‘Whiteness, as a set of normative cultural practices, is visible most clearly to those it definitely excludes and those to whom it does violence. Those who are housed securely within its borders usually do not examine it.’ (Ruth Frankenberg,1993)
For too long Black, African and Asian therapists and trainees have been experiencing racism and exclusion within the therapy profession. Change in the culture of therapy and training is slow and there are still trainees who are discriminated against: unheard, invisible, hurt, excluded. There has recently been an issue of Therapy Today dedicated to Black Matters which is very welcome, and we feel a need to keep up the work to continue to confront racism in the profession and in the world.
As part of addressing this oppression within the therapy professions, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (www.pcsr.org.uk) have organised a series of meetings for therapists who identify as White to explore Whiteness and White aspects of themselves within the context of their own identity and skin. Being part of group conversations about racism, organised by BAATN (Black, African and Asian Therapists’ Network) we have seen how much work is being done by people of colour. The Examining Whiteness meetings were initially conceived by White therapists attempting to own responsibility, expand their awareness, and strengthen their potential to become allies.
The meetings are a space to explore and process what it means to be White, and working as a White therapist in a racist society, or to be read or misread as a person of mixed heritage and have identities ascribed. We invite you to come and share your experiences and deepen your understanding of the many complex aspects of White identity in a supportive environment.
These Whiteness meetings offer an opportunity to encourage and stimulate personal and collective work on White identity, power, privilege and entitlement and to address the injustices and inequalities of racism.
Useful resources to check out online:
‘Witnessing the wound’ (20 min video) https://vimeo.com/262194819
‘How I learned to stop worrying and love discussing Race’ (10 min TED talk) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdxeFcQtaU
Tim Wise, US anti-racism activist, Helm’s White racial identity development model and Peggy McIntosh on White privilege.
Recent relevant books:
Being White in the helping professions Judy Ryde 2009
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race Reni Eddo Lodge 2017
Natives: race and class in the ruins of empire Akala 2018
White Fragility: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism Robin DiAngelo 2018