Whites against White Supremacy: A New Generation of Activists Takes on the Challenge of Organizing White People for Racial Justice

By Nguyen, Vy | Colorlines Magazine, November-December 2007 | Go to article overview

Whites against White Supremacy: A New Generation of Activists Takes on the Challenge of Organizing White People for Racial Justice


Nguyen, Vy, Colorlines Magazine


WHEN LILIA GARCIA BROUGHT her Latina mom and her white partner along with her to a July 2007 event introducing a relatively new group of white anti-racist activists, she was looking to introduce her loved ones to a space where they could explore ideas together about race and its social construction.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"I'm very inspired by the potential of what this represents," said Garcia, an activist in Los Angeles. "What excites me is that as the dominant, privileged group within this social construction, whites were saying 'this [system] doesn't work for me.'"

AWARE-LA (Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere), which put on the event, is part of a small but growing number of groups across the country that are trying to bring organizing and alliance-building strategies into a field that since the 1990s has been largely focused on consciousness-raising, solidarity work with people of color and the academia-created phenomenon of white studies.

The new and growing wave of grassroots, white, anti-racist organizations across the country and their increasing focus on organizing in white communities poses opportunities as well as provocative questions about the role of antiracist whites in racial and social justice work.

The modern white anti-racist movement can be traced from the early days of the civil rights movement and groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was made up of both Blacks and whites, and upheld integration as a goal. But activists came to question that aim in a white supremacist society, as well as examining the limits of nonviolent resistance. With the emergence of the Black Power movement in the mid-1960s, SNCC became an all-Black organization, and people of color challenged white activists to work on racism with whites directly. Militant radical white groups emerged--such as the Weather Underground and the Young Patriots--and allied with groups like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords.

According to Jeff Hitchcock, executive director of the Study of White American Culture and an organizer with the White Anti-Racist Community Action Network in Roselle, New Jersey, SNCC's call for white activists to begin a process of leadership in white communities was a pivotal moment in anti-racist history. Hitchcock cites subsequent key publications that presented "what white people were called upon to do and why," including For Whites Only by Robert Terry in 1970, the handbook "White Awareness" by Judith Katz and, later, Peggy McIntosh's 1988 paper "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack."

The destruction COINTELPRO wrought on people of color movements similarly devastated the white radical organizations of the time. White anti-racists in the late 1970s borrowed from feminist models and focused on consciousness-raising, which became for some a primary vehicle to continue work that had in other ways been crushed, but was viewed by another segment of the white resistance movement as a retreat from an agenda that had placed Blacks at the forefront. The '80s and '90s saw a continuance of consciousness-raising training centers for white activists, with the formation of the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, along with the development of a more mainstream school of training that moved towards human relations, multiculturalism and diversity, and away from anti-oppression and anti-racism. Antiracist white activism in the 1980s was fragmented into anti-apartheid work, localized fights against the KKK and a punk rock anti-racist youth scene that directly took on hate groups.

White studies, which reached its height in the mid-'90s, began in the late '80s through classes, doctoral dissertations and, in a few cases, university programs (though it has not reached the level of departmentalization). The field studies the cultural and institutional aspects of white privilege and the construction of white culture but has been criticized for its lack of connection to social change efforts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Whites against White Supremacy: A New Generation of Activists Takes on the Challenge of Organizing White People for Racial Justice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.