Call For Submissions: It’s On Us Series: White Women Undoing White Supremacy in Global Health
By Bailey Borchardt, GHC’s Communications Associate, & Brittany Cesarini, GHC’s Director of Communications
At least once a year, in response to a horrific act of racial injustice in the U.S., a subset of white Americans will make a sweeping claim that this is the moment to step up to the work of dismantling white supremacy in our nation. More often than not, after a couple of news cycles, the urgency around the work unravels and white people go back to being complacent.
But white supremacy is not a natural state. It is an artificial construct that was built for white people, by white people. White people must do daily work to dismantle it, even as we listen, point to, and follow the lead of Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).
White women have a history, especially in America, of taking up space at the forefront of women’s rights movements, while strategically leaving behind Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color to maintain power. While we as white women face our own unique sets of adversity, women of color face additional forms of inequity and violence that we will never understand firsthand.
As two white women working in communications for Global Health Corps, we are committed to disrupting white supremacy in our own work, which includes co-editing GHC’s publication AMPLIFY. This requires regular reflection on where our actions or words fall short of our espoused values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In that spirit, we each wrote a piece to kick off this series: read Bailey’s piece here and Brittany’s piece here.
We chose to title this series “It’s On Us” because as white people, more specifically, white women, working within the nonprofit sector, it is on us to not only acknowledge the systemic ways in which white supremacy manifests in our work but to also hold ourselves accountable for disrupting the system. With white women comprising 80% of the nonprofit sector, we have to be part of the change.
“Patriarchy seeds a deep fear of conflict in women. Breeding fear of conflict is a tried and true strategy for keeping women in line. This fear of conflict is reflected in white women’s communication patterns. Passive-aggressive feedback, in-direct communication, or downright lying are ways white women retain a tight grasp on “niceness.” One insidious way white women prioritize niceness is by neutralizing discomfort. When critical feedback is offered, white women often turn the conversation towards “looking on the bright side.” Pointing out white supremacy is dismissed as “being negative.” This has the effect of shaming folks and dismissing essential information about an organization’s impact.” -Heather Lane Talley for The Equity Center, 2019
In her piece written for Equity in the Center, Heather Laine Talley poses the question: “What are the everyday ways that we — white women — can show up to truly disrupt white supremacy in a sector that is, ostensibly, about making the world a more just place?” In the same piece, she goes on to list ways in which white women, in particular, perpetuate white supremacy culture, including:
- Disavowal of Power
- Obsession with the Future
- Performative Anti-Racism
- Niceness Above All Else
- Confusing Informality with Equity
To foster accountability, we invite GHC community members who identify as white and female to reflect on each of the characteristics above, as well as some deeper questions:
- What are some of the ways the above qualities have manifested in your work?
- What is your vision for truly dismantling white supremacy in your workplace culture?
- How are you holding yourself and your fellow white women accountable?
- How do we make this work sustainable?
What can you submit?
- Your words, your format. We welcome personal reflections, photo essays, in-depth analysis, interviews, op-eds, and more. Check out AMPLIFY for inspiration on format types.
- Between 500–1200 words. Check out our guide to writing for AMPLIFY.
- Still have questions? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com.
Happy reflecting and writing!