The Skeleton Key: Dismantle
The Skeleton Key: Dismantle is an offering to white women to begin to dismantle the white supremacy we carry in our own bones.
This is a life-long process, not something that can be finished in a single course. This course is only a beginning, but it is a beginning.
White women, we have work to do.
The harm we inflict on people of color, especially women of color, is insidious. This harm hides in spiritual language and masks itself in women’s empowerment and feminist theories. This harm marches in pink pussy hats. This harm wears safety pins. This harm says all voices matter, even while some voices are being abusive in real time. This harm waits to see all sides. This harm wants all women to unite together; it says we are beyond color; it says “I am not a racist.” This harm is shocked this is still happening, ignoring that it has always been happening, and that it has always been happening at the hands of white women.
We know the patriarchy oppresses us. But we don’t see the ways we oppress others. And when we do see it, when we are shown the ways our whiteness is a weapon, the guilt and shame is overwhelming.
And so when white women are told we cause harm, we look to the black women, the brown women, the indigenous women, to help us see the way forward. We place the burden of proving the abuse on their shoulders, even while we ask them to make us feel better about our own complicity in their abuse. We ask them to be nice when they tell us our niceness and goodness is killing them. We want to talk it out. We want to be told we are one of the good ones. We want anything but to sit with our own poison, to look at our own guilt, our own responsibility.
The time for talking about doing better is over. That time has long passed. As we cross over into 2018, it is our responsiblity to make sure we are ready and able to stop talking about doing the work, and start doing the work that desperately needs to be done.
This is how we start.
This course is for white women** to examine the specific ways we cause harm, and will offer tools to begin the dismantling of those beliefs and behaviors.
**If you hold an identity often harmed by white ciswomen, such as transwomen or non-binary folks, I would not recommend joining in this course. We will be looking at the specific way white cisgender* women cause harm and perpetuate white supremacy, and doing so means this may not be a safe space for non-cis women.
As white women, we need a way to extract ourselves from the poison that keeps us small, afraid and dangerous.
We need the internal resources and awareness that make it possible to stay present and engaged when we talk about racial abuse, and when we are shown our own complicity in it, intentional or not.
We need to find our own voice, because the perpetuation of injustice through silence and cowardice is violence, and a separation from one’s own soul.
We need to come together and find a way to know ourselves as sovereign and strong. We need to do it for ourselves, not for ally cookies or safety pin swag, because this is not about playing the role of Good White Person. This is about doing the needed and overdue work for our collective and individual liberation.
*cisgender (often abbreviated to simply “cis”) is a term for people who’s experience of gender corresponds to the gender (male/female) assigned to them at birth.
This will be a examination of the unconsciousness and compartmentalization that allows one to profess anti-racist ideals and allyship, and yet perpetuate racist violence. We will be addressing the specific ways white women do this.
- 5 weeks, beginning on February 4th, 2018. The course will run from February 4th until March 10th.
- 4 two-hour phone calls via Zoom, a private video conferencing service.
- The phone calls will take place on Wednesdays during the course, with no call on Wednesday February 14th. Calls will be recorded but recordings will not be shared to respect the container of the space. My debriefing notes will be sent out after each call.
- Private group hosted on Mighty Networks, with the express reason of taking this off Facebook.
- Reading/content viewing lists emailed out each week. Topics covered:
- The context of whiteness
- The ways white womanhood has been always been a tool of white supremacy
- Contextual examples of the practices of gaslighting, white centering and fragility, fetishization and othering of non-white people
- White co-opting of social justice work, especially in the realms of online entreprenuership and white spirituality
- Somatic awareness practices to create the embodied awareness and support necessary to do this work on a truly transformational level.
This is where the work will really live: using truth to get into the body, finding ways to sit with what is found there, and what that offers in the continuous dismantling of systemic and individual oppression.
We’ll gather as white women to accept the poison that is ours and our responsibility to it. It is only through the acceptance of the poison that we can hope to alchemize it into the medicine we need.
This has been a booster-blast of focused energy to dismantle whiteness in my life. It’s been uncomfortable and healing at the same time. I am forever altered. -Rochelle McLaughlin, past participant.
The Skeleton Key: Dismantle will be led by me, Abigail Rose Clarke. I’m white. I’m not perfect at this. But this work is where I live.
I am primarily a somatic awareness faciliator (through yoga and other modalities) and coach. While my work always takes the dismantling of whiteness into account, I am not a racial justice educator. This course is not a course on racial justice. This course is being offered in explicit response to the need for white women to gather on our own to sit in brave spaces together, to expressly examine our identities and responsiblities as white women. It is with this hope that I offer this course, and that I offer this course with the skills I have in facilitating somatic awareness.
I am not doing this alone. I could not do this alone. I am doing this at the request and with the paid collaboration of women of color.
- Staci Jordan Shelton will be monitoring the process and the content to make sure I am not allowing my whiteness to keep me from seeing the way forward. She will hold me accountable, so I can better hold the group accountable.
- Bessie Pearl Jones is trained in anti-racism and will be on the advistory council for this course.
- Alexis P. Morgan aided in the curation of the recommended reading list for the course.
- Lena West is assisting me in the marketing, course design, and content delivery of this course.
Abigail is absolutely the best person possible to lead white women in doing the work to dismantle racism and white supremacy. Her experience, background and ability to hold space for others on their journey makes this obvious even to those who don’t know her well. This work must be done. It is time.
-Lena West, Business Growth Strategist and Founder of Crescent: The Mastermind Experience
What you can expect:
This will be a brave space. We will be going into the darkness together.
This will be a safe space. Shame and humiliation will not be used or tolerated here.
This will not be a comfortable space.
We will be sitting with the truth, and the truth of white women’s involvement with the oppression of people of color is a long and horrible one. I will be asking you to look into the dark places in our collective and in your individual history. Some of this could be very new for some of you. I will be asking you to engage with history that is violent and bloody. This is tender territory because of the common trope of white pornification of the pain of people of color. But without exploring this context of the history of whiteness, which is the history of white-inflicted pain and abuse on people of color, we continue the lies that perpetuate the toxic relationship between white people – in particular, white women – and people of color. This work is more important than my fear of doing it. So I am doing it, and if you’re ready, we will do it together.
This is not a way to become good. Doing this course will not result in being woke. Participating in this course is one step of a lifetime of steps we are responsible to take.
Calls will be recorded, but those recordings will not be shared. The recordings are a way to hold me accountable: to do my best as the faciliator of this course, I will need to be held accountable to what was actually said in the space, and not just what I think was said. But by not sharing the recordings with participants who miss a call, I am honoring the strong container necessary for this process to truly be effective.
This will be a learning space, and as with all transformative learning spaces, your active participation is required.
My notes from the call, and any applicable notes from my weekly debriefing with Staci Jordan Shelton will be shared via the private group for the course hosted on Mighty Networks, along with other resources to take the work deeper between calls.
This course is for you, if…
- You are unsure of how to speak up when you see racial violence, either online or in person.
- You have ever wished people of color would be less angry when talking about racism.
- You ever thought a person of color was exaggerating the role of racist oppression in their lives.
- You are surprised and overwhelmed by how many black people are being killed by police in the United States.
- You are hurt or angry that women of color are angry at white women.
- You’ve ever been told you were centering your feelings, derailing a conversation, or appropriating the pain of people of color and did not understand why.
- You feel “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” in your engagement with women of color.
- You’re afraid of doing it wrong, so instead you do nothing.
- You feel a need to convince a person of color that you are one of the good white people.
- You are desperate for the dismantling of white supremacy, even though it means facing the painful truth about our complicity in racial oppression as white women.
- You see your personal liberation as intrinsincally linked to the collective liberation.
- You’ve ever shamed another white woman for not being good enough at dismantling racism, for not knowing enough, for not knowing the right words or saying the right things. This course is for you too. In dismantling our internal white supremacy, we will be dismantling the shame that perpetuates the binary making some people good and others bad, a fundamental tool of white supremacy.
This course is NOT for you, if…
- You believe “separation politics” is a thing.
- Reading this makes you want to yell at me for contributing to the divisiveness that perpetuates racism.
- You are right now composing an email in your head telling me all the ways I am contributing to the problem. This course isn’t for you. This course will be for the white women who are ready to be better equiped to talk with people like you. In other words, sure, write the email. Put me on blast. You can’t shake me, I’m already shook.
I trust Abigail with this work because she’s doing her own work. She understands that we cannot diminish the humanity of another without damaging our own. Her ability to look at hard truths and hold space to help people navigate them with courage and honesty is a gift.
-Staci Jordan Shelton, performance consultant, founder and developer of Unraveled Transformative Process, public speaker and facilitator
If you’re saying you’re ready to do the work, let’s do the work.
“White women, we have work to do.” For me, that work was long overdue. It was something that had been gnawing at me from the inside for longer than I wanted to admit, because I wasn’t sure how to start. Then I found this course. I began the process of consciously dismantling the White Supremacy that was living within me. It was – and is – messy, uncomfortable, beautiful, and long overdue. Although I see I’ll never be done, this course has been a catalyst for me, taking me to places inside myself I didn’t want to believe were there and teaching me how to sit with the discomft of those realizations so they could begin to be dismantled. I recommend this course to every white woman who is ready to dismantle the whiteness within that prevents us from showing up in spaces and conversations that need to be had, in a way that supports and centers Women of Color. To be clear: white women, if you believe you are not racist, you must run – not walk – to sign up for this course.”
– Deana Welch, past participant
For a long time, it was slo clear to me that something needed to change in the world. But I felt completely lost as to how to begin to change anything. I’ve never been an activist of any kind, or even outspoken about anything. What can I do? But the Dismantle course showed me how and where to begin – in the obvious place – myself. Starting with the personal has made this work palpable and urgent, and yet doable, step by step. Abigail is an amazing guide for anyting beginning this lifelong journey. This course is the place to start. – Pauline Boyce, past participant
This course can count as Continuing Education Hours through the Yoga Alliance® for certified yoga instructors. Just because this isn’t taught in most yoga trainings doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be.
Terms and Conditions:
Payment is accepted via Gumroad. You’ll get a receipt for all payments. Receipts are important. If you don’t get one, tell me.
Payment plans are due in full by February 18th, 2018.
There are no refunds. Make sure this is something you’re ready for before you sign up. If you have questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All conversations and communication within the course is to be held as private and confidential. Not complying with this is grounds for immediate dismissal from the course, with no refund given.
Calls will be recorded. These recordings will be used only by Abigail Rose Clarke and Staci Jordan Shelton in their respective roles in the course. Recordings of the calls will not be emailed to participants. Debriefing notes will be provided for all participants after each call.
The personal information of group members will not be shared or sold for any reason whatsoever.
My work is my work. Your work is your work. Your participation in this course includes the agreement not to modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, create derivative works from, display, distribute, reproduce, perform or in any way exploit my work, or any other group member’s work, in whole or in part, without prior written consent. My agreement to you is the same.
For the full legalities on the scope of my responsilbility to and for my work, you can read the full legal disclaimer for this and anything done by Abigail Rose Clarke Ltd. here.