~ a 10-week online training program for white people commited to racial justice ~
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On any given week, a video of police violence, another one of Trump’s comments, and other blatant evidence of systemic racism spreads across the media and internet.
The racism in these words and actions is so clear to you. But you’ve seen how so many white people, including your friends and family, are refusing to acknowledge that reality. Their defensiveness may leave you feeling angry and at a loss for words.
You've realized that white supremacy is so normalized that many white people, even if they believe racism is wrong, fight to deny the existence and impact of racism on people of color – even though people of color tirelessly point it out.
You’ve also noticed how characteristics associated with white people, particularly well-off white people, are considered “normal” and “good.” You get that this (often unconscious) notion of whiteness is used to put down people of color and make them the “other” and “bad” in comparison.
More than ever before, you’re understanding just how prevalent and harmful racism is – and how white privilege protects you from its harm and from even noticing it in the first place!
With this growing consciousness, you know that as a person with white privilege, you cannot continue to be passive in the face of systemic racism, like you have been conditioned to be.
But there’s fear holding you back, preventing you from taking action.
What if I get it wrong?
Once you notice just how insidious and ingrained racism really is – and how often you find yourself unintentionally and unconsciously upholding it – it can feel like your whole worldview is shaken.
As you think about what you personally can do to address racism, you may find yourself wrestling with questions like:
How can I make sure I don't accidentally say something that's racist and hurts people I care about?
I know I need to speak up against racism more, but when does speaking up cross the line into speaking over people of color?
What do I when I discover I've been subconsciously stereotyping and judging people of color?
I feel so guilty about having white privilege, but am I really willing to give up that privilege? Do I even know what that means?
How can I figure out what I should be doing to fight racism without burdening people of color by constantly asking them what I should do?
How do I deal with the fact that I’m scared to talk to other white people about racism when they often get really angry at me and call me a racist when I bring it up?
And these are just some of the questions you find yourself struggling with.
Which brings us to the next question…
Why is it so hard, as a white person, to do anti-racism work?
For white people to truly engage in anti-racism work, they must first engage with their unconscious conditioning to be racist.
This is often the first obstacle in approaching this work – and because it is so normalized and insidious, it can feel insurmountable.
While white people are not inherently or inevitably racist, they are all raised in societies built on systemic racism and have been bombarded since birth with conflicting messages that teach them to:
Think and act in racist ways that personally benefit them at the collective expense of people of color
View these racist behaviors as either racially neutral or even anti-racist (like being “colorblind”) as if they don't personally benefit from them
Believe that since they don’t personally benefit or intenionally engage in racism, they have no personal responsibility to do anything to end it
Consider being a racist one of the worst things you can be
While people of color are taught these same lies, they have their personal and collective experiences and histories to help counter them. Just as people of color need to heal and free themselves from internalized racism, white people need to as well.
That means the question needs to shift from “Am I a racist?” to “How will I work towards undoing the threads of racism I was raised with?"
While we’d all love it if we could jump from being raised in a deeply racist society to becoming completely anti-racist, it doesn’t work like that.
The desire to not be racist is, alone, not enough.
First and foremost, you need to become conscious of how white supremacy is expressed through you.
By becoming conscious of this unconscious conditioning, you are then able to choose whether or not to do as you’ve been taught or to act in accordance with your values of justice and humanity.
The only way out is through, my friend.
Check out our frequently asked questions below for more information!
When we get in touch with our pain, we can heal it.
When we heal our pain, we become free to act from a place of love and justice.
White supremacy and other forms of systemic oppression have conditioned white people to deny the emotional pain that arises from knowing they personally benefit from collective harm.
Systemic oppression is only able to continue when the dominant group refuses to acknowledge the humanity of the marginalized group.
To do so, they need to cut themselves off from their emotional system. Otherwise, they would feel compassion in the face of this violence and be moved to stop it.
That is why white people need to restore themselves to emotional wholeness in order to truly free themselves from racism and move into action to end white supremacy.
Through this Compassionate Activism program, you will learn how to use these moments of confusion, anxiety, and anger to go deeper in order to heal your own pain and suffering. This will then allow you to invite others to do the same in order to create a more loving, just world together.
By participating in this program, you’ll be able to work in a community of racially conscious white people to do the following:
Identify the pain that’s behind your resistance and struggle to take action for racial justice
Give your pain the gentle, loving care and attention it deserves, while holding the space for others to do the same
Get back all the time and energy you normally spend on feeling confused, anxious, and angry with yourself and others and direct them towards taking action instead
Stop being scared of discovering how you've been harmful and welcome the opportunity to hold yourself accountable in order to restore loving justice
Get alternatives to silencing yourself or coddling other people who are being unconsciously harmful
Engage in dialogue with other people without letting fear drive you
Help people transform their ignorance and defensiveness into greater consciousness and motivation to act in that solidarity with people of color
Okay, I believe this is possible for me. But how am I supposed to get there?
What You Will Learn
This online training program is based on the Compassionate Activism model, which teaches you how to heal from systemic oppression and respond to everyday oppression with love and justice. It is designed to teach you the very healing practices that white supremacy and other forms of systemic oppression desperately don’t want you to have.
Drawing upon mindfulness and other Buddhist practices, Compassionate Activism offers Five Practices to support people in restoring themselves to emotional wholeness and responding to everyday oppression with love and justice.
1. The Practice of Noticing Toxicity and Acknowledging Multiple Realities
Due to their unconscious conditioning by white supremacy, many white people – even while believing racism is wrong – don’t realize how often they associate white culture and experiences with what's “normal” and “good."
This leads them to struggle with acknowledging that their experiences may not actually be the norm. Acknowledging racism and its impact is difficult when people of color are considered “other” and their reality is not affirmed as being different from that of white people.
Learning to recognize toxic whiteness and engage it, as well as holding the multiple realities as all being true, can ground white people in what is actually happening.
2. The Practice of Humble Curiosity and Gentle Mindfulness
When we hurt someone unintentionally, we feel pain at realizing that. So in order to avoid feeling that pain, we engage in a lot of denial and judgement in order to shift the focus away from the original harm.
That’s why leaning in with humble curiosity – embracing the idea that maybe you don’t know everything and that there’s more to understand – opens us up to exploring what’s happening within us without judging, shaming, and blaming ourselves or others. With this curiosity, we’re able to stay with our feelings until we get to the core pain at play.
This helps shift well-intentioned white people from denying how they’re expressing racism because of their fear of being racist to exploring what implicit biases may have surfaced in them – and getting in touch with the very real pain that comes with them. That pain and grief can then be channeled into acting in solidarity with people of color.
3. The Practice of Compassionate Self-Accountability and Radical Education
Once we are aware of the pain we’re experiencing, we can take responsibility for how we had not been attending to it before. This involves acknowledging what you’ve done, how it contributes to systemic racism, the impacts that both realizing and not realizing that have had on you, and what you can do to make amends.
Making amends means addressing your white privilege – examining how it allowed you to ignore the collective harm you’ve contributed to because it personally benefited you – and to not run away from that truth.
This raises a crucial question: How will you realign your actions with your values to not contribute to collective harm? It begins with listening to the perspectives of people of color – and learning how your ignorance upholds a legacy of systemic racism.
4. The Practice of Compassionate Truth-Telling and Consciousness-RaisingInquiry
Since systemic harm happens in relationships, part of the healing process involves taking actions to restore those relationships with both people of color and with white people.
Since you’ve been able to be in touch with the pain and take responsibility for having caused harm, you are now able to do the same with those you have harmed (if they agree to discussing it with you) and with your community of white peers so that they may learn from your experiences.
In holding the space for us to share our truth, we are more able to hold space for others to as well – even when that truth is different from our own. In engaging other white people in particular, you can work towards raising consciousness, interrogating biases, and confronting the impact of those biases on people of color.
5. The Practice of Shared Envisioning and Compassionate Non-Cooperation
When we view someone as our adversary, then much of our time and energy goes into handling the resistance in our relationship. However, once we're reconnected through compassion and understanding for our respective truths, we're able to identify our shared values of ending racism.
Only then can we co-create a vision that is inspiring and strategic in order to advance our shared goals. But sometimes, we do not want to collaborate together or are unable to co-create a vision and that's okay. Then we can choose to not work with them – without making them wrong for it or retaliating against them for it.
Instead, we can wish them continued healing and growth so that we may be able to create together in the future for a more just, loving world.
"Compassionate Activism has absolutely and powerfully impacted and shaped a new way for me to look at everything. More than ever before, I’m able to move closer to the most painful and raw situations in my life to more deeply understand what I am experiencing. Even if I’m upset with them, I’m also much more able to understand where other folks are coming from. I’m seeing the impact of this program playing out almost daily in my life!" -Bernardita
Compassionate Activism has touched upon so much of what I needed in my life. Just the other day I caught myself in an interaction with my husband, and I was able to pause in the middle of it and ask him "What are you feeling right now?" I saw that the situation didn't need to escalate into anything, I could instead address the problem head on without all the trouble. What it all comes down to is communicating, and that's been an invaluable lesson. - Esther
How the Online Program Works
Doing this work in community is critical to learning how to create a more just, loving world right now. Here's how we offer that in this program:
Two 3 -hour sessions on applying the Compassionate Activism model to white supremacy
Six 90-min sessions guiding you through the step-by-step healing process
1-on-1 coaching sessions
Three 1-on-1 coaching sessions with Sandra and Dara via Skype or telephone
Private Facebook Group
A private Facebook group exclusively for participants to support each other
Lifetime access to the video recordings and transcriptions for each session
Limited individualized guidance from Sandra and Dara via email
Costs and Logistics
1. How much does this 10-week online program cost?
This social justice training 10-week live program costs only $297 USD. This all-inclusive fee gives you access to:
Two 3-hour Training Sessions on how to free yourself from toxic whiteness using the Compassionate Activism model
Six 90-minute weekly Practice Sessions to learn the step-by-step process and get group coaching and guidance around implementing them
Three 1-on-1 coaching sessions to provide you with customized individual support from Sandra and Dara
Limited email support to get individual feedback from Sandra and Dara
A private Facebook group to connect with other program members
Unlimited access to the video recordings of all sessions for later viewing
Free access to all future training programs on healing from toxic whiteness
2. Is there any way I could pay a reduced fee?
While we need to make the program financially sustainable, we are also committed to making it accessible to people with more limited financial means. So we offer a few different alternative payment options:
(Registration has ended, so these options are not currently available).
Installment Plan: For people who would like to pay in 3 monthly payments of $99 USD each.
Group Discount: For groups of 3 or more people enrolling together.
25% Returning Customer Discount: For people who have enrolled in a previous Everyday Feminism program.
Scholarships: For people with limited financial means.
Sponsorships: For people who would like to pay for someone else to take the program.
Please note that only one option can be used at a time.
3. What is the schedule for the online program?
This 10-week program begins Sat. October 8th and includes two Saturday Training Sessions and six weekly Practice Sessions. The dates for each of these are as follows:
Saturday Oct 8th, 1-4 pm ET / 10 am - 1 pm PT
Saturday Oct. 15th, 1-4 pm ET / 10 am - 1 pm PT
Tuesday Oct. 18th, 8-9:30 pm ET / 5-6:30 pm PT
Thursday Nov. 3rd, 8-9:30 pm ET / 5-6:30 pm PT
Thursday Nov. 10th, 8-9:30 pm ET / 5-6:30 pm PT
Thursday Nov. 17th, 8-9:30 pm ET / 5-6:30 pm PT
Thursday Dec. 1st, 8-9:30 pm ET / 5-6:30 pm PT
Thursday Dec. 8th, 8-9:30 pm ET / 5-6:30 pm PT
If you don't see your time zone, please use this time zone converter (you can use 8 pm Eastern Time to convert it).
4. I can't make the live sessions! Will a video of the training and Q&A sessions be available later?
Yes! We'll send all participants each session's video recordings to watch at your convenience.
5. How will I be able to join the online live sessions?
We use Zoom, a webinar software that has group video, a chat box, break out rooms, and other features to keep the training interactive and engaging. Zoom is totally free for you to download and use.
If you don't have a web camera, no worries, you can always participate without video. You will also be able to call into the sessions using your phone in case your microphone isn't working or you can't get to a computer.
"Compassionate Activism has given me specific tools to learn how to respond to situations instead of reacting to them by waiting to engage with others until I've taken care of my needs first. I've always felt that I would be much more effective in reaching people and opening their hearts if I could have compassion for where they're coming from. That's the magic of this course — it is cultivating our imagination of what's possible." - Suzanne
Who Is This Program For?
This program was created for white people who:
Understand that white privilege and racism are serious problems and are committed to building a more just, loving, and equitable world.
Are tired of witnessing the daily manifestations of white supremacy within and around them and want to do something about it in their own life.
Want to move beyond merely acknowledging things like racism, white privilege, and white supremacy to actively undoing the hold these forces of oppression have over their lives.
Are ready to do the emotional work necessary to get to the next level in their social justice journey.
Please note: While this program is geared towards helping white people heal from toxic whiteness, it is also open to people of color interested in better understanding the emotional resistance that many white people have to addressing racism within themselves and their communities.
Frequently Asked Questions
I won't be able to make all the sessions, will they be recorded? Yes! All sessions will be recorded and the recordings available to watch at your convenience. We'll also send you all the powerpoints and transcripts as well.
Is this a part of Compassionate Activism? Yep! This program uses the Compassionate Activism model (explained in more depth above) to help in the specific context of white people healing from toxic whiteness.
Is this only for white people? This workshop will be open to people of color, but the focus will be on white people's racial experience of whiteness. So it'll be primarily attended by white people.
Are you saying that white people are inherently toxic? What do you mean by “toxic whiteness”? Similar to toxic masculinity, toxic whiteness is something that was created by white supremacy and is not inherent to white people. Like all social constructs, whiteness doesn't have to be toxic – it's just that the way it predominantly exists today is indeed toxic. This becomes clearer when you take a historical view of how toxic whiteness was invented. In the early 19th century, the wealthy northwestern European landowners who colonized the Americas created the social construct of whiteness to prevent poor Europeans (like the Irish and Italians) from joining with enslaved Africans and indigenous folks against the ruling class. In return for access to what was once denied to them in addition to people of color (e.g. land, education, and jobs), poor Europeans had to disconnect from their cultural heritage, the history of why they left oppressive Europe, and truth about how they were being exploited by wealthy white people into oppressing others. It was a pretty raw deal that manipulated them into acting against people of color and their own well-being in exchange for white privilege (which continues to happen today). That's why it's important for white people to free themselves from this toxic whiteness, which was created by white supremacy and has unconsciously conditioned them to this day. These liberating steps provide the building blocks for creating a radical anti-racist white identity – the focus for a future Compassionate Activism program!
Why is it centered on white people? It's not appropriate for white people to center their emotional struggles with racism in cross-racial spaces with people of color present. People of color are much more severely impacted, but all too often, white folks minimize and deny their pain and trauma. At the same time, white people can't avoid getting stuck in their emotional struggles around racism if they don't process the feelings. And doing healing work in community and not alone makes a big difference. So having a separate anti-racist healing space for white people, led by a person of color who can hold them accountable, is important for white supremacy to be dismantled.
Why is a person of color leading this? Isn't that just more of people of color doing taxing emotional labor for white people? True, it's not the responsibility of individual people of color to educate white people around white supremacy. And at the same time, it's important for white people to follow the guidance of socially conscious people of color. That way, they can appropriately engage in racial justice work without accidentally perpetuating white supremacy in the process. So how do we balance this tension at Everyday Feminism? By doing this work as an organization and not as individuals. We make sure the people of color involved have the deep emotional capacity and strong desire to do this work with white people – plus the institutional support to take care of themselves in any way that's needed.
Why do white people need healing from racism? Ever notice how far some white people go to deny the existence of racism – even though the evidence is everywhere? This is an example of how white people are affected by white supremacy. They benefit from white privilege, but at the end of the day, facing the reality of it is emotionally difficult. It's this pain and grief that needs healing – so that white folks can process them instead of running away from them by denying the painful reality of racism around them. Of course, our first priority is still to get society to acknowledge the traumatic impact of white supremacy on people of color – and helping white people learn how to do this is part of that work.
What about the healing that people of color need? People of color definitely deserve and need support with healing from the trauma of white supremacy! That's why our first two Compassionate Activism programs were designed to support marginalized people's healing and why we are just now beginning to offer programs to help privileged people stop perpetuating everyday oppression. We also intend to offer more programs specifically for people of color in the near future too.
"Healing is essential to our humanity and dignity. The healing practices offered in Compassionate Activism are a tool for working with our embodied experiences and transforming them to find more ease. Sandra is a compassionate and skilled trainer who sees the whole systems and intersections at work in informing our lived experiences. This is bound to be a great space for anyone committed to healing their pain and effecting change." - Danielle Saint Louis, Executive Director of Brooklyn Zen Center
Meet the Trainers
SANDRA KIM, Lead Trainer and Founder of Everyday Feminism
Sandra Kim founded and leads Everyday Feminism, the largest online magazine helping millions of people to apply intersectional feminism to their real life. She developed Compassionate Activism out of her commitment to helping people free themselves from the suffering caused by systemic oppression.
Compassionate Activism provides the very practices that Sandra learned from Zen Buddhism and other Buddhism-influenced professional and personal development programs that were instrumental to her becoming the person and leader she is today. While it took her a decade of developing a strong healing and spiritual practice, she created the Compassionate Activism model so you can access them and incorporate them into your life on a much faster timeline!
DARA SILVERMAN, Support Trainer and Racial Justice Organizer
Dara Silverman is a organizer, writer, and trainer who has been building movements for social justice for over 20 years. As the former National Coordinator of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Dara built out the biggest US national network of white people taking action for racial justice and raised over $500,000 for Black-led organizing. She currently offers consulting and training to organizations and leaders and is organizing to stop Trump.