Voices and Viewpoints

‘Roots Deeper Than Whiteness’: Undoing White Supremacy and Socialization Through White Awake

by Chaddrick James-Gallaway / Mar 22, 2019

 “White privilege is an absence of the consequences of racism. An absence of structural discrimination, an absence of your race being viewed as a problem first and foremost.”
— Reni Eddo-Lodge from Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

White Awake is a social justice program that focuses on the creation and facilitation of educational resources meant to dismantle white supremacy by providing workshops for white people. White Awake focuses on highlighting the intricacies of what it means to be a white person by providing an understanding of how whiteness has impacted various aspects of society (e.g., the economy and laws created). White Awake put the onus on white people to search for their own white racial understanding while deconstructing what it means to be white and using white supremacy as a tool to further white interest while oppressing People of Color, specifically African-Americans and Native Americans.  

White Awake takes a firm stand that white supremacy socialized and manipulated white people to believe they were racially superior compared to other races. White people have a responsibility to undo the harmful socialization they have learned in order to spawn social change and help create a socially just world. To that end, White Awake uses white-only caucus spaces where participants analyze the conditions of their whiteness to undo white supremacist socializations. The focus of the caucus groups is to understand, omit, and reject racial superiority that comes with being at the top of the racial hierarchy since racism has uplifted whites and torn down countless People of Color.

If you take a course through White Awake, you will learn that race is not biologically based but a social construction that was made by whites and mobilized to produce racial inequality and stratification. White Awake classes also show that racism is not something that only happens on an individual basis due to how a white person treats a Person of Color. Additionally, racism creates a social hierarchy that gives race-based advantages to whites based on the way society is structured. White Awake believes that to move social justice and human rights work forward, whites must understand how the system of racism and white supremacy works together and how they contribute to the system of racism and white supremacy.

While taking a course with White Awake, you will learn about race and racism and much more. Session attendees will discover the role of capitalism in society and its impact on race relations and racism. White Awake believes that capitalism is a system that focuses on profit over individuals and their freedoms. Due to capitalism and the need for high profit, exploitation of material resources and people are a constant. White Awake connects white supremacy to capitalism by highlighting the use of white supremacy and capitalism in the chattel slavery of black Africans. White slave owners were an elite ruling class that often determined the laws that shaped the foundations of the U.S. for generations to come.

In addition, White Awake connects white supremacy and capitalism to the genocide and land seizure of Native Americans and U.S. imperialism and colonization abroad, all of which have affected many People of Color. White Awake challenges its white participants to understand that the system of capitalism being used today further privileges white supremacy and therefore white people.

To mobilize racial healing that has affected People of Color, White Awake challenges white people to take a role in being part of the solution to correct "specific harms of colonization, genocide, enslavement, and imperialism." (White Awake). Of course, White Awake is not suggesting that whites do social justice work on their own. As an example, the organization provides instruction on how whites can demonstrate and perform acts of solidarity with People of Color. However, White Awake encourages even those who are committed to social justice to spend time interrogating the atrocities of whiteness, racism, and white supremacy, since these things have an invaluable effect on how whites work with People of Color.

Individuals who take part in the White Awake sequence have access to many resources, some of which are listed below.

  • Accessible online and in-person workshops
  • An informative social-media presence, blog, and newsletter
  • A Web-based leadership network that supports a growing international leadership base
  • A website with free curriculum
  • Best practices for white caucusing and group learning
  • Links to external resources
White Awake records each session and attendance is not mandatory. Learn more about White Awake.
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