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I'm continuing my #BlackHistoryMonth focus of #FundBlackWomen into March. March is #WomensHistoryMonth& I'm going to keep the focus on Black Women. I had a plan for this week & scrapped it when I saw @blackgirlinmain and @DebbyIrving in Portsmouth on Sunday (it'll be next week.)
This past Sunday @BlackHeritageNH had one of their Tea Talks. It was the first one I was able to attend, and I was so glad I did! Over 200 people were at Temple Israel in Portsmouth.
Moments after arriving, a work friend found me, which was great, (not just because I got to see her, but because she's attended all of them so far, so she gave me a little breakdown of what they were like before they started.
Anyway, it started, with Shay Stewart-Bouley blackgirlinmaine.com introducing Debby Irving. debbyirving.com and the two women gave background on how their friendship started, and how their working relationship began.
I'm actually NOT going to go into more detail about it right now BECAUSE I want to encourage you to look up both women and find out for yourselves! What I'm going to talk about next are the main points that I took away from the talk. I will be totally unable to do it all justice.
I am also going to encourage every single white person reading this to follow both women on Twitter (@blackgirlinmain and @DebbyIrving).

I mean, POC who follow me, feel free to follow them to, but I'm only trying to hold WP accountable.
BIG THING 1.: White Progressive Liberals are really problematic. More so than Conservative Openly Racist Folks. Why? Because we think we can't be racist. And that's dangerous.
How to have conversations about race with POC, and especially BPOC comes down to self-examination: It's impossible not to absorb the messages. "I'm racist NOT because I'm a bad person. I'm racist because I can't help but absorb all of the messages that come at me about POC."
Hey, who says that ALL THE TIME?! (@ToriGlass and @charlotteirene8).

Confession time: I said that once. When I was in college, I thought I couldn't possibly be racist, because my sister isn't white, and she's my favorite person in the whole world!
One day, I came across an article claiming that all white people were racist, and (I am forever grateful for this) my reaction was not to get defensive (that's the default for a lot of us). My first thought was "Oh, how sad. This woman has only ever met racist white people."
See, I still didn't think it applied to me! But, because I didn't get defensive, I read it with an open mind. Therefore I was able to say "Oh! That IS me." There are things that I have absorbed, that I do unintentionally, with no malice or hate, but they are still there."
That realization was a big turning point, and @DebbyIrving said a similar thing. Her own realization enabled her friendships with her POC friends to get much deeper. Back to the talk: How do we get AWAY from the defensiveness?
Emotional maturity. WP in this country are not taught to be emotionally mature. We're taught to avoid conflict . POC are not, as their entire existence is conflict within this society.
And if we're not getting defensive (because there are those of us who have moved beyond that), we may fall into another trap. The White Savior. The WS does everything to feel good about themselves (Green Book). The WS is also NOT LISTENING.
Book learning is easy. What's harder is learning a completely new set of cultural skills. WP need to do this, but how do we do this without overburdening BPOC? Because they are overburdened. The onus has to also be on us (WP) to educate and to hold one another accountable.
Right now, it seems like WP are stuck. They're reading the books and going to the workshops, but that's kind of it. We must make every day as intentional as possible. And we can't do it without relationships. Real relationships.
This isn’t easy because our country is structured to make it easy for WP to avoid POC. Entire towns of people who have never met a BPOC? For some of us it seems baffling, but it's true.
Next Topic: Racial Trauma & Empathy.

@blackgirlinmain began talking about Michael Brown. I won't say details, because I have not asked her permission. But her emotional words and echoed what many mothers of black men have expressed time and time again.
@DebbyIrving mentioned how she imagined her own family in that situation...

And @blackgirlinmain made 🤔face. She (Irving) had said something similar before. Why did she have to imagine her own family to be able to empathize with the loss of a black boy?
The room was silent, as these are two women who love each other, who work on racial conversations together had this unscripted moment of silence and Irving said acknowledged that her internalized white supremacy affects her empathy.
It really drove home the point this is a process. WP are socialized to only connect with other WP. Both the head and the heart must connect for emotional maturity. It was a remarkable moment, and I will never forget it.
This was a good segue into White Fragility: How it manifests in men (Stomping) and in women (Tears). Both are tools of manipulation. Manipulation = derailing the conversation.
And it isn't that we're not supposed to feel (back to the head + heart!) we are! But are our feeling based on the other person, or are they based on us? Are we upset because of how we're being perceived, or are we upset because something sad is actually happening?
Time: While culture demands efficiency/busyness. To deprogram racial conditioning, we need to be present to listen and process. There is so much subtlety that is designed to distract WP from doing the work of listening to our POC siblings and empathizing with them.
We did break up into small groups during the talk, and we were asked to keep what was shared confidential. However, I will say that I really liked the group that I was in, of men and women of multiple ages and races.
Q&A: 1. Can WP who are also minorities in another way (LGBTQIA) use that as a springboard for connection? How? Or should they not? (Asked by a WW who identified herself as queer.)
A: It's very tricky. We all have many factors to our identity. It doesn't always come across that the power of whiteness is being downplayed. There's is a very TINY window.
Start with "I acknowledge the power and privilege in my whiteness." before the other connection and see how the BPOC responds.
Q: (Also a WW). She started talking about how this (conversations, workshops) is the floor. How our entire economy is founded and based on a racist structure. She doesn't believe that any progress can be made unless reparations are made. Can there be?
Nope. Reparations of some kind are necessary, because BPOC have systematically been unable to grow any sort of wealth and most WP have been unaware until recently, and those that were aware haven't wanted to do anything about it.
The question is (and this wasn't fully answered, because it's a big discussion) is what should reparations look like: (Questions were asked about free college tuition...the wage gap would invalidate that.)
Actually, I saw @blackgirlinmain talking about that question just yesterday on her Twitter, so again...FOLLOW HER!
We're so lawsuit happy in this country, but 1. slander 2. libel 3. emotional distress 4. assault 5. theft WHY has there been no massive class action lawsuit filed by POC against the US government? They absolutely have grounds!
Our entire country was based on the lie of Liberty and justice for all, but it has never really existed. If it's the goal, there's still more work to be done.
The retired head of religion dept of PEA stood up and talked about acknowledging each other's sovereignty. He had this voice that was booming and powerful and gentle an comforting at the same time.

He said "I am the king of me. And you are the queen of you." He did this thing great speakers do when they look at everyone in the crowd and then they look at one person. He looked at an older women sitting near me when he said "you are the queen of you." and smiled
I thought she was going to turn into a puddle. He said that if we acknowledge the truth of our own sovereignty, we will acknowledge it in others. We must never assume to know another's truth, only our own.
As he said that, I thought "Black people never assume they know someone else's truth, and WP do that all the time." He beamed at all of us and said "To never assume means we acknowledge everyone mutual sovereignty. When we acknowledge mutual sovereignty, we will listen."
We closed with him singing the old spiritual “Let My People Go” and his voice filled the room and this was me 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭.
I said before that these notes can't do it justice, and...they really can't. Anyway, I picked up “Waking up White” by @DebbyIrving And I can’t wait to start reading it.
debbyirving.com/recommended-re… She signed her book for me, and told me to look up the resources on her web site. White people: Here's the link. Let's educate ourselves.
And please: #FundBlackWomen. blackgirlinmaine.com/about/ is Black Girl in Maine, and this communitychangeinc.org is @blackgirlinmain's day job at Community Challenge, Inc.
Wow, I think I have a record! @threadreaderapp would you please unroll?
SIDE NOTE: I just had this, by @frankieonye come across my feed, and they said I could post it! THIS is how are defensiveness feels to our POC and especially BPOC friends. frankieonye.com/thoughts/2019/…
*our (🙄)
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