Accountability spaces

November 2020

Just because the Sanctuary Zone is already set up and running, don’t assume that it cannot continue to be a space of learning, diversity, acceptance, and change. There is so much happening in the Sanctuary Zone that truly we are going to make progress only because we are all working together. You came to the Sanctuary Zone for a reason. Thank you for being here (or coming here!).

One way to foster learning, diversity, acceptance, and change involves disseminating the right information. To this end, in January we will be starting each day with a presentation from Bias Scene BIPOC Support Services (A.K.A. BSBS, A.K.A. BS2, A.K.A. BS²). In addition to reporting on any overt anti-humanistic expressions by Zone members, presentations will cover the latest microaggressions and micro-invalidations and the harm they have caused.

mass murderer Christopher Columbus
Racism in America started with Christopher Columbus.

This information will empower you to attend a mandatory morning breakout session. Zone residents who identify as white are directed to their community Accountability Space. Zone residents who identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color are directed to any convenient Healing Space for Persons of Color. Everyone is invited to both sessions, but you are expected to attend only one that corresponds better to your identity.

These sessions will be conversational and free-flowing as opposed to structured. Please know that these sessions will not be recorded, and the facilitators will be there to hold space for the participants to speak openly and honestly and ask questions.

Everyone should be eager to get this program rolling, so here are 41 starting points to consider for those attending sessions in our White Accountability Spaces.

Common racist behaviors and attitudes of white people

  1. believe they have “earned” what they have, rather than acknowledge the extensive white privilege and unearned advantages they receive; believe that if people of color just worked harder …
  2. not notice the daily indignities that people of color experience; deny them and rationalize them away with PLEs (perfectly logical explanations)
  3. work to maintain the status quo and protect the advantages and privileges they receive
  4. believe that white cultural norms, practices, and values are superior and better
  5. internalize the negative stereotypes about people of color and believe that whites are smarter and superior to people of color
  6. want people of color to conform and assimilate to white cultural norms and practices
  7. accept and feel safer around people of color who have assimilated and are “closer to white”
  8. blame people of color for the barriers and challenges they experience; believe that if they “worked harder” they could “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”
  9. believe that people of color are not competent and are only hired/promoted to fill quotas
  10. interrupt and talk over people of color
  11. resent taking direction from a person of color
  12. dismiss and minimize frustrations of people of color and categorize the person raising issues as militant, angry, having an attitude, working their agenda, not a team player, playing the “race card,” etc.
  13. focus on their “good intent” as whites, rather than on the negative impact of their behavior
  14. focus on how much progress we have made, rather than on how much more needs to change
  15. want people of color to “get over it” and move on quickly
  16. get defensive when people of color express their frustrations with current organizational and societal dynamics
  17. “walk on eggshells” and act more distant and formal with people of color
  18. segregate themselves from people of color and rarely develop authentic relationships across race
  19. exaggerate the level of intimacy they have with individual people of color
  20. fear that they will be seen and “found out” as a racist, having racial prejudice
  21. focus on themselves as an individual (I’m not racist; I’m a good white), and refuse to acknowledge the cultural and institutional racism people of color experience daily
  22. pressure and punish whites who actively work to dismantle racism to conform and collude with white racism; criticize, gossip about, and find fault with white change agents
  23. expect people of color to be the “diversity expert” and take the lead in raising and addressing racism as their “second (unpaid) job”
  24. minimize, under-value, ignore, overlook and discount the talents, competencies, and contributions of people of color
  25. rephrase and reword the comments of people of color
  26. ask people of color to repeat what they have just said
  27. assume the white teacher/coach/facilitator/employee, etc., is in charge/the leader; assume people of color are in service roles
  28. rationalize away racist treatment of people of color as individual incidents or the result of something the person of color did/failed to do
  29. dismiss the racist experiences of people of color with comments such as: That happens to me too … You’re too sensitive … That happened because of __, it has nothing to do with race!
  30. judge a person of color as over-reacting and too emotional when they are responding to the cumulative impact of multiple recent racist incidents
  31. accuse people of color of “playing the race card” whenever they challenge racist policies and practices; instead of exploring the probability of negative differential impact based on race, or how racist attitudes and beliefs are operating
  32. if confronted by a person of color, shut down and focus on what to avoid saying or doing in the future, rather than engaging and learning from the interaction
  33. look to people of color for direction, education, and coaching on how to act and what not to do
  34. compete with other whites to be “the good white:” the best ally, the one people of color let into their circle, etc.
  35. if a white person makes a racist comment or action, aggressively confront them and pile on the feedback to distance from them and prove who is a better ally
  36. seek approval, validation, and recognition from people of color
  37. if confronted by a person of color, view it as an “attack” and focus on and critique HOW they engaged, not the original racist comments or behaviors
  38. disengage if feel any anxiety or discomfort
  39. avoid confronting other whites on their racist attitudes and behaviors
  40. when trying to help people of color, feel angry if they don’t enthusiastically appreciate the help
  41. believe there is one “right” way, meaning the “white way.” More productive actions to shift racist dynamics