Tools for White Guys who are Working for Social Change (and other people socialized in a society based on domination)

1. Practice noticing who’s in the room at meetings – how many men, how many women, how many white people, how many people of color, is it majority heterosexual, are there out queers, what are people’s class backgrounds. Don’t assume to know people, but also work at being more aware.

2a. Count how many times you speak and keep track of how long you speak.

2b. Count how many times other people speak and keep track of how long they speak.

3. Be conscious of how often you are actively listening to what other people are saying as opposed to just waiting your turn and/or thinking about what you’ll say next.

4. Practice going to meetings focused on listening and learning; go to some meetings and do not speak at all.

5a. Count how many times you put ideas out to the group.

5b. Count how many times you support other people’s ideas for the group.

6. Practice supporting people by asking them to expand on ideas and get more in-depth, before you decide to support the idea or not.

7a. Think about whose work and contribution to the group gets recognized.

7b. Practice recognizing more people for the work they do and try to do it more often.

8. Practice asking more people what they think about meetings, ideas, actions, strategy and vision. White guys tend to talk amongst themselves and develop strong bonds that manifest in organizing. This creates an internal organizing culture that is alienating for most people. Developing respect and solidarity across race, class, gender and sexuality is complex and difficult, but absolutely critical – and liberating.

9. Be aware of how often you ask people to do something as opposed to asking other people “what needs to be done”.

10. Think about and struggle with the saying, “you will be needed in the movement when you realize that you are not needed in the movement”.

11. Struggle with and work with the model of group leadership that says that the responsibility of leaders is to help develop more leaders, and think about what this means to you.

12. Remember that social change is a process, and that our individual transformation and individual liberation is intimately interconnected with social transformation and social liberation. Life is profoundly complex and there are many contradictions. Remember that the path we travel is guided by love, dignity and respect – even when it is bumpy and difficult to navigate.

13. This list is not limited to white guys, nor is it intended to reduce all white guys into one category. This list is intended to disrupt patterns of domination which hurt our movement and hurt each other. White guys have a lot of work to do, but it is the kind of work that makes life worth living.

14. Day-to-day patterns of domination are the glue that maintain systems of domination. The struggle against capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism and the state, is also the struggle towards collective liberation.

15. No one is free until all of us are free.

From the Colours of Resistance webpage

via RANT Collective : Tools for White Guys who are Working for Social Change (and other people socialized in a society based on domination).

15. December 2010 by Chris Corrigan
Categories: BC, Being, Collaboration, Community, Facilitation, Leadership, Practice | 10 comments

Comments (10)

  1. Thank you and Amen especially to #8. As an African-American female serving in a predominantly white church, I can tell you that I have hit up hard against the powers that be who have it all figured out as to how things should work in “their” church. Those like myself who come alongside to help and help make a difference are often isolated, disregarded and minimized when our ideas are almost seen as heretical.

    You’re right about disrupting patterns of domination. When a group or organization has become accustomed to doing things one way for so long, it can lose sight of that which they do or don’t do that is actually harmful to those whom they should be serving and reaching. God help those of us that come along and upset those entrenched patterns.

  2. I think I have seen this somewhere before, but not in this context. Is this original, or did you modify something that existed? If I am incorrect as to the source, please accept my apologies. My memory may not be sufficient.

  3. I believe I have found it – in a way. It appears to have been circulating for at least the past five years on various socialist websites and blogs. I haven’t found any attribution in any of the instances. Nice list tho that can be applied in many different ways.

  4. And God bless the disrupters that bring us to awareness!

  5. Good stuff! Sounds very “Quaker” to me!

  6. I think those are good “tools” for anyone, including women and minorities. Let’s treat everyone like they are made in the image of God.

  7. “are there out queers”

    I think I would have chosen a different word to use other then “queers”. Yes there are people within the LGBTQ Community that use that word to self identify, but a majority do not – like me :-)

  8. “Are there out queers”? This strikes me as disrespectful and for me negates anything else offered in the article. I suggest to anyone reading the article to find a more reputable source from which to learn.

  9. Mike and Dianne:

    I guess the question that comes up for me is can you live and work with people who call themselves names that you disagree with? The use of the word “queer” might seem disrespectful to you Dianne but can you let someone proudly name themselves that without negating everything they say?

    It’s interesting to think about from which position of privilege we are speaking when we suggest that we have the authority and knowledge to declare someone reputable or not. For me Mike shows one way to just disagree, state his thought and move on while Dianne turns her discomfort with a single word used by marginalized people for a specific purpose into a statement that implies that she has a better reputation than the source of this article. Just interesting to think about why those two different responses seem so different and perhaps what would change with my view of Dianne had she just left the first sentence.

  10. Great list. Have been thinking about this as it applies to the ways in which cis women interact with trans women (in online spaces, as well as IRL ‘meetings’). As a cis woman of color, it’s important for me to keep my privilege in check.