The University of Massachusetts-Amherst is running a program for white students to become “co-conspirators” for racial justice, and will take time to deal with “white sentiments.”
“White Allies Against Racism: How to be a co-conspirator for racial justice”, is a program organized this spring by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Racial Justice and Youth Engaged Research and encourages participants to “imperfectly fight against racism every day to unlearn its whiteness and put our power at stake for racial justice.”
The program is open to students and faculty, and the application asks, in part, for their race and ethnic identity as well as their history of involvement in racial justice efforts.
Participants will “understand our complicity in white supremacy and deepen their knowledge of how it works (at UMass),” “develop tools for accountability and sustained action to end racism,” and “be prepared to implement skills in their departments, programs and areas of influence,” according to a description of the program.
A document explaining why the program uses the term “white co-conspirators” rather than “allies” says it believes it is essential to allow time for white people to “unpack, process and unlearn a lifetime of supremacist ideology white” to advance racial justice.
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“At CRJ, we believe that holding intentional, time-bound spaces for white people to decompress, process and unlearn a lifetime of white supremacist ideology in responsible community with other white people is essential to working Promoting Racial Justice,” the document states.
The document also states that the program will adopt Pippi Kessler’s argument that “white caucuses or affinity spaces play an important role for white people who fight against racism”.
For example, the program incorporates Kessler’s model by “processing white feelings,” “recycling,” and “taking action to shift power.”
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“Dealing with white feelings: working on emotions that often arise in white people such as sadness, shame, paralysis, confusion, denial, etc. “, indicates the document. “Action to shift power: take action to redistribute resources, change who is in power, change institutions.”
The program gives “white participants the skills to perpetually question their own whiteness in order to stand in solidarity with BIPOC folx and take bold action to end racism,” the document says.