WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A workshop is planned in Wilmington to help white women understand how they are complicit in white supremacy, and make changes to advance racial justice by ending the harms of racism.
"Basically, it's an opportunity for white women to come together as a group and talk about the ways that we've internalized white supremacy and how we can get out from under that, and why it's in our interest to do so," said Kari Points, the workshop designer and a facilitator.
The workshop, titled Finding Freedom: White Women Taking On Our Own White Supremacy, is scheduled for Feb. 9 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in downtown Wilmington. To attend, you must register in advance on EventBrite. The cost of attendance ranges from free to $250 depending on your income level.
During the workshop, a racial justice facilitator will lead the group in sharing stories of how they have maintained white supremacy in an “honest space.” They will then discuss how to make life changes to achieve their goal of a racially just world.
“For us as white people, we’ve often, through our whole lives, had the experience that nobody expects us to name our race or name the ways that our race and our culture and ways of doing things dominate the spaces that everybody occupies and has to live and work in,” said Points.
Workshop participants will create art, increase awareness and resilience in their bodies, and build connections with each other for accountability.
“Shame and guilt never actually helped anybody," Points said. “Moving through those feelings of shame and guilt and actually starting to focus on action, and how we can show up for activism that’s led by people of color, that’s visioned by people of color, in a way that’s constructive, those are the things that people say over and over again are valuable to them throughout the workshop.”
The workshop welcomes a wide range of white women, including those who identify as mixed race, multi-racial, or white passing. People who identify as non-binary, trans, or non-conforming are also welcome.
“Our goal is not actually to be limiting or exclusionary, but this is rare," Points said. "In fact, it’s the only time for most people ever that they’ve sat down in a space that’s consciously anti-racist and also specifically for white women.”
Points said the workshop came into being after organizers saw a statistic that 53 percent of white women voted for President Donald Trump.
“I can understand why a white person would vote for Trump because that’s pretty much what he stands for is white people’s interest and the ways that he sees them," Points said. "But as a woman, to vote for Trump, I couldn’t make sense of that.”
People with all ranges of experience with racial issues are invited.
“I set a tone for it to be a very welcoming environment," Points said. "Some people who are there may have never talked or thought about these issues before. Other people may have been working on these issues for a decade or two decades and it’s welcoming to you wherever you are along that continuum.”
These workshops have been held twice in Durham and once in Greensboro. They hope to hold another workshop in Danville, Va.
Seeing through the culture
During her life, Points came to understand racism in culture. She grew up in a small, rural town in southern Indiana.
“It was and is a very conservative, religious, racist environment, and it was just like the water we all swam in," Points said. “So I couldn’t see racism there when I was a kid.”
When she was 16, Points spent a year in Germany as an exchange student.
“What I witnessed, what was so obvious to me, was how people are racist and xenophobic toward Muslim Turkish people who were in Germany in that time as guest workers and their families,” she recalled.
When Points returned home, she saw her own culture from a new perspective.
“I think we tend to think of racism, or especially the term ‘white supremacy,’ as the worst, like white nationalists in Oregon, or what happened in Charlottesville, the Klan," Points said. “But truthfully, white supremacy is something that permeates and goes through all of our lived experiences, so it can be much more subtle than that.”