Remember that during our teach-in, white supremacy culture was defined as “the water we swim in”, as a system in which we are all embedded that extends power to and maintains power among white people at the expense of the full participation and well-being of people of color.
Power is therefore one of the most basic concepts we must grapple with as we seek to understand, perceive, confront and dismantle white supremacy culture in our lives, our congregation and our society. In the SafetyPinBox Group Task created for the UU White Supremacy Teach-in, important questions about power are posed: “Who has the power over resources? Who has power over their lives? Who does not? To call for liberation is to radically shift power. We believe that all justice work involves redirecting power from the most powerful (privileged, oppressors) to the most marginalized (the oppressed).”
Our Power Mapping workshop, using material from the aforementioned SafetyPinBox Group Task, will be on Wednesday, May 24th at 7pm. This workshop is intended to help us take a close look at power in our lives, congregation and society, and how that power moves along racial lines.
Please complete the following homework assignment before attending the workshop and bring your “journals” with you.
Your Homework Assignment
(material below is modified slightly from the SafetyPinBox – Group Task for the UU White Supremcy Teach-in)
“The creation of whiteness and white supremacy is a way to centralize power amongst one group of people. Fighting back against that will require honest and continual assessment of power flows in your life and how to redirect them.”
The homework assignment below is intended to help you “identify streams of power in both your personal life and in your community” in preparation for making a commitment “to [redirect] power in your life in a few tangible ways.”
Rev. Sasha has divided the assignment into 5 days, although much of the work below can be completed in a single sitting by contemplating different settings in your life.
- Day 1
- Grab: a journal, notepad, stack of printer paper, laptop computer or another place where you can jot down notes and reflections throughout the week.
- Look up: the term “sphere of influence”
- Select: a sphere of influence in your life that you can monitor for one week. (If you are completing all assignments at once, simply think of a sphere of influence in your life that you are familiar enough with to reflect upon.)
- Reflect: in your journal, jot down the setting you selected as your sphere of influence and a few details about how you wield influence within that sphere
- Day 2
- Read: the following 2 articles
- A Guide To Power Mapping, from Move To Amend
- Why Black Lives Matter Protesters Are Targeting Democrats And Mostly Ignoring Republicans by Ian Millhiser
- Reflect: in your journal, jot down a few thoughts about how BLM’s strategy in the 2nd article reflects Power Mapping methodology outlined in the first article. Over the next few days, we will be considering ways to similarly redirect power to promote racial justice in our lives and our congregation.
- Read: the following 2 articles
- Day 3
- Reflect: in your journal, jot down the means of power you possess within your networks, including money and influence. Consider your budget and where you spend your money, all your work connections and the social groups to which you belong (personal, religious, educational, family and friend communities and networks). Don’t forget your social media or the barista who gets your morning coffee! Now list all the ways big and small that you hold power. Now, is that power being directed towards white folks? People of color? Are there areas in your life where you exert direct power over people of color?
- Reflect: in your journal, jot down a few thoughts about how power flows in your community. Who are the most marginalized? Consider one group setting that you are involved in during the week and write down who held power in the room and why and how you think power was directed.
- Day 4:
- Consider: over the course of this week you’ve been spending some time thinking about power. Now is the time to consider ways to commit to making some changes, whether it is buying Black, changing your work relationships, shifting leadership in your church, or even making sure to over-tip service workers of color.
- Reflect: in your journal, identify at least three specific flows of power in your life or in your community that you will take tangible steps to redirect to people of color. Consider sharing your commitments with a few close friends and on social media; this will help you remain accountable to your commitments.
- Day 5:
- Review: the white supremacy iceberg shared during the Teach-in
- Look Up: 5 items listed on the iceberg that are unfamiliar to you
- Reflect: in your journal, jot down the 5 items from the iceberg that were unfamiliar to you, and the following 5 items from the iceberg mentioned in our Teach-in as examples of white supremacy culture in UU congregations: cultural appropriation, tokenism, colorblindness, emphasizing intentions over impact, and not believing the experiences of people of color who have said they’ve experienced racism. For each of the 10 items, briefly jot down how that example of covert or overt white supremacy culture directs power away from people of color to white people. Next, jot down at least 3 ways that power might be redirected in UU congregations to people of color.