More Than Skin Deep: Uprooting White Privilege and White Supremacy One Cell At a Time

What does it mean to be white and anti-racist at this particular moment in time? What does it mean to show up for racial justice in your classroom, your workplace, your family, your home? To show up in solidarity for and with #Black Lives Matter, @NotYourMascot? And what does it mean to work with other white people towards ending whiteness without falling back into the same old patterns of privilege and disconnection?

Skin Deep is for white people who already have an understanding of race, racism and, particularly, whiteness (RRW), and want to learn more about how to dismantle whiteness (white Privilege and white supremacy) as it shows up within their bodies, their families and in the systems around them. By white people we recognize multigenerational white people, first generation including white immigrants, and white people with complex identities. While the focus of the institute is on whiteness, all concepts and tools presented are designed to improve white racial justice work, decenter whiteness and ultimately end racial oppression.

Here’s what you can expect to learn

  • The connection between systems of RRW and nervous system patterns in the individual and social body of white people
  • The ways these systems of disconnection inhibit effective and consistent racial justice work on the part of white people
  • Tools and practice to better respond to how this interruption happens and to then build resiliency in white people
  • What it means to build white accountability and white coalitions that continually center racial justice
  • An evolving framework for participating in a collective pathway to dismantling racism and whiteness in U.S. society

Background on the workshop

In order to end systems of racial dominance, we have to end whiteness. Period. Ending whiteness means changing the systems of perpetuation but ending whiteness demands more than that. Individuals, families and communities that have been socialized as white have been conditioned from birth to benefit from and support racial dominance. Changing these patterns demands education but information is not enough. White conditioning begins when white bodies are preverbal; when small children are being taught, directly and indirectly, by the adults around them. This work is about literally becoming a different kind of person from the cells out. This work is also about finding ways to shift these patterns without continually re-centering whiteness, white experience and white learning.

The intention of Skin Deep is to use critical race content and somatic (body-based) exploration to uproot ideologies of white supremacy and systems of white privilege in our lives. This is done through becoming more conscious around the presence of RRW in our deepest selves as well as in our work to end racism and the historical trauma it has created. To be clear, this is not about subtly re-centering whiteness, but instead is work white people must do in the service of ultimately dismantling the structures of racial oppression in our society, in our work places, in our communities, in our families and in ourselves.

The presenters of this workshop are currently working with a number of community leaders to support a similar workshop specifically for indigenous people and people of color in 2015 or 2016. A portion of what is raised through Skin Deep, as well as through the Solidarity Training for White Folks (with Ricardo Levins Morales, Arif Mamdani, Liz Loeb and Susan) goes towards supporting this future and free convening.


February 20-22, 2015 Minneapolis, MN

  • Friday, February 20  8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, February 21 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sunday, February 22 8:00 am – 12:00 noon

Participants from out of town are asked to arrive on Thursday evening in order to begin at 8:00 am on Friday, February 20.

Healthy lunch, beverages and snacks will be provided on Friday and Saturday. Heavier snacks will be provided on Sunday.


Minneapolis, MN. Specific location information will be shared with attendees once they have registered.


Susan Raffo is a writer, community organizer, craniosacral therapist and global somatics practitioner. Her interest is to bring together embodiment work and experiences with political work and experiences to end oppression and further social justice.

Heather Hackman was a professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota for 12 years where she taught courses in race and racism, heterosexism and homophobia, oppression and social change, sexism and gender oppression, class oppression, and Jewish oppression. Now that she is focusing full-time on consulting, her most recent research and conference presentations have focused on climate change and its intersections with issues of race, class and gender.

While we have been doing this work individually and together for a number of years, we feel it is important to note that we are not positioning ourselves as “experts” on the issue of race, racism, white privilege or white supremacy as white supremacy would have us (and any whites doing this work) subtly do. Instead, we are simply attempting to share some of the experience we have gained in doing our own work and working with others around these issues and welcome your contributions to this workshop as we grow together.


Sliding scale $225-$450*

What is a sliding fee scale?

A sliding scale is a tool for ensuring equal accessibility to services, regardless of financial resources, and it requires your active participation. If a sliding scale is implemented effectively, everyone pays a similar percentage of their income for the same services. In other words, for some of us $225 is a lot of money and represents a significant percentage of food/rent money. For others, $225 is an amount they can spend without noticing.

Sliding scales are often based on individual income levels, with people of higher incomes paying more.  Once a visible form of payment, most people no longer use the sliding fee scale. Their experience – and every study out there –  has found that people with more income pay less in a sliding fee than they can afford and people with less income (people living in poverty and on very low wages) often pay more.  This is true about almost all aspects of charitable giving and reflects a broader issue of culture, resources and economic justice combined with trauma and cultural patterns. (For more on class and economics, check out resources like or United For a Fair Economy.)

We believe in staying with a sliding fee scale. Our income for this work comes out of what you pay for the workshop. In order to afford offering Skin Deep and workshops like it without being sponsored by a larger institution, we need to raise enough to cover our costs and to provide income. At the same time, we want the workshop to be accessible to a range of incomes.  And finally, we are also using this workshop to raise dollars for similar work for people of color and indigenous people. All of these are factored into the cost.

How much do I pay?

For a sliding fee scale to work, each one of us has to honestly self-assess and then be willing to stretch. The questions to consider: how much can I truly afford? What is the value of this work for me?

Do you automatically think – “oh, I don’t have any money” and set up to pay the lower end? Stop for a second. Feeling broke and being broke are two different things. You should not pay the lowest end if:

  • You regularly buy coffee at coffee shops.
  • You go out to movies or other social events at least two or three times a month.
  • You buy yourself new clothes because you like how they look rather than you have no more warm sweaters.
  • You regularly pay for things like getting facials or manicures or massages and they are not part of chronic pain management or other life survival issues.
  • You have ways to get extra income when you need it – by calling your parents, for example.
  • You know you can afford to pay this without needing to think twice about it, even if it feels like a lot of money.

Registration Instructions

To register, email, and include the following information in your email:

  • Legal Name
  • Preferred Name
  • Preferred Gender Pronouns
  • Contact info: Mailing Address, Email and Phone
  • Planned payment amount (Sliding Scale $225 – $450*)

Once you’ve emailed your registration information, you can expect to receive a return email within 2-5 days with payment information and a registration confirmation. Additional information about workshop space location, Minneapolis transit and hotel options, and a more in-depth attendee questionnaire will be emailed to registrants closer to the date of the workshop.

Registration deadline

Until filled (Register early. In the past, all Skin Deep workshops held in Minneapolis filled to capacity well before the registration deadline.)

*If you are able and willing to add extra above the top of the sliding fee scale in order to support someone with limited income to attend, we welcome you to consider doing so. As we get closer to the workshop dates, if we have received enough registrations to cover our costs, we will open up registrations at a low rate for a limited number of participants.