Throughout history there have always been some white people who have worked for racial justice. But history also tells us that work has not always been as effective as it might be. When white anti-racist activists have not worked in accountable relationships with anti-racist people of color, the white activists have often gone astray, developing approaches and perspectives that have not advanced the cause of racial justice and equity. In many cases, real harm was done by well-intentioned but uninformed white activists.
Anti-racist activists and organizers have come to learn that white people need some basic understanding of what it means to organize other white people while working together with people of color. This requires white people to look at ingrained cultural habits that may unconsciously undermine the work. White culture emphasizes action over relationship. White culture also discredits leadership of color. And white culture asserts the primacy of personal freedom and individual acts over collective responses. These and other ingrained features of white culture can make racial justice organizing efforts ineffective, or worse, damaging.
Because white culture has trained white people not to follow the leadership of people of color, white anti-racists commonly feel confused and disoriented by the concept of accountability to leaders of color. They are likely to seek a rule book that lays out clearly catalogued steps to accountability. This workshop does not present a manual or recipe for accountability but seeks to ground participants in an understanding of accountability as a manifestation of responsible and committed relationship. Participants will come away with a clearer sense of principles and guidelines for accountability, as well as resources and tools for practicing accountability in their racial justice work.