OPEN THREAD: White people doing the anti-racist work

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

anne braden

Several friends and colleagues of mine have spoken very highly of the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Training Program For White Social Justice Activists in San Francisco (new applications for the February 2011 start program are due October 1st, y’all!) It’s essentially a 4-plus-month intensive program that includes a volunteer placement in an organization lead by POC.

Here’s an excerpt from the closing ceremony speech about anti-racist sex work organizing and the prison industrial complex by Juliet November, a dear friend and recent graduate of the program who did her volunteer placement at Critical Resistance:

I chose the Anne Braden Program because I wanted to deal with the the ways that I have seen racism and white supremacy divide and destroy our movements and squander our ability to work together eye-to-eye and arm-in-arm. In short, I watched racism painfully and repeatedly fuck things up and completely frustrate my desire to see justice, kindness and peace in my lifetime.

I became a sex work organizer about five years ago when I found out about the mass murder of dozens of sex workers in Vancouver, Canada where my family lives. All were poor and street-based workers, most were aboriginal. I am here today fueled by a very specific goal: to see sex workers stay alive.

So I came to the Anne Braden Program to find out more about what it would take to create safety, justice and self-determination for sex workers who were made disposable through systems of colonialism, white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy.

I grew up poor but spent six years in university and this really only went so far in helping me learn about white anti-racist organizing (ha!). I wanted access to the theory, ideas and histories of anti-racist organizing, but I also wanted to go do it by learning from organizers working primarily in communities of colour.

One of the very unique things about the  Braden program is that it includes a placement in an organization working for racial and economic justice. I asked to be placed with a prison organization because of how criminalization affects every aspect of sex worker’s lives-but in particular sex workers of colour-and I wanted to better understand how I could support and build a kick-ass powerful movement with sex workers of colour.

I’ve also heard of similar programs and projects all over North America that are springing up, challenging white-ness, and looking at ways for white people to do the anti-racist work themselves.

What are your thoughts? Heard of anything cool we should know about?