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What do you mean by racism?

We understand racism as a pattern of inequality throughout the institutions of U.S. society, such as the education, healthcare and prison systems. Racism in these institutions harms communities of color, while privileging white people as a whole.

Why have an anti-racism group for white folks?

White people need to take responsibility for undoing racism, and not let this burden of fall only on people of color. We believe that white people have unique work to do in the process of dismantling racism, and that mutual support among white folks is essential to this process. We feel it’s our job to educate and organize other white folks.

How can I learn more about racism, or become involved?

Come to the monthly educational meetings. Ask questions. Participate in a training on institutional racism sponsored by CARW or another group. Read books. Become involved in a multi-racial group. Make mistakes. Listen to feedback. Build relationships with people of color. Keep coming back.

What if I say something “wrong”?

We work to create a space for white folks to process issues related to racism. None of us are perfect. We are not experts. We know that real growth comes from taking risks, making mistakes and wrestling with feedback. We believe it’s important to challenge each other and to sit with discomfort in order to move forward. In this process, we try to speak to each other with love and respect.

What about other kinds of oppression?

CARW challenges all forms of oppression including (but not limited to) those faced by people of color, immigrants, women, working class/poor people, youth, elders, Jews, Muslims, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. We want to create an anti-racism movement that is accessible and relevant to all, which engages people of many identities and experiences. We recognize that each of us bring to this movement our personal experiences of both oppression and privilege, and that moving forward together involves addressing the power dynamics between us.

So you are against racism. What are you for?

We are working for a world of self-determination, justice, equality and peace for all peoples; a world that respects the earth and all its creatures. We believe that such a world cannot exist without fundamental social change is the U.S. This change must built through mass-based multi-racial social movements led by oppressed peoples and we see ourselves as a small part in this broader struggle for social transformation.

How does CARW define white?

CARW believes that whiteness is an invention that has shifted throughout history. Below is a working definition of what it means to be white in the United States. To be white is to have ancestral origins from Europe and/or experience white privilege and/or experience internalized racial superiority.

  • Ancestral origins from Europe: Rooted in legacies of European colonialism, the white race was initially created by English-speaking men of wealth in order to consolidate power amongst peoples of European origin. In the context of the United States, many ethnically marginalized European immigrants have come to reap the benefits of whiteness through the process of assimilation (e.g., the Irish and Italians became white over time). More recently, many have argued that Latinas/os and people of “Middle-Eastern” origin are white. CARW does not believe these populations reap the privileges of whiteness in the United States, recognizing that communities of color are racialized in distinct ways in relation to whiteness.

  • Experience of white privilege: Institutions provide benefits to groups of individuals based on their whiteness. As white people experience white privilege, people of color experience racial oppression. Throughout history, whiteness has been constructed as a means to inequitably distribute resources. Contrary to popular belief, white people do not experience racism (i.e., “reverse racism” or otherwise). While we acknowledge the existence of colorism, which serves to divide communities of color based on skin tone; this “light skin privilege” is not the same as white privilege. Additionally, we respect the self-identification of people of mixed heritage and do not see it as the role of white people to determine if individuals “pass” or “don’t pass” as white. Lastly, whiteness operates differently across gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, religion and other facets of social identity.

  • Internalized racial superiority: In this culture, white people are socialized to internally believe we are superior to people of color. This internalization is seldom acknowledged or overtly expressed, but is nonetheless present in our thoughts and actions. Whiteness operates as the norm within our society and we often believe we are racially neutral. As anti-racist white people, we see it as part of our work to name and challenge this internal process within all of us.

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