The next step in my racial awareness journey

by Cindy Baratta

I recently completed the 5-session workshop entitled “White People Challenging Racism (WPCR) – Moving from Talk to Action.” I signed up for this with some trepidation, not knowing what to expect. I am a white woman in my 60s and, to be honest, in the early stage of my racial awareness journey.

The workshop had a huge impact on me, and I know it’s an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Was it at times disturbing? Yes. It was difficult to come face-to-face with my own unearned white privilege, to recognize that race is a social construct created by white people long ago to allow for the oppression of others, and to understand the many ways that I participate in and benefit from our system of white supremacy. 

In WPCR, I learned about the different kinds of oppression and how they intersect, how stereotypes affect children, how I can have difficult conversations about race, and how the norms of a white supremacy culture put oppressed groups at a disadvantage. I learned that I need to “unlearn” many things I was taught as a young person about American history. And I’m shocked to know that we are still teaching these untruths to our children today.

Challenging racism in my own life

I believe that many of us have spent most of our lives trying to avoid thinking about these issues in a personal way. We say to ourselves, “I’m a good person. Sure, there is injustice in the world, but what does that have to do with me and what can I do about it?” This workshop brings it home. For me, it was a powerful exercise to write down my own personal racial awareness journey. For the first time in over 40 years, I found a safe place to talk about the Black roommate I had in college and how inept I was at making her feel welcome. Would I handle this situation differently today? And why have I found it so hard to speak up about the (unintentional and intentional) microaggressions that have occurred in my own family over the years. Through role plays, this course taught me helpful tools to use in these situations.

WPCR does not leave you overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame. Instead, it empowers you to identify ways you can make a difference. We all have these opportunities in our lives. I believe that WPCR has helped me to recognize and challenge racism when I see it in my own life.

Learning from others

A word about how the workshop is structured: WPCR is for white people and taught by white people. Appropriately, the founder and force behind it is a Black woman, Lavette Coney. Like many WPCR graduates, I am inspired by Lavette and hope to find ways to be an ally in her important work going forward. The facilitators are well-trained, passionate about this work, and armed with an impressive library of curated readings, videos, and personal stories. Each cohort is limited to 8 people, allowing the two facilitators to provide individualized attention to each participant. I liked the fact that participants were at different stages in their journeys, so we could all learn from each other.

I strongly recommend this workshop to anyone who wants to learn/unlearn, grow, and take action in their own lives against systemic racism. At this time of reckoning, perhaps it’s the least we can do to live up to our responsibility as Americans.

Further information

Each WPRC: Moving from Talk to Action Workshop is composed of five sessions, lasting two hours each, for five weeks in a row. There are 8 people and 2 experienced trainers from the WPRC organization, in each workshop. Each person that signs up to take the workshop must commit to participate for the entire 5 weeks of the workshop and commit to doing the “homework” prior to each workshop.

Wednesday March 9, 2022 – April 6 from 7pm – 9pm for 5 weeks.

Thursday April 14, 2022 – May 12 from 10am – 12pm for 5 weeks.

There is a fee of $50 for the 5-week WPCR Workshop. This fee only covers a portion of the cost that IMC will pay. Space is limited so if you are interested in signing up for one of these workshops, please use THIS FORM.