As children, we do not choose to take on our white conditioning, but as adults we can choose to undo it. The UNtraining provides a challenging and compassionate environment for white people to look at personal and collective issues around race. The program offers tools and practices to investigate white cultural conditioning, to uncover the ways it shapes our experience of ourselves and people of color, and to support change in ourselves and in the world.
Why Only White People?
We believe that white people have the responsibility to educate ourselves about racism, rather than expecting people of color to be our teachers. In white caucus work, people are more free to express difficult feelings and to examine complex situations around race. This honesty, often held back in mixed groups to avoid embarrassment or for fear of causing harm, is crucial for learning and healing. Sharing common experiences breaks down two other aspects of white conditioning: isolation and the taboo of talking about personal issues around race.
White Privilege and the Cost of Whiteness
The premise of the UNtraining is that we are all affected by racism. No matter how aware our parents may have been, how liberal, loving or spiritual we may be, as white people we have been trained to be "white" by media, educational systems and continual subtle feedback from those around us.
Although it may not be obvious at first, we benefit from racism in our daily lives through the privileges associated with light-colored skin. Even less apparent, however, is the cost to us as white people living within this hierarchical system. Many of us live with guilt, fear, and defensiveness. Our curiosity is stifled and our passions blunted. This keeps us from speaking out and taking action against racism. Or if we do, we may come across as righteous and judgmental, which is rarely helpful or effective.
How can white people reconcile heartfelt antiracist beliefs with the invisible power of this white training?