. society. The thoroughness of her explanation belies any hope of seeing race as an essentially true concept and instead shows that it was clearly created with the underlying intent of maintaining British (and later U.S., White, male, Christian, land-owning) rule and ultimately organizing this power in such a way that would undermine any future attempts at challenging it. The arc of the book lays bare the brashness and intentionality of this creation and helps the reader easily see that the historical purpose of the creation of race is alive and well in the racial realities of today and that the violence perpetuated against Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the spate of Black male homicides at the hands of “the system” is actually an unbroken pattern of racialized violence used to maintain racial categories and apartheid structures in U.S. society.
If you are an educator or trainer, this book is an excellent teaching tool – more specifically, it makes it easy to identify the definitive moments and means by which the category “White”, and race more generally, was created. And when used in combination with other books such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow or Dr. Waziyatawin’s What Does Justice Look Like, Battalora’s book does an excellent job of exposing the purpose of race in this country: to preserve power for White society. Additionally it is an excellent vehicle for assisting multigenerational White U.S.ers in reflecting on their multigenerational experience and more deeply understanding the nature of White Privilege in this society historically and today. One of the most common mistakes in teaching or training about racial issues is to jump into it at the place of racism or whiteness without thoroughly dissecting the realities (historically and currently) of race itself. Thankfully, this book gives anyone working in racial justice education a perfect support for avoiding that trap.
The only side note about the book is that it can get slightly repetitive at times and you will, on occasion, see the same sentence or wording appear. But, I encourage everyone to look past those editing issues and see the incredible value of the content within the book itself.
Coleman, Mark. Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery. Novato, California: New World Library, 2006.
In trying to understand how we got to this current moment with respect to climate change, the tendency is to look at the science to see what the data tells us (IPCC report 2014), or to strongly critique industrialization and the current frenzied corporatocracy and ideology of consumption (Klein, 2014), or to consider issues of population growth and that environmental imbalance is inevitable when the carrying capacity of the planet is roughly 2 billion and we are at 7.34 billion and still rising (Weisman, 2013). All these points have deep and resonant merit and should absolutely be discussed. However, one aspect that can sometimes get lost in the shadow of these other issues is the increasing level of disconnect so many of us on this planet have from our natural environment. To be fair, this disconnect is occasionally mentioned in the three discussions above, but it is often framed merely as an inevitable outcome and rarely analyzed for its own merit. Mark Coleman’s book is not at all about climate change, but it is deeply connected to climate issues in that via its incredible focus on connecting with the natural world it draws into stark relief this extreme disconnect with respect to nature and offers concrete methods by which the reader can use mindfulness to not only reconnect, but ground one’s life more consistently in the rhythms of the natural world altogether.
Mark Coleman is a Buddhist teacher (and Brit) who is trained in, and instructs in, the Vipassana tradition. He teaches out of Spirit Rock meditation center as well as other sites around the globe and has been focusing on mindfulness in the natural world for several years. The subtitle of the book, “Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery”, would have one think that this book is solely focused on individual growth and awareness. And yet, when viewed through the lens of climate disruption and climate justice, it is clear that this book, and the practical meditations Mark lays out, is an incredible set of tools for grounding one’s self in the natural world even as we attempt to address its dramatic changes. The world is changing, we can feel it, and without knowing what to do about that fact, many turn that emotional connection off or attempt to stuff it in order to not have to face what is coming. And yet as I attended a workshop in NYC on “preparing the heart for climate action” the day before the massive September 21 climate march, the Buddhist nuns who led the workshop stressed that the only way to truly deal with the pain and fear of climate disruption is to fully open to it – open to the complexity and uncertainty that one is feeling – and then gently move through it. Mark’s book is a tool kit for doing so in that throughout the book he offers essential Dharma lessons with accompanying meditations and thereby gives the reader concrete ways to reconnect with the natural world, ground that connection in Dharma, and ultimately be able to face this reality with a little more wisdom and compassion (as well as action). If you are not a Buddhist, you need not dismiss the solid psychological foundation that Buddhist psychology offers. Coleman’s years of practice and teaching are evident in this book and his exercises are accessible to the experienced practitioner and layperson alike.
Curious about upcoming book reviews? In the coming months, watch this space for reviews of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and Paul Kivel’s Living in the Shadow of the Cross.
Intersectionality to Interdependence
I have discussed before the great importance of understanding how forms of oppression intersect and connect to each other, resulting in compounding dynamics for those who have multiple subordinate identities. More and more, however, I’ve been talking about this dynamic as an interdependence rather than an intersection because of the ways that forms of oppression literally feed off each other, and therefore form a dependence on one other.
For example, when teaching about the social construction of race and its 400-year history, there is an insidious way in which gender gets used by the racial establishment to refute the notion that race is a social construct. Gender itself is a socially constructed binary, but it has had a much longer lifespan than race in Western epistemology and it is this long history that makes it seem to the casual observer as if this gender binary relationship (where men are from Mars and women are from Venus) has been around “forever”. In this way, gender becomes a defense that Whiteness uses to justify the creation of race by asserting that “it is natural that humans are separated by physical differences such as reproductive biology and skin color - it has been going on for as long as humans have been around…etc.” In this way, the racialized system in this country literally uses gender as a way to justify its own existence by framing the grouping of humans by race as “normal” and “what humans do” despite all of the historical evidence to the contrary. As such, the system of racial oppression in this country does not merely intersect with gender oppression, it actually needs it in order to continue to use it as a defense of its very existence.
In a reciprocal manner, gender oppression needs race in order to further its hold on the lives of cis-women and trans* folks in this country. Take for example Jean Kilbourne’s discussion of “Ideal Female Beauty” in the U.S. / West and how it is used as a weapon of sexism and gender oppression. Upon examination, it becomes immediately evident that this standard of beauty is a highly racialized standard, with White being the ultimate representation, thus making it even more impossible to attain given that a majority of the world’s women and trans* folks are Native People and People of Color. For example, in U.S. colonial and antebellum history, the ideal woman was not only highly effeminate but also extremely light skinned, thereby making the lives of Black women even more brutal, marginalized and oppressive because not only were these women “3/5 of a human” but they were also clearly not “real women”. This ideology became particularly important to the institution of slavery after the Atlantic Slave Trade ended and Black women were seen even more so as “animals to be bred” for the production of more slaves. In this way, the use of White supremacy as a tool of sexism served to deepen the impact of gender oppression in this country thus justifying medical experimentation on Black women, the forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women, and other atrocities directed specifically at women of color.
I offer this frame in my trainings to underscore not only the ways that forms of oppression deeply need each other, but to also highlight the fact that our liberations therefore also deeply need each other. This is a vital element of any social justice training – to understand that White privilege and White supremacy are maintained by the perpetuation of gender oppression clearly implies that I will never be free of gender oppression so long as White privilege and White supremacy are intact. Notice I’m not simply saying “racial oppression” but rather grounding the point of analysis and contestation in the dominance and power structure at the core of racial oppression. For me as a multigenerational, White, U.S.-er this means that if I want gender liberation (which I truly do) I must do everything within my power to deconstruct White privilege and White supremacy. The adage “no one is free while others are oppressed” begins to get at this, but I am speaking more directly to the fact that “my White privilege is a key weapon of my gender oppression” and it simply must go.
Climate Change Corner
Connecting to Nature
A pernicious problem when trying to address climate change issues is trying to do so with people who themselves are cut off from the natural world. Sure, many have ventured outside to walk to their car, or take walks or runs regularly, or make a point to camp and be out in nature for extended periods of time, but that does not necessarily mean that there is a substantial connection. And it is the lack of that connection that often so heavily diminishes the ability of folks in the West to truly comprehend and take action to address climate change - particularly those who are highly privileged in the U.S. (White, cis-male, professional middle class or owning class, heterosexual, and so on).
The reason for this is that one of the mechanisms by which privilege operates is in cutting Dominant group members off from their bodies, from their capacity to connect with others, and even their ability to connect with their own basic emotional lives. And so, effective work with Dominant group members when it comes to addressing climate change requires pressing the issue of connection with oneself, with others, and ultimately with nature in ways that are designed to reconnect folks to their bodies, to their emotional selves, and to their capacity to literally feel the realities around them.
To be sure, most White, cis-male, middle class, etc. folks are prone to rush to action and would rather do something than muck about with such seemingly inefficacious things as feelings, connection and relationships. And yet, the exploitative systems that have brought about this climate reality thrive in states of disassociation because that state ensures that those who are privileged will not, in fact, feel what is happening, and thus will not be compelled emotionally, spiritually, morally, or ethically to take strong and direct action around climate change.
So as not to be too vague, some specific strategies to address this dynamic include using meditative practices designed to connect to nature such as those identified in Mark Coleman’s book Awake In the Wild (reviewed above), yoga or tai chi or other movement-based embodiment practices, or specifically designed retreats meant to foster a relationship with the outdoors rather than an objectification of it. By using these as complements to social justice work, climate change and justice organizing, and overall social organizing we can deepen the effectiveness of our work on all fronts.
The Myth of “Jobs vs. the Environment”
I was attending an environmental conference this weekend and Kim Wasserman was one of the panelists speaking about organizing for environmental justice who responded to this question. She only had a few minutes but in a nutshell she identified this as a false choice, and argued that when we instead place solutions to environmental issues within our communities themselves (rather than in the hands of policy-makers and those in institutionalized positions of power) we are able to collectively identify ways we can transition economies, support each other as we do, and essentially take care of our neighbors.
In thinking about this more, the question itself exposes not just a false dichotomy but also a revealing peek into the mind of White, Western, Imperialist, un-regulated free market capitalist thinking (for more on this mindset, please read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything) because this mindset has built its capital on the constant and linear exploitation of the planet’s resources. Whether it has been through the notion of “manifest destiny”, White supremacy and its ideological assumption of its superior use of resources, or the brutal reality of colonization (the endless drive for resources in the form of people, places and things), the current economic and political system leaves no room for a “relationship” with nature and in fact places the economy at odds with any independent sense of the needs of the environment. That is why many business-people see environmentalism as anything from “anti-business” to communism and the sure-fire end to civilization.
And yet, as Kim pointed out, the truth is that an economic structure that can reasonably support its people and an ideological structure that can support the needs of the environment are not at all at odds when seen through the lens of collective, connected communities where social responsibility trumps individual avarice and greed. It is for this reason that our work as climate justice advocates must consistently frame these issues in the collective, address these issues in connected ways, and be sure that all voices are at the table. Yes, this is “time consuming”, yes it hampers “political expediency” (which is actually a good thing given that political expediency has often been a euphemistic means to ensure that the needs of the Dominant group are met first), and no we do not have to “hurry and therefore will get to this later”. We have to turn this thinking around now, and instead of thinking “we just don’t have time for collective and connected work”, we have to realize that there is no other way…we are in this together and we can and will take care of each other if we remember this.
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