What is the value of participating in a white accountability group?
We asked three white educators to share what they have learned from participating in white accountability spaces, and why they think these spaces are important for their journey towards anti-racism.
Thank you to Celeste Kirsh, Laura Sardone, and to Lincoln Smith for sharing your experiences.
Celeste Kirsh - Educator and Host of Teaching Tomorrow Podcast
I can say with great confidence that the experiences that I've had as a participant in white affinity and accountability groups has change me as a person. What I've gotten from these experiences has been the permission to be able to ask those awkward and cringey questions that I normally wouldn't feel like I had the permission to ask. They've also been able to show me how other people a little further ahead in this journey can do it. I've benefited from watching people have those difficult conversations about race in a productive and fruitful and compassionate way.
Laura Sardone - Educator and Instructional Coach
The thing that I value the most about participating in white accountability groups is not only being in a space where white educators can hold each other accountable, but also the frequent reminders to hold myself accountable. As a white educator I need to ensure that white accountability groups are one of several communities of conversation that I am engaging in.
Lincoln Smith - Educator and Researcher
As a white person who has participated in white accountability groups what do I value the most about them? Alright, I think mostly two things. One is practice identifying as white. This is something that has been really uncomfortable for me, it's been hard in many ways and messy, but it's been so valuable and so important. And you know it's one of the privileges of being white is that I haven't had to do that in the past. And so the chance to unpack to identify and understand my whiteness and how that has played into my identity with other people who identify as white is great. The second thing and most significant is just that this work is really hard and it's exhausting and I don't want to have to keep taxing the people who are [BIPOC]...you know it's really really important to listen to the voices of non-white people about their experiences about what's going on to understand what's going on. Absolutely. But it's also, you know, important for us who identify as white to also take on this emotional work and to take on the work of trying to understand what's going on. To take on the work to say how can we contribute to progress and how can we move forward? A white accountability group allows the space to work that out.