Posted on September 21, 2004

Untraining White Liberal Racism

Do you wonder how you, as a white person, contribute to maintaining a white-dominated world?

The mission of The UNtraining is to provide resources and tools for white people who are motivated to investigate their white cultural conditioning.

What is the UNtraining?

The UNtraining is a forum for exploring what it means to be white and how this affects ourselves and our relationships with people of color. By focusing on the training, we inherit from our white-dominated culture, we are able to better understand the world around us and we are empowered to create change in ourselves and our communities.

We do not come together to judge, instill guilt or exonerate ourselves for the effects of racism. We seek to understand ourselves and our world in order to be more effective and compassionate individuals. In doing so, we may become strong allies to everyone working to raise awareness about racism and create social change.

White Privilege and the Cost of Whiteness

The premise of the UNtraining is that we are all affected by racism. No matter how aware our parents may have been, how liberal, loving or spiritual we may be, as white people we have been trained to be “white” by media, educational systems and continual subtle feedback from those around us.

Although it may not be obvious at first, we benefit from racism in our daily lives through the privileges associated with light-colored skin. Even less apparent, however, is the cost to us as white people living within this hierarchical system. Many of us live with guilt, fear, and defensiveness. Our curiosity is stifled and our passions blunted. This keeps us from speaking out and taking action against racism. Or if we do, we may come across as righteous and judgmental, which is rarely helpful or effective.

How can white people reconcile heartfelt antiracist beliefs with the invisible power of this white training?

The UNtraining Program

As children, we did not choose to take on our white conditioning, but as adults we can choose to undo it. The UNtraining provides a challenging and compassionate environment for white people to look at personal and collective issues around race.

The UNtraining is held in small groups that meet once a month for six months in a workshop format that combines presentation of concepts and tools, experiential exercises, self-reflection and group process. Each group consists of a maximum of ten men and women who are “white identified.” The meetings are generally held on weekends.

There are three phases of the UNtraining. Each phase is complete in itself, although they build on each other. Phase One introduces the basic concepts and tools of the UNtraining. Phase Two deepens the experience of using the tools in the group process. Phase Three is tailored to the needs that arise in the particular group.

The cost is a sliding scale from $300 to $600 for a six month series.