Guilt prevents action, Womens Resource Director says
Guilt is a common emotion that surfaces during conversations of racism and white privilege, but this emotion was not the goal of the workshop called “White on White: Acting to Dismantle Racism,” said Barbara Kulton, the director of the Women’s Resource Center.
“Guilt stops us from moving into action,” she said.
The goal of the conversation was to dismantle racism through a workshop environment that encourages members to not only increase their awareness, but to actively work to stop racism and acknowledge white privilege on campus.
“This work is hard, and often uncomfortable,” Kulton said. “Emotional response is often healthy.”
The workshop is put on by a collaboration of different groups on campus, including the Women’s Resource Center, the Student Academic Services Center, the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center and COURAGE.
It is designed to “create a space to talk about and move into action the dismantling of racism on campus,” said Anna Koclanes, a co-program coordinator for the Women’s Resource Center. “It is a place to examine white privilege, how as a white person you benefit from it and how it affects all of us negatively.”
The definition of racism used by the workshop is “a system of advantage/oppression based on race.”
By this definition, “there cannot be racist acts against white people because white people hold the power” and racism is prejudice and power combined, Koclanes said. Prejudice still occurs against whites, but it is not called racism.
The workshop hopes to encourage more people to become allies against racism for the CU campus.
“We need more active white allies on campus,” Kulton said.
Eventually, the group hopes to expand into other “ism” territories, like sexism, and hold workshops on them also, but for now, the group focuses on racism.
“This is a lifelong process,” Kulton said. “We are continuously learning.”
The workshop usually meets once a month, though none are scheduled in November. The workshops are open to the public. More information can be found at www.colorado.edu/womensresourcecenter.