We are still meeting, monthly. However, the two men in our group left last spring. Due to health reasons I was not at either of the meetings when they explained their decisions. As I’m writing this, realizing I’m not 100% sure why they left (I have a pretty good sense about it — they didn’t like being put on the spot, is my perception of it) and understanding that is important. At some point, I may reach out to one of them to talk through their reasoning. Honestly, though, “what the white men feel about this” doesn’t feel like a top priority at the moment.*
The remaining group — four of us — are older (50+) white women. Out of respect for their privacy, and also aware that keeping things private can be a form of white supremacy culture/protecting whiteness, I’m not yet going to share details about our limited but existing intersectionality. We are building trust with each other so we can push ourselves harder into more uncomfortable change.
After a few meetings regaining our footing after the tumultuous — tumult caused by our racism — last several months, we regrouped and are now following a simple model. We are sharing leadership/Clerking of the group, each person takes a month and is responsible for sending the reminders, zoom links, review of our plan for the next meeting. We will be diving in to a review and learnings about what we did with Farron, how our actions and inaction upheld white supremacy and injured our partner in this work (the consultant). We will work together to identify ways we can make amends, to repair the harms both directly and indirectly.
While I personally (Heather) have been very vocal that I “don’t want this to be just another book group” we are also considering reading together the book by Regina Jackson and Saira Rao, entitled White Women: Everything You Already Know about Your Own Racism and How to Do Better because reviews say it includes recommended actions we white women can take. If we do read this together, it would be in the name of understanding the harms we caused Farron and continue to cause as white women.
We are continuing to meet monthly, usually via zoom, sometimes outside in person. (COVID is not over!) We are all aware that the tendency to turn to a feel-good support group rather than a community committed to uncomfortable change; it’s on our radar to stay in transformational change, solutions, and especially, actions. We have been practicing calling each other out (or in) and processing how uncomfortable it is, knowing we want to build these skills so we can use them in “the real world.”
* I’m thinking of something I learned on my favorite podcast, Maintenance Phase, where co-host Aubrey Gordon described a tool used in community/political organizing, a 1-5 scale. I’ve googled to try to find a good source to explain it, but haven’t had luck. The gist is that a person who is a 1 is already “on your side,” and probably actively working for the cause. A person who is a 5 is against the cause and may be working actively against it. The men in our group were not 1’s or 2’s and while their self-perceptions would probably disagree, I don’t think they were even 3’s. Maybe one of them was. I don’t have hard feelings about them leaving, but I do have an awareness of why “understanding” them isn’t a top priority for me.