Before We Were White – participant page

This page is for registered participants in the Oct-Dec, 2018 series “Before We Were White” – ancestral recovery for anti-racist action. Registration for this series has now closed, but if you would like to be notified of future offerings, please join our mailing list.

Live sessions are: Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 18, Dec 2, and Dec 16

On this page you will find:

  • Homework assignments
    • you will be notified when new assignments are posted
    • jump straight to the first week of homework for Session Five here
    • jump straight to the second week of homework for Session Five here
  • Login information
    • If you have not already done so, please register for your own personal login with Zoom for attending live sessions
    • You only need to do this one time; you will use the same link for each of the three upcoming live sessions.
    • If you are interacting with the session only via recordings, you do not need to take any action at this time.
    • We will resend your confirmation emails (from Zoom) shortly before the next session, so that it is easier for you to find them. Your login comes from Zoom (not from us).
  • Recordings
    • posted 2-3 days after each live session
    • recordings are linked below the corresponding session’s homework assignment
    • jump straight to Session Four recording here
    • please do not share recording links outside of the course

Updates on processing conflict within the course

  • A second processing call will be held for workshop participants this coming Monday, Dec 10. Details below.

Connecting with one another:

  • Participant directory can be found here. If you have not opted in to the directory, you can do so by filling out this form.
  • FB group for the course – request to join here.

Working with TA’s

  • To read about what TA’s are offering, sign up for their offerings, and/or be directly in touch with them please click here.
  • Our course TA’s have offered three session calls on particular areas of identity experience. If you would like to follow up with them about these, please be in touch with them directly. 🙂
  • If you were on the Jewish call, but didn’t sign up on the TA sheet (above), Nina would love to have your contact information! You can share it with her here: nina.l.smolyar@gmail.com

Addressing conflict within the course

Tracking and staying involved with the conflict that arose within the first two sessions of the course is optional. We offer these updates, and are holding a second process call for workshop participants, so that there can be transparency between participants and course leadership, and so that we can work together to create a forum for discussion outside of the live sessions.

Announcement:

Second Optional Process Call
Monday, Dec 10 / 7-9pm ET (4-7pm PT)

Open to active workshop participants in the current series
Focused on the conflicts and issues that arose during this course

This call will be facilitated by Betty Burkes, an educator and activist with five decades of experience. You can read Betty’s full bio here. In addition to workshop participants, Darcy, Eleanor, and members of the White Awake board will be present.

This call will be recorded and shared with workshop participants.

It is the hope of White Awake leadership that workshop participants who are engaged in the work of the course, and who have followed and/or been involved with the discussions we have had surrounding the conflict that arose in the course, would have the opportunity to further reflect upon these issues with us and one another. We recognize that there are many different points of view (which may very well come from different underlying value systems) held by various ones of us. We do not expect resolution, or even a common understanding, to arise from this call. Our hope is that we can learn and grow together.

Our goals for this call:

  • support further transparency regarding decisions made by the facilitators and/or White Awake leadership
  • hear and hold different viewpoints from a place of openness and curiosity
  • gain insight or understanding by listening to one another
  • learn and grow together in a way that enhances each of our work in anti-racism and/or movement spaces

We recognize that there is a lot of complexity in what has occurred. This complexity has been further complicated by the degree to which different people have access to varying degrees of “behind the scenes” information. To help bring further transparency to the various layers of communication that have occurred, Darcy and Eleanor have put together the following document:

Timeline & Collection of Key Communications – Regarding Issues that Emerged in Oct-Dec, 2018 ”Before We Were White” Series  (this document includes a link to the first optional process call)

If you plan on attending the second process call, we ask that you please take some time to look over this document. Of particular significance, this document includes the email that Eleanor wrote to Saskia (and asked Saskia to share with David), around which so much of the conflict has hinged.

LOGIN FOR THIS CALL: Please use the same, individual login links you are using to join the live sessions of the course. If you have not registered with Zoom, and do not have an individual login, you can do so here. We will resend each of your confirmation emails during the day on Monday, to make this login information easier to find.

If you have not registered for your own personal login information with Zoom,  see instructions for doing so below:


Login for Live Sessions

When you register to attend a live session, you are agreeing to abide by the ground rules for live session participation. If you have not reviewed these ground rules, please do so before registering with Zoom.

1) In order to attend any of the remaining three live sessions of this course, please click this link and follow the instructions.

2) Your registration with Zoom will be approved by a member of our team manually; once you are approved, you will receive an email with a link to join the live sessions.

3) The new login information you receive is distinct – it is just for you. Please do not share it with others. (We recognize that groups attending live sessions together will interface via one person’s login; this is fine.)

4) You only need to register one time. You will use this same login for every remaining session in this course.

5) Please do your best to register for Zoom with the same email account you used to register with us for the course. This will ease our administration process greatly!

*If you are interacting with the class entirely through recordings, you do not need to take any action at this time. You will still receive all course mailings, and you will continue to use the participant page in our site to access recordings and homework.

We apologize for the change in video conference process mid-stream. Byron, Jo, and Eleanor will be working hard to help ease this transition, and you can always reach out to Zoom for support (via articles/videos online, or directly with their support staff).


Homework Assignments

*Recordings are listed under the homework for the corresponding session


Homework for Session One

*Recording of Session One here
Graphic shared during class: Systems of Oppression and Liberatory Practices, by Monica Dennis

Guiding Questions in Preparation for Session One

As you go through these assignments, please reflect on your intentions for this course.

What parts of your ancestral lineage are you wishing to explore? What resources are there to support you, and what feels like it’s standing in your way? What needs to be “cleared out” in order to make space for the work you will do over the coming weeks?

**

#1 – PARTICIPANT DIRECTORY

We are building a participant directory, to help folks connect with others in the course with similar experiences, backgrounds, and interests. To be included in the directory, please fill out this survey. Participation in the directory is not required, just encouraged! 🙂

**

#2 – STUDY (readings/video)

Setting a foundation for understanding of the importance of ancestral identity and recovering connection in the work to end white supremacy:

Introducing core concepts around indigenous sovereignty, colonial nation states, and Original Instructions:

Core concepts and best practices to be considered when entering into ceremonial work:

Optional / Going Deeper: Each week we will include optional study for going deeper during or after the course series. This week, you might want to purchase a copy of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. In future weeks, we will note chapters in this book that correspond with material we are covering in the course.

**

#3 – ACTIVITIES

Clearing a space for an ancestral altar

This course is a journey. Part of this journey will be spending time deepening our relationships with our ancestors. As you clear out your schedule to make time for our work together, we ask you to also clear a physical space to be with your ancestors. This might be a small table or shelf, indoors or outdoors, ideally out of the way but in a place easy to visit each day. Before we gather, you may place a few objects there as an initial invitation to your ancestors that are ready to be part of the healing: perhaps some fresh flowers and/or food as an offering, photos or symbols of significant Beloved Dead. You will be working with this altar over the course of our time. If you already have such a space as part of your practice, please take this as an opportunity to freshen up the space. 

Choose a natural place and/or non-human being to visit between each session

Additionally, as you prepare for session one, we ask that you spend some time in nature. This may mean going for a walk (by wheelchair or walking, etc), or having a caretaker simply take you outside, if you have such limitations on your health. Your time may be short or long, and “in nature” can mean whatever it means for you. Likely, being “in nature” would involve going outside of your home. 🙂 If this is not possible, it might mean reflecting at a window, or with a house plant. If you are able to ramble through wilderness land, or visit a local park, these are also a lovely ways to engage in this assignment!

During your time “with nature”, focus on clearing out space in your interior/emotional/mental world for this journey, and inviting in support and guidance. This could be a wonderful time to reflect on the guiding questions at the beginning of this section. However, be sure that you allow space for awareness of the beings you encounter in your time outside. Does a tree call to you? Or a rock, squirrel, local bird? Do you feel called to a particular gully, hill, or corner of your local park?

We hope that in this first “time in nature” assignment, you can establish a being or place that you visit between each session in the course. Open yourself for whatever relationship wants to form between you and this place or non-human being. Find an outdoor spot where you can return (at least once between each session), and spend a little time listening there.


Homework for Session Two

*Recording of Session Two available here (chat is linked in description below video)

Guiding Questions in Preparation for Session Two

What is white supremacy, and what is its function in society? How did we, and our ancestors, come to be classified as “white”, and what purpose did/does this serve? Whose interests were/are being served by this classification? Who were our ancestors before they were white, and what forces caused them to assimilate into whiteness?

**

#1 – STUDY

These materials are given to help us understand the function of white supremacy in society. David’s article “Roots Deeper Than Whiteness” also outlines much of the history of how various European people’s were assimilated into “whiteness”, and lays a strong baseline for the work of our class.

This essay by Myke Johnson lays a foundational understanding of cultural appropriation (vs appropriate, cross-cultural sharing) in a way that also touches on the trauma and loss within our settler culture/s at the root of cultural theft.

Optional / Going Deeper*if you are new to the subject of white supremacy, we especially recommend the first two pieces in this list

*What is White Supremacy – Elizabeth Martinez (7 min read)

*Birth of a White Nation – Jacqueline Battalora (36 min watch)

Why I Quit the Klan? – C.P. Ellis narrative collected by Studs Terkel (20 min read)

**

#2 – ACTIVITIES


Samhain

The time between our first and second sessions falls, quite magically, during Halloween, All Hallows Eve, the Day of the Dead (for our Latinx neighbors), and the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain.

If you are unfamiliar with Samhain, it is the pagan origin of today’s Halloween. As the older, ancestral culture of the original British settlers, Celtic traditions hold a unique place in the cultural ancestors of those of us now classified as white and assimilated into the dominant, Anglo culture of the US. Regardless of the People’s from whom you descend, given the mainstream society’s celebration of Halloween, Darcy and I thought you might be interested in learning more about Samhain, and even engaging in some activities outlined by Reclaiming leader and witch, Starhawk. [*Note that we are not promoting paganism or Reclaiming, though value can be found in these traditions for many people. We acknowledge that pagan practice has its own complicated relationship to white supremacy, just like all other cultural forms emerging from settlers and/or dominant members of colonizing, European nations.]

Samhain is an ancient time designated for ancestral connection by the Celtic people’s of the British Isles. Many cultures hold this same belief that during the fall season (for those who live in four season climates), the veil between the living and the dead is thin. For this reason, Darcy and I feel that this season lends particular potency to the work of ancestral recovery we are initiating with you at this time.


Reflection for the course; How did your ancestors become “white”?

Please take some time to reflect on what you know about your family history, and put it in context with the historical outline David provides in his Roots Deeper article. When did your ancestors come to this continent? How did they become “white”? (those who were classified as white). What general, historical wave of colonization and/or assimilation did they participate in?

If you have time, you might also reflect specifically on Myke Johnson’s essay, “Wanting to Be Indian”. What stands out to you when you read it? Do you have any ah-ha moments, or any emotional connection to her words?


Altar Practice

In Session One’s homework assignment, we asked you to clear a physical space in your home to be with your ancestors. If you have not yet completed the first homework assignment, please review the altar section there.

As we prepare for the second session of the class, please add some items to your altar that represent your ancestors and/or beloved dead. These can be photographs, but can also be any object that holds a representation for you, especially (for beloved dead who you knew) items that they personally enjoyed in life.

As you do this, consider: Are there particular parts of your lineage (biological, cultural, or via an identity marker such as gender) that you really want to focus on for the purposes of this course? You can call upon these ancestors now, while keeping in mind the focus of this course is on European lineage (and/or whichever lineages in your ties, or blood or kindship, result in this time in a classification of white, when unmixed with lineages that are at this time not classified as white).


Outdoor Communion

In the first session’s homework assignment, we asked you to spend some time outside and/or in communion with a non-human being. If you have not had time to review the first homework assignment, please review the activity “Choose a natural place and/or non-human being to visit between each session” before beginning the activity assigned for Session Two.

One significant way to establish a relationship with the land and networks of life where you live is by bringing offerings to your non-human neighbors, and/or (with adequate appreciation) bringing tokens of these more-than-human neighbors into your home. For this week’s assignment, we recommend that you bring a gift to the non-human being or outdoor place that you are committed to visiting with between each session. As you offer this gift, spend a little time listening feeling how the offering is received. Allowing spaciousness for this, you might also look around and see if something in this environment speaks to you, and invites you to bring an element of this place or being into your home, onto your altar. If you pick up and bring an item with you, after your outdoor communion, do so with gratitude and respect.

Notice what this practice feels like while you do it, and afterwards, when you see what has been gifted to you upon your altar.


Homework for Session Three

**Recording of Session Three here**

You can read Nina Smolyar’s notes from her talk on anti-semitism here.

Homework for Session Three is divided up into two parts. We encourage you to complete the homework for the first part this week, and for the second part the following week, such that you divide up the work between now and Session Two with a clear focus on the different themes of the two sections.

Glossary of Frequently Used Terms can be found here. Please review as you complete your homework for Session Three, and note that these are working definitions about which we are open to feedback.

WEEK ONE  (Nov, 6-11)

This week’s guiding question: What were the earth-based traditions of your ancestors? What hints can you find about the earth-based traditions of your ancestors, the ways they lived in tune with the seasons and cycles of the land? How do these practices relate (and how don’t they relate) to your life today?

Please review the Glossary of frequently used terms for a definition of “earth based traditions”, Turtle Island, and other terms used in your homework assignments.

**

#1 – STUDY

These materials set a context for investigating the earth-based traditions of our ancestors:

    • The Magical World of Aradia, Mario Pazzaglini (15 min read)
      • The Magical World of Aradia is an example of a specific European cultural tradition or type of information you might find when you look for earth based practices of your European / “white” ancestors
    • Learning the Grammar of Animacy, Robin Wall Kimmerer (15 min read)
      • While Kimmerer shares from an Indigenous tradition of Turtle Island, we can see in her work a worldview that may help us understand some of the aspects of an earth-based world view that our ancestors lost during their experience of colonization and assimilation.

Optional / Going Deeper

If you purchased (or borrowed!) a copy of  An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, you can read Chapter One, Follow the Corn, for important context regarding First Nations history on Turtle Island pre-contact. We are recommending this book as a companion for this course because of the way it helps keep our work regarding white ancestry deeply grounded in the context of historical and continued efforts of cultural genocide on Turtle Island.

**

#2 – ACTIVITIES

Research

This week, please spend some time exploring the “earth-based traditions of your ancestors.”

This phrase is intentionally vague to give you space to feel into it, and live into/experiment with what has resonance for you.

    • At this point, you may feel unsure where to begin. If so, you might begin with traditions from broad geographic regions you understand your people came from. Songs, stories, dances, language, ceremonies, ways of relating to the natural cycles, cultural practices around the body, elements of material culture, arts & crafts–any of these are a great place to start!
    • Many relevant resources are compiled here (along with resources for other aspects of the course.
    • Ancient Spirit Rising-Practices from Ancient Spirit Rising by Pegi Eyers (significantly detailed resource naming and describing what practices from specific places have persisted/been recovered, so you don’t have to start from scratch!)
    • If you have a solid foundation in ancestral research, you may choose to use this time to go deeper into an area of interest to you, whether that be focusing down on a particular village that your people are from,  or a particular element of culture like expressions of gender, sacred plants, etc.
    • If you are bi- or multi-racial, the invitation here is to focus on the lineages that eventually became socially classified as “white”, as this is the thread we will be following over the length of this course.

Altar Practice

In addition to research you may do through reading and exploring media resources, spend some intentional time “just being” with your ancestors who want to teach you about their earth-based traditions. This is the purpose of a dedicated a space in your home for them, the altar space you cleared and prepared last week. Please spend a few minutes a day at your ancestral altar, offering words of blessing, gratitude, and invitation for them to share with you. I think of this as courting my ancestors, as opposed to interrogating them!

    • You might add to your altar pictures (your own, from the internet, or from magazines), objects that are already in your home, or include objects gathered (respectfully) from the natural world, that somehow connect you with the earth-based traditions of your ancestors.
    • Focus on what draws you in and what speaks to you, while also noticing the questions that emerge for you.
    • Remember that many of our ancestors learned to hide their traditional practices in the trappings of the dominant culture, so get creative and look for the hidden ways of honoring the earth and her cycles where we might least expect them!  

Please: remember the goal is not amassing information, it’s about building relationships. How we learn these histories is as important as what we learn. Trust your ancestors to bring you the information that they want you to have at this time. It’s okay if this all feels difficult, awkward, or uncomfortable. For many of us, this is a very new way of relating. Simply by being open to relationship, we are already stepping into the ancient practices of our ancestors. Please notice without judgement sensations, feelings, thought that arise during this practice.

Nature Communion

For week one, go to the place / visit the non-human being you have been called to visit with during this course. Spend time considering: what would it mean to live an “earth-based” life? what wisdom does this place or being have to share with you about this? Before you leave, take time to offer your gratitude, and perhaps a simple offering of some sort.


WEEK TWO  (Nov, 12-17)

During this second week of preparation for Session Three (Nov 18), we ask that the group begin to take first steps towards considering trauma our ancestors endured.

In this context, we will take time to look more closely at antisemitism, and lay some common understanding for how to interpret antisemitism in relation to white supremacy, with an eye on both history and how these dynamics are manifesting today.

**

#1 – STUDY

Now that you have spent some time considering when and where your ancestors retained strong earth based practices of living, we invite you to begin to reflect on how these older earth-based, place-based ways were disrupted. David Dean’s Roots Deeper Than Whiteness article may be a helpful historical outline for you to consider where the disruptions began, or where major disruptions took place, in your ancestral line.

To support this initial inquiry, we suggest you spend some time with the following resources:

  • Boudicca” (5 min read) / Boudicca’s story helps illuminate some of the earliest forms of colonization in the British Isles, which would later become the colonizing force that gave birth to “whiteness” and white supremacy
  • Unpublished Excerpts “from Rites to White” by Darcy Ottey (approx 20 min read) / Tracing ancestral story from Indo-European roots of Empire through 1492. *Please do not share unpublished draft material outside of this course

To support our entire class engagement with antisemitism, please read:

For our Jewish participants:

We are grateful to Jen Kiok (Executive Director of Boston Workmen’s Circle, Center for Jewish Culture & Social Justice), who – in the first iteration of this class- shared resources specifically tailored to the needs of Jews. We welcome all participants who want a deeper understanding of Jewish experience and identity to review the following resources, and specifically encourage our Jewish participants to look over:

**

#2 – ACTIVITIES

We hope that you will prioritize the activities given in the first section of homework for Session Three (“week one”). If you have time, you can spend another piece of time with your ancestral altar, asking for protection and guidance as you look into some of the harms that eventually led these ancestors into process of colonization as “white” people.

  • What violence occurred to separate my ancestors from their earth based traditions, and what violence continued along the way from where they were to where I am today?
  • What can I do now, such that in turning my attention to irreparable harm, I am at the same time bringing some healing to this harm?

We encourage you to also bring these questions out into your nature based communion place / relationship you are working with in this series.

  • How can the more-than-human world resource you as you look at such deep roots of trauma and harm?
  • Can we experience ourselves as supported, not alone as an individual or even a species, but supported in a larger web of life in bringing loving attention and grief to the harm that our ancestors endured and participated in?

Homework for Session Four

*Recording of Session Four here

During these two weeks between sessions, we will walk together with the trauma that our ancestors endured, as well as the trauma our ancestors caused. Our experiences of these stories will be different depending on our particular lineages. Indeed, for some of us, our lineages include ancestors on different sides of the same atrocities.

Our invitation to you to spend time with the historical trauma carried in your lineage is deep work, and requires that you pay close attention, carefully attending to what can be metabolized at what rate. We trust you to utilize your best practices of spiritual protection and self-care!

*Unlike the way we divided up weekly homework for Session Three, for Session Four we have given you all of your homework at once.

The idea is that this set of study resources would be read and/or watched before our next live session, however if this is too much at once please practice self care. You can always come back to these resources after the course is over, and work with them at a slower pace.

Guiding questions:

  • What were the traumas your ancestors endured? How does this impact you now? What does this teach us about what it means to be white?
  • What were the traumas your ancestors caused? How does this impact you now? What does this teach us about what it means to be white? How do these stories relate to what was endured by your ancestors?

#1 – STUDY

These materials set a context for exploring the trauma that our ancestors have endured, as well as the trauma that our ancestors inflicted. Please take your time moving through them, and allow yourself to “be” with each one before quickly moving on to another.

Consider with each resource where your particular ancestry may (or may not) have been directly involved. Also consider what trauma’s you may have inherited (particular the trauma’s of enslavement and genocide) simply by virtue of your relationship whiteness, even if your family assimilated after these atrocities occurred.

  • Healing Your Thousand-Year-Old Trauma by Remaa Menakem (5 min read) 
    • Author of My Grandmother’s Hands, Menakem outlines the interwoven nature of intergenerational trauma in the U.S. today (relevant to other nation states).
    • While short, this piece offers a strong framing for all of your study in for session four.
  • Mamwlad (by Lyla June (5 min watch) / A music video, filmed on location in Wales, in dedication to the witches persecuted throughout Europe.
  • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on the Ulster-Scots (7 min read; selection from the book) / Shows the relationship between enduring conquest and colonization, and the brutalization of foot soldiers for that effort
  • Slate graphic of transatlantic slave trade (2 min interactive graphic)
    • The horror of the human trafficking and enslavement of Africans is vast. As you watch this interactive graphic, take time to reflect on what you know about this trauma inflicted upon indigenous African people and their descendants.
  • “The Wellbriety Journey to Forgiveness”  (30 min watch)
    • This is a grassroots documentary that illuminates the Indian Boarding Schools in relation to genocide of Native people’s of Turtle Island, broadly, as well as inter-generational trauma and what it takes to heal a damaged culture.
    • The material can be very triggering. Please allow time and space for your viewing, and post-viewing, experience.
    • The video title is linked to an edited version for White Awake workshops; the full documentary can be found on Youtube here.)

Optional / Going Deeper

If you bought An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, reading Chapters Two and Three will give you additional context around the “Culture of Conquest” that was developing in Europe immediately prior to invasion of Turtle Island, including the way in which subjugation of Europeans (particularly the Ulster-Scots or “Scotch-Irish”) created a front line of shock troops for colonization abroad. Ohe rest of the book outlines the destruction that was wrought by European invasion upon the indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

Also optional:

I am my white ancestors (photos and audio from original art installation; interview with artist Anne Mavor)

The Case for Reparations (article by Ta-Nahisi Coates)

**

#2 – ACTIVITIES

Research

Over the course of this two weeks, we ask folks to spend some time investigating the pain that your ancestors endured, and the pain your ancestors caused or inherited through assimilation. If you are new to ancestral research, there may not be stories specific for your family that you are able to track down during these weeks. If this is the case, you might look instead at broad historical disruptions. For example, the original disruptions of the earth ways, the Roman invasion of Britain, the pogroms towards Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, the European Witch Trials, Americanization programs for European immigrants in US, the violent invasion and westward migration of settlers across the North American continent, just to name a few. Looking back to David Dean’s essay, Roots Deeper Than Whiteness (that you read for Session One), could be a helpful reminder of some of these larger historical disruptions.

Given that this first week is the holiday known in the United States as Thanksgiving, if you live in the US you may consider looking into the history of this holiday.  Here are two useful articles: The Wamponoag Side of the First Thanksgiving and Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving is Wrong

Altar practice

In addition to research you may do through reading and exploring media resources, spend some intentional time “just being” with your ancestors who want to teach you about the trauma they endured, and the trauma they have caused. Please be very specific in your invitation, that you are welcoming the ancestors that are whole and well, and are ready to partner with you toward healing.

Please turn your altar toward this theme, and spend a few minutes each day here, being with the stories of suffering.

  • Please consider this theme in light of your blood/adopted lineage(s), and the broader notion of “collective ancestors” particular to your social/cultural locations.
  • Are there any objects or photos that want to be on your altar, to help you remember and be present with this history?
  • What practices naturally want to come forth, as you spend time with this suffering?
  • How does it want to move you, or be moved by you?
  • Consider drawing on the power of the elements to release whatever is coming up for you: burying in the earth, burning with fire, washing away with water, or allowing to be blown away by wind.
  • Here is a simple grief activity you can do at your altar if you choose, using salt and a bowl of water. If tears come, allow yourself to cry. If you feel nothing, accept the numbness with compassion.
  • Over the course of the week, take a moment to become present with our broader circle of this course, all bearing witness to these wounds together, each in our own way and from our own relationship to them. What is possible when we turn our collective attention towards the wounds in this way?

Please notice without judgement body sensations, emotions, and/or thoughts that arise during your ceremonial practice, and in your daily life:

  • What is happening for you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually?
  • What is happening for you in your relationships with other humans and the broader world around you? (in general / all the time / in your daily life)
  • Where do you feel connected, and where is connection more difficult?

If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, disengaging, or feeling not quite right:

  • Take some time to come back into your physical body through engaging your senses. Do some sort of grounding practice, feeling your body on the earth, rooted and connected (preferably outside if you’re in a place where it’s not too cold). Find your physical center, and breathe deeply into this place, until you feel yourself as strong and solid in your body.
  • Spend time in nature, scientifically proven to regulate our nervous systems!
  • Move your body, through dance, self-massage, stretching, etc.
  • Part of this journey is learning our limitations, while also stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zones. If you find yourself wanting to take on more than you are able to metabolize and release, please take the opportunity to practice strong self-care and boundaries.

Nature Communion

Over the course of these two weeks, visit your spot in nature. Hold the intention of bearing witness to the suffering in the world: not healing it, fixing it, changing it, or absorbing it, but simply bearing witness to the suffering. Before you leave, take time to offer your gratitude, and perhaps a simple offering of some sort.

Some of the work listed above, as an altar practice, can also be done here in your nature communion place.


Homework for Session Five

Homework for Session Five is divided up into two parts. See “WEEK ONE” and “WEEK TWO” below, as you prepare for our last session – Sunday, Dec 16.

Session Five Special Guest: Lyla June will be joining us! To read more, to WEEK TWO of your homework.

WEEK ONE  (Dec, 4-9)

During this week, we will walk together with the ways our ancestors resisted harm and oppression, and persisted in life affirming patterns in the face of difficulty. Please consider this from both the lens of your ancestors that resisted oppression to preserve their culture and traditions, and the ancestors that resisted the oppression of others. These forms of resistance may be daring and bold acts, or they may be more subtle forms of daily resistance. Make note of the complexities–the places where folks resisted one form of oppression while sometimes upholding another. How do we hold these complexities?

Guiding questions:

  • What were the ways your ancestors resisted and persisted? How does this impact you now? What does this teach us about what it means to be white?
  • Why is this history not commonly taught in our history classes and in dominant culture?

**

#1 – STUDY

The idea is that this set of study resources would be read and/or watched this week, however if this is too much at once please practice self care. You can always come back to these resources after the course is over, and work with them at a slower pace.

These materials set a context for exploring the ways our ancestors resisted and persisted along the way, whether defending their own communities, or fighting the exploitation of others:

**

#2 – ACTIVITIES

Research

Over the course of this week, we ask folks to spend some time investigating the ways your ancestors resisted/survived injustice toward themselves or others. You may be able to find hints or whole stories in your specific family stories. You may also choose to look at broader cultural narratives and key historical figures. Here is a document we started with resources and stories on various resistance movements and leaders throughout time–please add to it! Resistance Resource Document

Altar practice

In addition to research you may do through reading and exploring media resources, spend some intentional time “just being” with your ancestors who want to teach you ways that they have resisted and persisted. Please be very specific in your invitation, that you are welcoming the ancestors that are whole and well, and are ready to partner with you toward healing.

  • Please turn your altar toward this theme, and spend a few minutes a day here, being with the stories of resistance.
  • Are there any objects or photos that want to be on your altar, to help you explore/remember these stories?
  • What practices naturally want to come forth, as you spend time with this history? How might you want to honor, or ask for assistance, from those who resisted their own oppression, or the oppression of others?
  • Over the course of the week, perhaps take a moment to become present with our broader circle of almost 400 people, all bearing witness to the collective story of resistance together, each in our own way and from our own relationship.  What is possible when we turn our collective attention towards the collective liberation in this way?

Please notice without judgement body sensations, emotions, and/or thoughts that arise during your ceremonial practice, and in your daily life:

  • What is happening for you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually?
  • What is happening for you in your relationships with other humans and the broader world around you? (in general / all the time / in your daily life)
  • Where do you feel connected, and where is connection more difficult?

Nature Communion

Over the course of this week, visit your spot in nature. Invite whatever guidance or lessons want to come forward about the legacy of resistance and persistence that you’ve inherited. Before you leave, take time to offer your gratitude, and perhaps a simple offering of some sort.


WEEK TWO  (Dec, 10-15) – preparing for our last class on Sunday, Dec 16

*Special Guest – Lyla June*

In our last session of the class, musician, public speaker and spoken word artist Lyla June  –of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages – will be joining us to share about her work and the PhD program she has just begun, which centers on the revitalization of Indigenous Foodways. You will all be invited to contribute directly towards her academic work, via a collection taken up from our class.

We have shared several pieces by Lyla June over the course of the class (including The Vast and Beautiful World of Indigenous Europe, and three music videos). In preparation for Lyla’s joining us, we ask that you take another look at one these musical videos, which we shared in the first session’s homework:

  • Time Traveler – In this video, Lyla June (with Desirae Harp) speaks to the universal truth that we are all here to be a good ancestor. How we can be a good ancestor is exactly the theme of our last class. It is fitting to bear witness to Time Traveler once again as we move into this theme.

If want to join live, and have not yet registered with Zoom, you can do so here.

**

During this last week between sessions, we invite you to reflect on how you want to move forward, individually and collectively.

Guiding questions:

  • What what is the legacy you want to leave for your descendants?
  • What are the next steps for you in your journey toward leaving this legacy for our future?

**

#1 – STUDY

These materials provide context and practical examples for considering how to move forward into our collective future:

  • Shared Foundations – “A new education project for union members tackles racism using labor’s strongest weapon: solidarity.” (x min read)

Optional / Going Deeper:

**

#2 – ACTIVITIES

Research

Over the course of this week, we invite folks to research forms of action for justice that you have been thinking about supporting, whether by contributing time, money, or other resources.

Altar practice

In addition to research you may do through reading and exploring media resources, spend some intentional time at your altar considering the ways that you wish to move forward as we come to the end of this course. If there are particular objects that wish to be part of your altar, of what you are calling in or committing to, please bring them into this physical space and see what they have to share with you.

Nature Communion

Over the course of this week, visit your spot in nature. Give gratitude for what you’ve received, and invite anything else that wishes to come as you move forward into the future.