It feels almost like there’s too much going on, too much has happened, to be able to summarize. I’ll touch on some of the happenings… I was able to raise the money –through a “Leadings” grant from my Quaker Meeting and donations from individuals– to hire a consultant to work with our groups to get clear about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, ensuring that these groups are on the path toward dismantling white supremacy rather than just “nice” support groups enabling passivity. (For sure, we aren’t people who are passive in our racial justice work!) We white people don’t have a lot of practice breaking free from white supremacy’s grip, so we hired Farron of Farron’s View to provide me (Heather, aka “serenebabe” in Internet circles) support and guidance and they are also working with our groups as we all deem it most appropriate.
The two groups have been blooming in different ways, which tells me that following the needs of the participants is valuable. Each group has taken some time to assess our formats and individual and collective goals. With Farron’s support we have begun looking at the “polarities” of internal processing and external actions in racial justice work; helping us shift from “or” thinking to “and” thinking and also helping us not get stuck on either of the poles.
The larger group (six participants) has extended our monthly meeting time to 90 minutes, and several folks meet a second time each month with some regularity. The smaller group has been four of us for the last six months or so, with someone joining and leaving after one or two sessions. We are now down to three of us and will be discussing what that means — do we need to have more people? is it sufficient or even good to have just three of us? The smaller group has stayed at one hour, once a month.
As the person who originally invited people to join me for these check-in groups, I’ve found it has brought out enormous need for growth in my own recovery from my addiction to whiteness. So many questions! More questions than answers, really, but some important answers are germinating.
One truth I’ve found is that to be in relationship with each other is an essential part of the work. If I see patterns of white supremacy culture in myself or in our group, shedding light on those patterns (calling others in, or naming my own) in an effective way is only going to happen if we have built trust with each other. In the last gathering of the larger group, one member cited a group (I forget who! someone related to the Wabanaki REACH work, I believe?) describing the work of their group as moving “at the speed of trust.” This is a part of what we’re doing in these groups. It’s not what I set out to do, it’s not a checklist format.
In January, Farron will be coming to both of the two groups to facilitate conversations about the relationship between discomfort and danger.
So, yes, this summary update is entirely insufficient but it’s also better than nothing, I hope. 🙂