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A Message for White People on Staying Present in the Movement for Black Lives

Over the past three months, there has been a significant increase in the number of White people discussing and posting on social media about racism in the United States, our complacency in it and the importance of doing anti-racism work. While many people are analyzing why that is, what we know for sure is that currently four of the top 10 books on the New York Times best sellers list are about anti-racism. Several weeks ago a 23-year-old book by Beverly Tatum titled, “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” landed itself on the best seller list as well. With the new rise in interest of White people on matters of race, there are also plenty of worthy critiques about the way we are participating – critiques on which texts people should read, who should lead those conversations, if conversations are the best way to begin, etc. This critique on the erasure of black authors is one example.

Some of these messages, particularly if you are new to this work, may seem contradictory for White folks. This image from the Instagram post “Contradictions for White People in Racial Justice Work” was created to underscore some of these assumed contradictions.

[An attempt at an image description for text readers by @Andi Cheney: Image description: On grey and white checkered background, text reads: (header) “contradictions for white people in racial justice work” and a list of contradictions that link to counterparts via arrows in concentric circles. For clarity I will add numbers for linking.

1. “white people are a particular liability in racial justice movements,” connected by arrows to 12 “white people have specific and critical roles in racial justice movements.”

2. “it can feel humiliating to have not participated meaningfully in racial justice work before now, and suddenly want to join” connected by arrows to 11. “in order to grow stronger and win, the movement requires new people to join.”

3. “when you’re working on ending an oppression that you benefit from, people will rightly mistrust you and be hard on you” connected to 10. “when you’re working on ending racism, it’s good to be nice to yourself and patient with yourself”

4. “white activists need to list to, defer to, and take leadership from POC” connected by arrows to 9. “because ‘POC’ is not a monolithic identity that ll believes one thing, white activists need to cultivate their own analysis and judgement over time”

5. “one specific role for white people is being tough about holding one another accountable” connected by arrows to 8. “another key role for white people is extending compassion, care, and patience to other white people”

6. “racial justice work involves white people giving up or giving away their power” connected to 7. “another part of racial justice work is white people strategically using their power rather than hiding it, denying it, or pretending it doesn’t exist”


One of the most important things that those of us who identify as White can do is to keep at it. I remember the first time I heard the words White Supremacy to describe something other than overt, blatant racist behavior. I was at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. My brother, a community organizer, was discussing with a family friend some of the ways White Supremacy was showing up in an organization they had both worked with. I remember thinking: Really? Are you seriously likening the people in this organization with terrorist groups like the KKK?

What I did next significantly changed how I sit in the work. I googled, read and discussed with friends what White Supremacy means in a current context and came to a completely different understanding. I had a similar response when I heard the words White Fragility. After the first paragraph of this article I had a new understanding. Currently, I’m getting curious about my reaction to the movement to abolish the police.

Staying curious and turning toward the concepts and conversations that cause me discomfort has been one of the greatest things I have done for my own growth and effectiveness in this work. This is not a sprint; this is a marathon. Digest the content in a way that allows you to continue. Eventually, you’ll be able to create your own sense of how you fit in the work. Be open to criticism and feedback from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) folks. It is a gift on the journey. In fact, there will likely be well-earned criticism as to why I would choose to center Whiteness in this blog post. Why would I give more resources to those of us that are already well, if not over, resourced? I see this conversation as part of my work in the movement.

The point is, keep leaning in. The quote below continues to be one of my directives to that end. I offer it here in case it is helpful to you.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – The Talmud

Find the texts, the people and the actions that keep you connected, and keep leaning in.

From Gadgets to Growth:The Influence of Technology Innovation on Social Transformation

The decision to mandate antiracism or diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) training should be made carefully. While antiracism training can be valuable and effective when implemented thoughtfully, it is most effective when participants are engaged, willing, and open to the learning process. Mandating it for individuals who are not receptive may lead to a superficial compliance without genuine understanding or behavior change. It can also derail the experience for those who are receptive and came to learn. Models of innovation primarily used in business, marketing, and technology, may provide some insight.

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Juneteenth: What is it? Why is it important? And in what ways can we educate our members and participants?

This post sheds some light on the history of Juneteenth, why it is important and steps you can take to educate and open dialogue for your members and/or participants to talk about it. 

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(Re) Committing to Our Values

The Event Garde team is committed to holding ourselves accountable to our core values. These values serve as the foundation for how we work with one another, our partners, and our clients and it’s important that they continue to be an accurate reflection of who we aim to be. Here's what happened from the intentional revisiting of these values. 

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Understanding and Addressing Unconscious Bias

Bias shows up in our lives every day whether we want it to or not. Having a bias is how our brains naturally work. It doesn't mean that we have done something intentionally wrong or harmful. It does mean that our experiences have created biases that may cloud and negatively impact our actions toward those around us. We must work to understand what bias is, how bias is formed, and how to address it when it does.

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Equitable Practices to Consider before Establishing Indigenous Land Acknowledgements

One of the main goals in doing an indigenous land acknowledgement is to respect and honor Indigenous People and their Tribal Nations and acknowledge the indigenous traditional lands where we do our work. However, one begs the question – is this enough; is it performative?

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Benefits of Professional Accountability Groups

Accountability Groups are becoming common practice - they can serve lots of different functions and mean lots of different things to different people. They are any group of like professionals who want to provide support for, provide personal and professional growth opportunities for, and build relationships with others in their field. Read on for the benefits of these groups.

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