Antiracist Organizations: Resources for Fighting White Racism

Though they get little attention, antiracist organizations are very important today in struggles against white-generated systemic racism. (Photo Source: National Resource Center for Healing of Racism)
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Typical of the range of current antiracist organizations are the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PI) and Antiracist Action (ARA). Located in New Orleans and created by African American activists, PI is a community-oriented group that sets up “Undoing Racism” workshops mostly to train people in community and nonprofit organizations. These multiracial workshops have now trained thousands of people, including many whites, since the 1980s. They are designed to help officials in various organizations and community activists to better understand white racism, to understand and value cultural diversity, and to show people how they can “undo racism” in their own lives and organizations.

Taking a somewhat different tack, the substantially white ARA groups, about 200 as of now, have worked aggressively against racism in numerous cities in the United States and Canada. Originally established to combat neo-Nazi and Klan-type organizations, ARA groups have developed other antiracist programs. For example, their Copwatch program has attempted to reduce police brutality by having members take video devices into the streets to record police actions in their dealings with citizens of color. Eileen O’Brien has a very useful book, Whites Confront Racism, in which she compares members of these two important antiracist groups, from field research interviews.

In addition, dozens of groups called the “Institutes for the Healing of Racism” regularly hold seminars and dialogues on issues of racism in numerous U.S. and some overseas cities. These multiracial groups work locally to heighten the awareness of racism, educate citizens about how to fight racial hostility and discrimination, and provide dialogue across racial group boundaries. These groups have dealt openly with racist framing and institutional racism in their own lives and areas. Check out the National Resource Center for the Healing of Racism.

While their objectives have varied, yet other antiracist organizations have also pressed for changes in systemic racism over the last few decades. A brief sampling includes the Dismantling Racism Program of the National Conference (St. Louis), the Anti-Racism Institute of Clergy and Laity Concerned (Chicago), the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, the Southern Empowerment Project, and the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence.

Note that a number of these antiracist organizations, as well as established civil rights groups like the NAACP and Urban League, have played important roles in openly countering the racist accusations and racist attacks that have been made against President Barack Obama and in helping to secure his election as president in 2008.

Comments

  1. Jessie

    Nice post, Joe. I think that the strategy one takes depends on the definition of the problem as well. Is this a mental illness? Is it a legal/discrimination issue? Is it less about individual bigotry and more about structural inequality? Or, is it a spiritual or religious issue? It seems to me that we need a multi-pronged approach and an energized antiracist movement.

  2. Kristen

    I’m currently a member of a white antiracist group that grew out of one of the PI’s Undoing Racism workshops several years ago (before I moved here). We caucus and meet both alone (once or twice a month) and jointly with the affiliated people of color group (about once a month). While we are all involved with various actions that support antiracism, from teaching to writing op-eds to speaking at school board meetings to attending rallies, when we white folks come together we mainly operate as a very personal support group. It has been truly invaluable to me to be able to be around other white people who have a shared understanding of racism and to know I can bring my worries, share my recent experiences, and get advice and encouragement. It is also worth noting that the core of our group is white folks over 50 from all walks of life, and we span the ages of 20s-70ish – a wonderfully eclectic bunch.
    ~
    When I moved to this city, I immediately found a home in this group. I’ve actually never attended an antiracism workshop and have gained my knowledge from graduate school instead. But one issue that our group has been discussing the past few months is how we can offer a hand to other white people who may want to take the next step beyond the weekend antiracism workshop they had to go to for their work or something but wound up experiencing some bit of intrigue or enlightenment. Unfortunately, there are few in-betweens from first exposure to “getting it,” as they say. I find that having a class for a whole semester is enough time for students to develop a good base of knowledge, but I have little assurance that they are well-equipped to pack their bags and hop the antiracism train. It requires so much learning AND unlearning, and without known resources, I think a lot of people fail to move very far, even against their own inclinations.
    ~Just a bunch of thoughts. Many thanks for this post!

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