Challenging White Supremacy Workshops

Fridays here at the RR blog we’re highlighting different forms of resistance. Today, the spotlight is on the Challenging White Supremacy (CWS) workshops which began in 1993, working in the broad-based radical, multi-racial community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sharon Martinas and Mickey Ellinger co-founded the Challenging White Supremacy workshop in 1993, after participating in an Undoing Racism Workshop created by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a national anti-racist training organization.

Challenging White Supremacy (CWS) workshops organizers Martinas and Ellinger believe that the most effective way to create fundamental social change in the U.S. is by building mass-based, multi-racial grassroots movements led by radical activists of color. They also believe that the major barrier to creating these movements is racism or white supremacy.

CWS workshops were designed by a group of white anti-racist organizers and rooted in a commitment to help white social justice activists become principled and effective anti-racist organizers — both to challenge our white privilege and to work for racial justice in all our social justice work.

Martinas and Ellinger think that anti-racist training and organizing with white social justice activists complements and supports grassroots organizing and leadership development in communities of color, and that both kinds of work are necessary to help build mass-based, multi-racial social justice movements.

This booklet, “Passing It On” (pdf), explains the CWS workshops in more detail, and many more resources at their website.

Both Sharon and Mickey were deeply influenced by Third World national liberation movements, inside the U.S. and internationally, in the 1960’s and 1970’s and became committed to organizing white social justice activists in solidarity with these movements. While the CWS workshops ended in 2005, their commitment to anti-racist solidarity practice continues to this day through ongoing activism, particularly focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.