Posted on June 22, 2021

Washington Post Urges White People to Feel ‘Shame,’ to Self-Segregate Into ‘White Accountability Groups’

Libby Emmons, The Post Millennial, June 21, 2021

The Washington Post began a series called “The New Normal” in 2020, and on the latest episode, pundits and commentators urged white people to feel the sins of their ancestors.

Nicole Ellis, host for “The New Normal,” introduced the episode by saying that it is about “white racial identity.” She said that George Floyd’s death marked the “first time that white people were becoming aware of their whiteness. And the systemic ways that white supremacy affects all of us.”

Resmaa Menakem, who offers courses in “somatic abolitionism,” starts off by saying that “Racism, racialism, white body supremacy is not episodic, it is structural. {snip}”

She turned to Rebecca Toporek, who is a professor in the Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University. Toporek said that “white people in particular get aroused, get upset, say ‘this is unjust, this isn’t right, this is shouldn’t happen.’ There’s like an awakening that happens. And so part of their racial identity development is seeing that awakening. What they do with it is really the next piece of it.”

Ellis explained that “understanding your whiteness is integral to becoming self-aware as a white person.” But this program of “understanding whiteness” is not about self-discovery, but about internalizing the ideas about whiteness that are being peddled by antiracist activists.


A suggestion for white people is to form groups only for white people, to self-segregate into “accountability groups.”

“An antiracist culture does not exist among white people,” Menakem says. “White people need to start getting together specifically around race.” He says that these whites-only accountability groups should be done for a period of “one, two, three, four, five years,” so that “you end up with a community that is aligned with each other.”


Ellis then speaks to a woman who appears to have entered one of these whites-only accountability groups, Ilyse Kennedy, who is identified as a trauma therapist. Kennedy says that in her segregated group, they’ve been “unpacking wrong things they’ve been taught in history class.” Personally, she “realized that [she] needed to go back and unpack and reorganize everything [she’d] learned because it was through a white lens.”

Kennedy talks about how “legitimate” it is that white people should have a “period of deep shame for being white and for acknowledging the harm that our ancestors have caused.” She said “we can’t ask people of color to hold our hands through the shame piece, that needs to happen with other white people.”

Ellis says that this sounds like a good idea, and Toporek says that segregating by race is only the “first step.” After spending time among whites-only, the next part of the process is to go have “sustained and meaningful relationships with people of color.”