Social change Understanding whiteness

Understanding Whiteness Study Group

Understanding Whiteness Study group

After the Community Conversation on 19th November 2021, we will continue the journey of Understanding Whiteness in relation to our NVC practice, there will be a 6 month series of sessions to study and apply to our own contexts

  •   Janet E Helms (2020) A Race is a Nice Thing to Have A Guide to Being a White Person or Understanding the White Persons in Your Life 3rd edition San Diego:Cognella
  •   Emma Dabiri (2021) What White People Can Do Next From Allyship to Coalition  Penguin Random House UK


It’s like a book group.

You will need access to both books, either buying, ordering from local library (order now!) or sharing.

We’ll begin in January or February 2022

1 meeting a month for 1.5 hours.

We meet for 6 sessions.

We will rotate hosting the session. If you host the session, your task is to:

  • Come with some reflections on the material to begin the conversation
  • Facilitate ‘something to happen’
  • Clarify chapters to focus on in next session

We will definitely begin with weekend morning sessions and either continue with these or also include Midweek lunchtime options

Please try to commit to all 6 sessions.

The Conflict Transformation Weave (CTW) will continue to support this learning in NVC UK networks. Kate Gard Cooke has also been instrumental  in bringing this group into being, contributing resource suggestions and energy.

The Books

In A Race is a Nice Thing to Have, Dr Janet Helms explores 6 lenses of whiteness, through which we interpret racial events, race and racism; and how important it is for white people to understand and free themselves from the ‘rules of whiteness.

She advocates asking the question ‘How is racism playing out in our organisation or network?’

In What white people can do next, Emma Dabiri discusses how overly focusing on ‘performative allyship’ and worrying about saying or doing the wrong thing replaces the solidarity we need.  She explores how we need to be talking about class, capitalism and sources of oppression.  She advocates building a coalition around shared interests, figuring out people’s material needs and working together to organise a workplace or community.

In the meantime,here are a couple of resources, you can watch/read to get a feel for the writers.

  1. “A Race is a Nice Thing to Have” w/ Dr. Janet E. Helms (US context) in discussion with Maryam M. Jernigan-Noesi (1 hr 22 mins)
  2. Emma Dabiri in discussion (1 hour) with Ellie Mae O’Hagan (UK & Ireland context)
  3. White racial identity and anti-racist education (article by Sandra Lawrence and Beverly Tatum
  4. Racial identity development – facilitator guide (uses the 6 schemas Dr Helms addresses)