Pre-Conference Institute: The Body Already Knows: A Framework for Dismantling Race, Racism and Whiteness and Achieving Racial Justice

Dr. Hackman will be facilitating a pre-conference institute at NCORE this May. This workshop is based on two key ideas: The first is that Race, Racism and Whiteness (RRW) serve to unnaturally divide us and violently disrupt our inherent human connection. The second is that our bodies already know how to live in just and supportive community and this knowledge can serve as a powerful framework for uprooting racial oppression and achieving racial justice. Thus, the dismantling of RRW is not actually something we have to “work toward”, but rather a “coming home” to our rightful human interdependence. And, it is in the space of this interconnectivity, rooted in our bodies’ own knowledge, that we can find the deep sources of racial liberation and healing.

Keynote Address: Race and Racism’s Impact on Health and Equity

Dr. Stephen C. Nelson will be delivering this keynote address at CentraCare Health’s 8th Annual Diversity Conference: Embracing Diversity to Thrive: Strategies for Business, Health Care, and Community.

Conference Session: The Body Already Knows: A Framework for Dismantling Race, Racism and Whiteness and Achieving Racial Justice

Dr. Hackman will be presenting this concurrent session at the White Privilege Conference in April. What stops any of us from taking action, what hampers our courage, what slows our resistance to injustice? This workshop is based on two key ideas: The first is that the creation of Race (and the system of racial oppression it supports) serves to unnaturally divide us from each other and disrupt our inherent human connection. The second is that the 50 trillion cells in our bodies already know how to live in just and supportive community and these patterns can serve as a powerful framework Thus, the dismantling of Race, Racism and Whiteness is not an idea or reality we “work toward” but rather a pathway that helps us all “come home” to our rightful human interdependence and find deep sources of racial liberation and healing. The workshop (1) begins by grounding into the body in myriad ways and helping participants explore the notion of “embodied racial justice”. To be sure, this is not a watering-down of critical race work and instead helps participants be more present and more capable of leaning into the complexities of racial justice work. (2) We discuss concrete concepts regarding Race, Racism and Whiteness such as the power of the U.S. “racial narrative” and the role of the White Imperial Gaze, (3) examine the innovative framework of “cellular wisdom” and then (4) practice using it to upend the divisive patterns of racial oppression and replace them with ways of being that speak more truthfully to our human connection and the core principles of racial justice. The workshop ends (5) with small group discussion and dedicated time for concrete application of this framework to participants’ lives and to their racial justice work.”

Conference Session: The Healer’s Power: How Whiteness Kills

Dr. Stephen C. Nelson will be presenting this concurrent session at the White Privilege Conference in April. This session will highlight how racism and whiteness affect the health of people of color. Even when the social determinants of health are equal, people of color have poorer outcomes in the United States. I will share my personal role and responsibility as a white male physician in racial health inequity. It can be very difficult to sustain social justice work at any institution. It has been especially difficult within healthcare. There is much resistance to this kind of work. We will examine the greatest barrier to health equity and institutional change…..the power of whiteness. Dr. Nelson will describe experiences and we will discuss the types of resistance to establishing social justice work. We will discuss tools and interventions to help break down these barriers. This will be a highly interactive session as we work together to build our super powers for breaking down institutional and personal barriers to social justice work. Participants will leave the workshop with: 1) A clearer sense of how racial bias and systemic racism impact the health of persons of color, 2) A clearer sense of the institutional barriers to social justice work, 3) An understanding of how we can break down these barriers with specific tools.

Conference Session: Know Racial Justice, Know Climate Justice: Why Getting to Climate and Environmental Justice Demands a Dismantling of Whiteness

Dr. Hackman will be presenting this concurrent workshop at the White Privilege Conference in April. Issues of climate disruption and environmental destruction are deeply connected to systems of Racism and Whiteness both in terms of who will suffer first and worst, and with respect to the ideological roots that have led our planet to this precipice. This session suggests how a racial justice lens can be used to more critically understand the roots causes of our current environmental moment, and demonstrate how it can be used as a means of finding deeply just and truly sustainable means of existing on this planet. The session begins by critically examining the race (and class and gender) mindset that has led us to this current climate moment and then offers a framework of racial (and gender and economic) justice to be used when developing climate and environmental solutions. The session is interactive via reflective questioning, paired discussion, and case study examples where participants can apply this knowledge to current technocratic and politically insufficient climate strategies and identify new, more racially just means of organizing and strategizing around climate issues. This session is best suited to folks who have both a basic understanding of current environmental realities and of racial justice concepts.

Pre-Conference Institute: Post-traumatic Master’s Syndrome: An Exploration of Whiteness as Trauma and Embodied Racial Justice

Dr. Hackman will be facilitating this pre-conference institute during the White Privilege Conference in April. Thanks to the work of Dr. Joy DeGruy and Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, as well as countless other POC/N folks who have spoken truth to power, we know that the deep and long-lasting impacts of racial oppression do not merely register in the systems of our society but also land in the bodies of those targeted. This work has been incredibly important in expanding our notions of what racial justice looks like and feels like. However, just as there can be no “oppressed” without the oppressor, the exploration of racism as trauma for the oppressed also requires an examination of the generational and historic dynamics of Whiteness and how it, too, lands as trauma in the bodies of multigenerational White folks. This day-long session will undertake that investigation and explore the ways that Whiteness as trauma has disrupted the work of even the most well-meaning White folks as they strive for racial justice. There is a cost to Whiteness, as we know, but that cost is often laid out in moral or ethical terms alone. This session explores another area of “cost” via the impacts on the body of witnessing, participating in, and/or ignoring the dynamics of racial oppression propagated in our name. Elements that will be explored are the general dynamics of trauma, dissociation, and the distancing effect that Whiteness has on many White people. Conceptually, the session begins with some grounding work and a few ways of getting into our bodies, it will then explore the narratives given White folks with respect to their racial identities and the ways they live those narratives out. The session will then turn to the more nuanced and complicated aspects of White privilege and White supremacy and the ways they synergistically feed each other, thereby supporting the ubiquitous dynamics of Whiteness in the U.S. More specifically, the session will explore the “counterweights” to the work of Dr. Degruy by leaning into three key aspects of “post-traumatic master’s syndrome”: 1) inflated esteem, 2) ever-present hostility toward / fear of People of Color / native peoples, and 3) supremacist socialization. The session concludes with work around resiliency tools and ways White people can more effectively show up in the midst of painful and complicated work for racial justice. Experientially, while the session will explore some intense aspects of what it means to be White in the U.S. it is not meant as a therapeutic space for White folks. Instead, this session seeks to create a space where White people can more deeply, thoughtfully and honestly explore places where they feel “inexplicably” stuck in their racial justice work. Through personal writing, paired conversations, small group work, and physical engagement, this workshop is designed to help White people ground the content in their bodies and establish “movement” through those “stuck” spaces. Because the session is completely geared toward the experience of White people, and therefore centers the White experience, it will not likely have significant resonance for participants of color / native participants. The session utilizes the work of Dr. Peter Levine, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Thea Lee, Tommy Wong, and of course the example set by Drs. DeGruy and Yellow Horse Brave Heart. The session is quite interactive, asks participants to lean into discomfort and seek authenticity, and is not well suited for those for whom racial equity issues are a new area of exploration.

Pre-Conference Workshop: Exploring Post-Traumatic Master’s Syndrome: Dismantling Whiteness and Moving to Action

Concurrent Session: The Body Already Knows: A Framework for Achieving Racial Justice

Conflict(ed) Within

During my college application process, I toyed with the idea of applying to West Point.  Then, when I was in college, I took a Military Science class, and thought about making the commitment to sign a contract for Army Reserved Officer Training Corp (R.O.T.C.).  Years later, I eventually recognized that I was in search of control, discipline, family, organization, and clear purpose (read: aspects of normalcy mixed with feelings of rebelliousness).  I’ve since recognized how some of my attraction to my idealized military experience was about desires I could not yet name, but that’s a different blog post.  What actually kept me from signing a contract was that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in practice.  I knew I could never stay closeted (I was an out lesbian in college) and I kind of bristled under certain commands – both clues it was unlikely I would successfully finish a term of service.  I share these memories to share my thinking about how, as a trans person, I am conflicted about the “policy dictate” via the very (un)presidential platform of Twitter to ban transgender people from serving in the military.  Let me explain a bit about my conflicted feelings…

To be sure, the tweet was a publicly malicious statement that denies the value and existence of transgender people who serve(d) in the military.  Once again, the message is clear that we do not belong, our lives are a distraction and disruption to “normal” people, and our transness makes us less than.  I cannot understand how personal choices about bio-medical transition options are a budget consideration and open for national debate; costs that are, based on actual empirical data, nominal.  I cannot understand how the goal of patriotic duty is not enough to overcome exclusion.

And here is where I get conflicted because I cannot even imagine the challenges that exist for openly (or stealth) transgender service people.  I cannot figure out how transness fits within a military paradigm of gender.  For some I think military service is about patriotism, but for others, I think military service is a form of economic necessity.

I am unconvinced about the positive role of the military in U.S. culture.  I admit that I am not as well-versed on the topics of militarism, nationalism, and imperialism.  Inclusion is an imperfect concept, and I struggle to determine whether inclusion of queer and trans people in the military is the kind of inclusion that demonstrates the liberatory future that could exist (see Barbara Love).  There is a homonormativity (see Kacere) about the argument for trans inclusion in the military; just another way to say we as trans people are “American” just like everyone else.  Violence is a reality for too many trans people, especially trans women of color (see Editors of Everyday Feminism), and let’s be clear: violence is a part of military tactics.  This is a complicated contradiction to manage, and certainly muddles my thinking.  There are people who write with far more nuance and sharp analysis of why the ban on transgender military personnel is problematic (see Dean Spade and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore), and I will not rehash their thinking here.

Instead what I offer is this: inclusion and exclusion are not a binary concept.  There are consequences to people for exclusion that interpersonally are difficult to reconcile.  Maybe because when I imagine liberation, I cannot figure out how we create a world where the military is unnecessary (this is my shortcoming).  So, if I can’t imagine a future without a military, then isn’t trans inclusion in the military necessary?  At the same time, I struggle to feel safe, comfortable, or empowered in the presence of those in uniform.  Might I feel less discomfort if I knew those in uniform were trans?  Honestly, I’m not sure that poses much influence on my feelings because the military is more complex than the individual in uniform; the armed forces are an institution built with rules, boundaries, and regulations that is only mildly influenced by individuals.

Was I surprised by the tweet?  No.  Maybe the most instructive thing relevant for me is to share is what I did feel.  The most acute feeling for me after the news of the tweet was resignation.  I felt resignation because the “travel ban” foreshadowed the isolationist, nationalist, and xenophobic policy decisions of the current administration.  I felt resignation because I expect these kind of institutional and cultural policies, as well as political decisions about the uneasy and contentious existence of transness.  I felt resignation because I knew this tweet energized the more normative queer and trans political organizations.  Military exclusion is the new thing to fire up the base in this “post-marriage” era (not all of us were interested in marriage to begin with, just like not all of us are interested in access to military service).  Is another non-discrimination policy going to really address this issue of institutional and systemic expectations that support trans exclusion?  (See Dean Spade for the limits of the law and Critical Trans Politics).  I felt resignation because where is the data about whether trans people would serve in the military if they had other options for employment, and access to healthcare and education?  I don’t know, but I think it would be a worthwhile research endeavor.  Why are queer and trans organizations supporting access to an institution that has stalled many (all?) attempts to address sexual violence, torture, hazing, and racism?

I felt resignation knowing the counter-story to this new “policy” highlights the “success” stories of trans people in the military – trans people who did not experience violence, harassment, or marginalization for being trans in the military (or who tell the story of persistence in the face of such experiences).  I also felt resignation because I am not willing tell a trans person that military service is inconsistent with the ideology of trans politics.  So, you see, I’m a bit conflicted, and maybe a bit of my resignation is turning into anger, and I have a lot of questions that are underneath the question of this false binary of trans exclusion/inclusion in military service.

Chase Catalano is a White trans* academic who focuses on higher education.  His scholarship focuses on trans* collegians (specifically, trans* men and trans* masculine students in higher education), social justice, and masculinities.  Prior to his role as an assistant professor he worked in student affairs as the director of an LGBT Resource Center.

Key Considerations for Folks in the Climate Justice Movement

In this vlog, Dr. Heather Hackman unpacks three key considerations for folks working in the climate justice movement. 1.) The importance of developing critical race, gender and class lenses 2.) As a country and individuals, the need to make amends and take responsibility 3.) The importance of educating, marshaling resources and maintaining hope.

© Hackman Consulting Group 2016
Produced by Sonia Keiner