Today’s topic is Getting at the Roots of Whiteness and Anti-Blackness 

01 Learn

NOTE: We recognize that today’s prompt is fairly robust, and suggest that you think about spending some time over the weekend working through it. 

Gita Gulati-Partee and Maggie Potapchuk, in an article titled “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity,” write “Processes aimed at racial equity change can overlook the privileged side of inequity.” Work for racial justice in our food and other systems must include naming and de-centering whiteness, white privilege, and white superiority/supremacy, which racism is designed to protect and uphold. In other words, It is important not just to name white privilege, but also the power that is used to preserve that privilege – white superiority/supremacy.
One way to do this is to understand that there is a continuum of professed “white superiority” that is not simply about what may come to our minds as the most extreme forms (think Ku Klux Klan). We suggest looking at this framework that points out overt and covert aspects of white supremacy as well as this one web page that references aspects of white dominant/supremacist culture  

And as we consider “whiteness,” it is important to realize that it was created, defined and continues to be perpetuated in opposition to something else – “blackness.” As Robin DiAngelo says in this short 3 min video clip (please watch!). “There is something profoundly anti-Black in this country and in this culture.” There are, as she says, “bookends,” with white on one end and black on the other. Where you are on this continuum shapes your experience of racism – the whiter, the more opportunity, the darker, the more oppression. For more on officially sanctioned anti-Blackness, see some of john a. powell’s longer talk (video format; john comes on at 17:30 mark).   

02 Reflect

  • NOTE: If any of these reflections are particularly triggering, please listen to your body. There is a difference between discomfort and panic. Pay attention to your “window of tolerance,” and take breaks or pace yourself as needed. 
  • What comes up for you as you review the framework on overt and covert forms of white supremacy, and consider the history and continued reality of anti-blackness?  What thoughts, feelings, sensations and images come up? 
  • How do you see some of the covert forms of white supremacy showing up in your work, studies and volunteerism in the food system? How does anti-blackness show up?

03 Act

04 Digging Deeper, Time PermittingFor more about whiteness and anti-blackness, see these additional resources:

Short article: Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person
Short article: Ferguson must force us to face antiblackness
Short video (trailer): Making Whiteness Visible
Longer video: Birth of a White Nation
Longer video: Watch more of the video referenced above: john a. powell’s talk on state sanctioned anti-blackness
Podcast episodes: “Seeing White” Series on Scene On Radio (episodes 31-45)
Brief article: About Whiteness