Beginning July 29 and Aug. 4, two anti-racist education groups will meet online for a reading group and an online study group with a bountiful collection of materials and content put together by Heather Mizeur, a Chestertown local and CEO + Founder of Soul Force Politics.
The reading group, The Great Radical Race Read (GR3), will begin on Wednesday, July 29, and meet every Wednesday for five weeks. Participants of the group will read the novel “My Grandmother’s Hands” by Resmaa Menakem, and recorded videos will be released each week for the group to watch. This will be a place where “READ-In” (Race Education Awareness & Disruption) conversation will take place.
For the 8-week online study course, Mizeur has collected pieces of journalism, academic articles, podcasts, and videos to begin the process of educating its audience on white supremacy, anti-racism, and racial justice. Participants should sign up for this course by August 1st by visiting the website and selecting a donation amount.
She emphasized that it is not the job or duty of people of color to educate or help white people understand racism — in society and within themselves.
“To learn about what whiteness is, and for white people to come together to do white people work,” Mizeur said. “It’s our job to go in and do a self-examination to understand our own journey with this.”
Soul Force Politics is offering the three-part series from this perspective.
The formation of these two groups is the Soul Force Politic’s 3-part “Convening Courageous Conversations” series. The series’ kickoff event stemmed from a reaction to a piece of Mizeur’s work published on May 30 called “Uncomfortable Truths of Whiteness.” A group of readers wanted to discuss the piece more, and the one-night discussion event had around 40 people in attendance on Zoom.
“It became clear in the response to The Uncomfortable Truths of Whiteness that there was a consciousness shift that was starting to occur on an interest in going deeper in understanding how to unlearn racism,” said Mizeur. “We’re calling you in, not calling you out.”
Another book club read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, a book that is now difficult to find on many virtual shelves. There were around 30 people in the book club, whose last meeting will be on Tuesday evening.
“This space is designed to be uncomfortable. That’s where we learn,” Mizeur said in an interview with the Kent Pilot. “Everyone wants to avoid being called [racist]. And that’s the false binary that, by design, encourages people to not see white privilege, not see white supremacy, because in our denial or lack of awareness about it is how we are complicit in sustaining it.”
There is a request for donations for each study group. Mizeur will give the donated funding to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) educators and leaders who have helped her learn and educate others, including author and radical thinker Rev. angel Kyodo williams, The Liberated Life Network, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle in Baltimore, as well as some Indigenous organizations.
“This is a little bit of reparations work too, and how important it is. One of the hallmarks of whiteness is stealing knowledge. It is incredibly important for us to recognize that we owe a shared benefit and profit-sharing, if you will, with those who have shared their knowledge and information, that we can’t just steal or appropriate things that we’ve received from other people,” said Mizeur. “This is an effort to put that value into action, and that is why there is a request for donations.”
Mizeur does not want there to be any financial barrier for people who want to do the work, but she also wants to put the “value into action” with this work by giving back to the people that taught her. The different donations amounts listed are in place for this reason —Mizeur asks participants to pay what they can.
Ultimately, the end goal is to have a mixed dialogue that includes both people of color and white people tackling these issues together.
“We thought it was important to have a place where white people can explore their whiteness first because until that’s done, there can be some unskillful dialogue that can be an additional burden on people of color,” said Mizeur. “We’ve just been in the busy phase of self-examination, learning, reading, inquiring. We’ve sort of been in our own circles, and then we’ll come back together as one big group soon.”
Sign up for Heather Mizeur’s 8-week study group at the Soul Force Politics website.
By Susie Fordi