In the second week of April, I attended the 14th annual White Privilege Conference (WPC), held this year in Seattle. More than 2000 people of all races - students, educators, nonprofit staff, social workers, counselors, parents and activists - attended this year's gathering, "The Color of Money," focusing on the intersections of class and race.
WPC, founded by African American educator Eddie Moore, "aims to create a learning community in which participants engage in a challenging educational experience as respectful community members." At the opening ceremony, Moore reminded the attendees that the work was grounded in relationships. "Some things," he told us, "are non-negotiable: handshakes and hugs." A Community Agreement emphasizes the philosophy of “understanding, respecting and connecting.”
I presented a workshop (twice) on using children's books to spark conversations about class and race (next post). My experience was abundantly challenging and educational, and the community was indeed full of respect and opportunities to connect, around commonalities and across all kinds of differences.
I was reminded once again of how useful it is to continue to put myself in situations that stir up awareness of my own race and class privilege, let me see the patterns that are so often invisible, and to move through discomfort to new learnings and more freedom. For anyone on this journey, I highly recommend the experience.
WPC 15 is scheduled for spring 2014 Madison, Wisconsin. Maybe I'll see you there.