White Privilege

We want to address a recent blog post by November Project Brooklyn co-leader Maggie Huang. Maggie shares a detailed personal story, but the fact that her experience could have been experienced by any BIPOC Co-leader, or member, is not lost on us. Maggie, we thank you for your courage to share and we’re deeply sorry for all the harm we have done to you and all the people that have found their story reflected in your words.

We realize that by upholding many white supremacy culture characteristics in NP, we failed to provide a safe space for Maggie, and with our actions we caused her immense pain. As two cisgender heterosexual white men, we cannot begin to imagine how must it felt to be in Maggie’s shoes, but we can pledge to learn from her experiences and take immediate action. More specifically:

1. Commit to making organizational changes to foster a safe space for our Co-leaders and members by creating a formal HR department and include Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous members onto the NP HQ team.
2. Commit to including more Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous members as Co-leaders.
3. Hold Town halls for NP leaders and members to facilitate discussions about anti-racism.
4. Identify areas where NPHQ may hold white supremacy culture characteristics and work on antidotes.
5. Provide resources to our Co-leaders and members that promote inclusivity.
6. Commit to building a culture of accountability and learning from our mistakes by encouraging Co-leaders and members to openly or anonymously share their thoughts, questions, and comments.

We have referred to our organizational work to dismantle white supremacy in the past. However, we acknowledge that we need to move faster and need to dedicate more resources and energy to address this now and moving forward. We will hold ourselves accountable and invite our members and Co-leaders to continue to hold us accountable.

For the organization whose motto is “Just Show Up,” we need to listen to our own words and show up for our Co-leaders, members, and the NP community as a whole.

Bojan and BG

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14 Replies to “White Privilege”

    1. As a Canadian, the way the US shoves “White Privilege” around, no wonder you guys have problems. The key to ending racism is just stop talking about race constantly, stop pointing it out. Also..”white people” do not think collectively, and are generally not connected to things that happened hundreds of years ago. Throwing around White Privilege terms will get you Whities canceled.
      “I quit NP“

      1. Tanya, it’s been widely pointed out by many POC that ignoring racism makes it worse, not better. In the US, many of our norms and systems are so deliberately exclusionary that we either fight them or we participate in that exclusion; there’s no middle ground. They read as neutral, until you learn the history and how they disproportionately impact groups of folks. What many of us learn as “neutral” is “white culture,” so when we want to be inclusive, we have to navigate new norms that feel extreme because we (white people) have been socialized to think of everyone else as “other,” and other cultural norms as deviant or strange–thus forcing everyone else to navigate around us. That isn’t neutral, it’s exclusionary, even though it’s the predominant practice. So, no, we can’t get rid of racism by pretending it’s not there.
        And before you say “you have problems,” I encourage you to look at Canada’s relationships with its First Nations. The Mi’kmaw, Wet’suwet’en, and several other nations are currently experiencing disastrous and violent encroachment on their sovereign rights and territories. We all have things we need to confront and heal.

        1. As a white, straight man from Canada, I’d just like to say that not listening to all people, by not talking about these issues, we’ve arrived in a huge mess of a situation, no matter which country you’re in. Canada has to address what is a sort of quieter “nicer” white supremacy. Even acknowledging that reality means Canadians have to recognize we’re not the noble, hard working, kind, polite society our mythology (our white settler mythology) tells us.

          There’s a lot to do, because we have to understand that who we are, what roles we’ve played, and how we define ourselves isn’t always supported by the facts. We need to change our world view and open our minds.

          Erin, I really appreciate the points you’ve made, thank you for being so well put.

          As for NP HQ, these are nice statements, but there needs to be follow up. I hope you’ll report through this blog and other channels HOW things are being addressed, how progress is coming, what you’re learning, and what mistakes have been, and are being made. Otherwise, you’re just making promises with no substance to them.

  1. From one person on the learning journey to those of you that want to help but don’t know how: start listening. Be humble and ready to fuck up. Don’t delete – absorb, apologize, vow to do better. Read. Listen to podcasts- start with Code switch episode one and listen to them all. This is your help on how to help.

    1. Hi Jen! I just looked up and there are 2… the code switch and NPR code switch… both are very similar. I actually would like to listen to both but I wanted to start with the one you recommend! Thank you!

  2. In your numbered commitments, “Commit to including more Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous members as Co-leaders.” It might be more meaningful and helpful to actually be specific. Instead of “commit to including more” BIPOC Co-Leaders, why not say, “Commit to having 50%, 60%, 70% of our Co-Leaders be BIPOC” Like – it just sounds like you’re trying to pat yourself on the back by saying “more” BIPOC, why not commit to a meaningful change? This advice could be applied to many of your other points, in terms of setting a specific goal/intention.

  3. First, I admit that I have no horse in this race, as I have no relationship whatsoever with NP. And if it matters–and I don’t think it should–I am Asian.

    I have seen articles like this (“I am invalidated because I’m a minority”) and comments like these (“We apologize for our privilege”) many times in various forums/groups. All I can say is this: people like Maggie will always exist, who don’t see their own privileges or their own shortcomings, or fail to celebrate their uniqueness, and choose only to dwell on hurtful experiences. I highly doubt that Maggie’s sole identity is Victim. Sometime, somewhere, she has also caused hurt to others and behaved unjustly (because every human being has).

    No amount of apologizing or self-reflection will satisfy the Maggies of our society, since the nature of human interactions means that there is always going to be another hurtful experience somewhere down the line. The kinds of grievances I read about in the States (e.g. a group won’t celebrate the holiday that I like) would be laughable in other countries I’ve lived in where minorities’ lives and livelihoods are threatened, not just feelings. Would it be great if no one’s feelings were ever hurt? Sure. But let’s recognize that that’s a pipe dream, an unreachable goal. And so while we Americans navel gaze at relatively insignificant problems, there are many graver injustices all around us. Groups like NP and its members should consider which issues to give energy to: those that will bring relief and tangible help to many who are suffering horrific injustices, or those that will allow them to virtue signal and make themselves feel better.

    Obviously, NP and its members can do what they want and address whatever issues they want. But I predict that self-flagellation on this issue of accommodating hurt feelings will never be enough and will only lead to more disunity.

  4. I am hoping that more than anything- what can be taken away from Maggie’s post and this follow up is that there is so much growth and progress that need to be made. There are so many great things about NP, and sadly, or normally, like all organizations, they have blind spots and weak spots. Whether you identify, think Maggie’s thoughts are too extreme, or feel as though she didn’t share enough about the reality of exclusivity that her and others feel- I hope the over all message is that there is necessary growth. And growth doesn’t happen until someone who is very brave steps up and sheds light on the blind spots, weak spots, terribly hurtful spots. As a huge group of people who love NP- I hope to see so many of you all moving towards the frustrations not just in a way of pointing out how terrible certain aspects of NP are, but to start moving in the direction of growth, change, activism. Pointing out and bringing out bad- or terrible, aspects of an organization are 100% necessary for growth. But hopefully people feel as though that is the goal- growth: to be a part of the change, not to abandon NP because you are now aware that this organization is not as perfect and amazing as you thought it was.

    Thank you, Maggie for sharing, and thank you, to everyone else who is now signing up to be a part of the growth- so that what Maggie has shared about her experiences does not continue to be the story that others have to share in the future.

  5. Yes Carly. This. 100%.

    I have been trying to find the words to explain exactly what you’ve said here. Thank you for articulating what has been on my heart.
    Love this community and looking forward to being a part of the continued growth.

    Thank you Maggie for your bravery through such a heartbreaking & beautiful testimony of your experience. Let’s learn from this, lean on one another, and do better.

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