WHY JOIN AN ACCOUNTABILITY GROUP
AS A WHITE PERSON?
White accountability groups are an important part of anti-racist work for a number of reasons:
Many white people are looking for ways to further their learning about how to be anti-racist and have heard that they should not burden Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Colour (BIPOC) with their learning. Yet, they often don’t have a network of people with whom they can have deeper and meaningful conversations about the intersections between whiteness and racism.
A white accountability group offers a forum for white people to ask hard questions of each other without being embarrassed that they are being racist. It also challenges white participants to take on the task of holding each other to account -- to do the work of anti-racism themselves. This work can be accomplished productively within a white accountability group without the risk of further burdening or traumatizing BIPOC people through the experience of having to educate or listen to white people learn about racism and come to a greater understanding of the ways in which white people have benefited from and/or perpetuated systemic racism.
Educational institutions and other work places often focus on supporting BIPOC people as they experience racism (albeit not always and not always effectively) but don't create spaces for others to process in an informed and intentional way what it means to live and work in a world impacted by racism and other forms of oppression. Not enough (extended) opportunities are provided for members of dominant groups to reflect upon and expand their learning about systemic racism and other forms of oppression and how it is perpetuated individually and institutionally. Providing these kinds of opportunities can help those in positions of power understand their unique capacity as a member of a dominant group to interrupt and dismantle oppression. Accountability group work allows for this type of in depth anti-oppression reflection.
Especially in education, in this time of social awakening about the role of individual and systemic racism in our lives, students have questions and want to talk to their teachers and peers about these issues. In order to navigate those conversations in a positive, non-injurious way, white educational professionals (including faculty, administrators, and other staff members) must gain comfort having those necessary discussions. Too often, BIPOC colleagues are tasked with this work when white educators and administrators are unwilling or unprepared to address questions of racial injustice and oppression with students. If you are white and work in education, participating in a white accountability group is one way to ensure that white employees in the education system can practice having these conversations so that they are prepared to do their part in ending systemic oppression.
“If we don’t fully understand our individual and collective roles in maintaining a system of white superiority, our relationship with people of color remains superficial, our ability to function in diverse workplaces is greatly diminished, and we fail to create a just world in which everyone has an equitable opportunity to
contribute and thrive.”