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White Antiracist Group

By Pam Noli

The White Antiracist Group has met weekly since May of 2020. Their evening sessions are guided and inspired by GLIDE’s universal values: “To engage, sustain, deepen and practice our inner work, learning, conversations, and actions around whiteness that can enable us to act as effective allies, personally, locally and at systemic levels to dismantle racism and white supremacy.”

Our beloved co-founder, Janice Mirikitani, lived the values of GLIDE every single day, and so, for the gathering immediately following her passing, we reflected on her impact on our lives and shared those stories with our entire Congregational Life group. Following that, we broke into smaller groups to share the gratitude we felt for her presence in our lives, and reflected on all of the mentors, teachers, heroes, sheroes, ancestors, etc., who have been part of our individual and collective white anti-racist practices. We shared the gratitude we felt for these people who helped mold our inner resources and wisdom. We reminded ourselves that we don’t do this work alone, that we didn’t get here without the guidance and support of others, including Janice. Those that came before have passed along the torch and we choose to do the same.

Our previous sessions focused on seven categories, all addressing white supremacy and racism. They included systemic racism and supremacy, history and culture, white as a race, forms of racism, antiracist action, racism and the church, communication and the inner work for white bodies that we must do to enable racial justice work and to confront white supremacy in our individual environments.

The authors and content we have studied include Resmaa Menakem, Kristin Neff, Tara Brach, The Chinese Exclusion Act and Asian American history, Rhonda Magee, Isabelle Wilkerson, Ibram X. Kendi, microagressions, David Campt, Cornell West, Glenn Singleton (GLIDE member), Tim Wise, white racial identify, white privilege, and critical race theory which we have been following since December 2020.

Our group meets Thursdays from 5:30-7:00pm. Our structure has changed to two sessions per month: one focused on content, and the other session dedicated to the sharing of personal experiences writing, film, books, art, interactions, and other offerings that are part of our anti-racist practices.

Our 90-minute sessions start with music, a welcome for new participants and an overview of the outcomes for the session. We initiate the meeting with a grounding practice, move to the focus of the session, which could include an overview of the preparation materials participants may have chosen to engage with or a short video, followed by small and large group discussions. The discussion groups have agreed to stay engaged, experience discomfort, speak truth, expect / accept non-closure, maintain confidentiality, respect time, and examine the presence and role of whiteness in all areas of our lives. The sessions end with a final grounding practice. On occasions, we have an “After Hours” gathering for people who want to keep talking.

The White Anti-Racist group is led by Congregational Life leaders David Fredrickson, Winnie Fink, Linda Mantel, and Pam Noli.