June 2023: The Power of Anti-racist Community
Summer is arriving and for many of us that means opportunities to get outside and to gather among community at various festivals, farmer’s markets and/or family reunions. These gatherings offer a wealth of opportunities to apply our ever-evolving antiracist awareness and engage others in meaningful dialogue! Our recent prompts have been about building cross-racial friendships and interrogating the ways in which we can and are embodying the values of the CWC preamble. Reflecting on the rich dialogues of our gatherings, community emerged as a common theme. Folks talked about having found healing, experienced joy, and come to new awakenings through community. Despite a shared craving for more of this healing, joy and expansive insight, many of us have acknowledged being passive in connecting with the CWC community and with other white folks. A long-time attendee of CWC recently shared: “Each month when we are invited to share our contact information to stay connected between meetings …I add my email and phone number. And I started to get frustrated and thought, ‘Meh…why bother?’ Only on the rarest occasions had anyone actually reached out. And then it hit me like a bolt of lightning…I was just as capable of reaching out, but I hadn’t made the effort either. I mean, I truly WANT to connect with other white folks to keep these conversations going. So what’s keeping me from it?” What a powerful curiosity! Since we are CWC, we thought we’d explore the opportunities of community and the barriers that keep us from connecting and building meaningful anti-racist communities with other white folks beyond our monthly gatherings. To help us do that, we will look at a few things. First, we will consider the concept of interdependence, which may be defined as:
an integrated, collaborative approach in which the net effect is much greater than the simple sum of its parts.
experiencing benefit from the value of others around us.
moving away from the myth of independence, and towards relationships where we are all valued and have things to offer (as defined by the Disability Justice Community).
We also want to keep our racial conditioning at the forefront as we reflect on opportunities and challenges to building community with other white folks, so we will use the characteristics of white supremacy culture for those who find that useful. Here are some questions to help us focus our thoughts:
What is my relationship with independence? Interdependence?
What rationalizations or excuses have I used to NOT reach out for deeper conversation with other white folks?
What am I missing, if anything, by NOT seeking community with other white folks outside of CWC gatherings?
What have I gained from connection with other white folks, whether at the beginning of or further along on their antiracism journey?
We hope you are inspired by this month’s prompt, but if not, please join the conversation anyway and come to a gathering ready to share anything that’s on your mind. We look forward to seeing you soon!
P.S. A reminder, Juneteenth is later this month. We encourage you to research and attend* gatherings/events in your own communities.
* Before attending, ensure that gatherings are designed as mixed-race events that intentionally center Black and/or African-Americans. Some events may be intended as sacred healing spaces specific for folks who identify as Black; we want to honor such spaces.
“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.” – David Spangler, spiritual philosopher
"Interdependence made its presence known in my life in an interesting manner. I was once walking next to my dear friend and colleague, Nidhi Goyal, a [blind] disability rights activist. We were heading towards the breakfast hall when I felt myself go weak in the knees. We stopped and I began to lean on her to hold me up. Through a process of mutual assistance, we walked forward. Me leaning on her for support; she turning to me for direction. - Srinidhi Raghavan, Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, and producer