This group is intended for white-identified people who want to be better allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators for racial justice, and who are interested in doing the internal work of processing difficult emotions that come up around race (some may call this White Fragility). The goal of this group is to increase awareness of and work through some of these emotional experiences that can come up and get in the way of our ability to stay engaged and fully present during interactions across race and privilege. To do this we will practice building our capacity to be with challenging emotions. Our hope in creating a group just for white-identified people is to provide a space where we can build awareness of our white conditioning and fragility, and practice taking responsibility for behaviors that come from our white conditioning without the risk of harming people of color.
There are three things we are looking for in participants:
1. Self-identify as white
2. Already have some familiarity with topics of white privilege and systemic and historical racism. For example, you may have seen 13th, or read The New Jim Crow, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, White Fragility, or A People’s History of the United States. Maybe you listen to podcasts like CodeSwitch, Uncivil, Hoodrat to Headwrap, or Nice White Parents.
3. Participants have noticed an emotional experience getting in the way of their ability to show up for racial justice in the way that they would like to. Here are just a few examples of those kind of experiences:
-Hearing a person of color’s experience of racism as a personal attack
-Finding yourself keeping silent during conversations around race, not wanting to say the wrong thing
-Having a fear of being seen as racist
-Experiencing shame or anger when others raise the topic of whiteness
-Not being able to tolerate expressions of anger by Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)
-Feeling apathetic or incapable of communicating your thoughts and feelings when you witness, hear about, or experience racial injustice
This group will be co-facilitated by two Associate Marriage and Family Therapists and is offered through the Integral Counseling Center at Church Street. Connor Benefield (they/them) is a white, trans, queer, abled, triple Libra from Michigan with a deep personal interest in racial justice and dismantling white supremacy. They are a MA graduate in Integral Counseling Psychology at CIIS, an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist Registration Applicant at the Church St clinic, and are supervised by Debbie Stone. Jennie Beuhler (she/her) graduated with a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from CIIS and is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy Center. She is supervised by Anna Benassi. She identifies as a cisgender, heterosexual, white woman who is dedicated to supporting the movement towards an anti-racist society.
We will be taking several steps to ensure accountability of both the white-identified therapists and the white-identified group members in their goal of supporting racial justice. First, the therapists are seeking the support of a therapist of color to support in the role of consultant, offering feedback and guidance. Throughout the course of the group, clients will be invited to reflect and build on their own personal and active practice as anti-racist allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators in their lives outside of the group. Lastly, while keeping the confidentiality of individual members of the group, the facilitators will present their experience to fellow colleagues at Church Street Integral Counseling Center as a way to continue the dialogue on how white therapists can support racial justice work.