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Waking ourselves for the benefit of all.

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Introduction to Session Three Study Section

The primary homework we hope you’ll complete to prepare for session three focuses on harm that our ancestors (family, cultural, or simply the collective “ancestors” of whiteness) caused. Before you work with the study materials of this section, we want to acknowledge four things:

  • The scope of harm caused that we could consider is too vast to be represented in any two week homework assignment. The study selections we’ve put together are not meant to be representative of all harm caused, but merely a window into it.

  • The historical harms of white supremacy have not stopped; each window we look through has its own trajectory into the present, where these harms continue today.

  • To state the obvious, antisemitism has a different relationship to the ancestral window of this session for Jews vs non-Jewish participants. Antisemitism is part of the harm of white supremacy, enmeshed within the roots and projecting into the present. We will be working with material on antisemitism in different ways at different points in the course. We encourage our Jewish participants to care for themselves as they consider their relationship to this harm.

  • Spending time with the resources we have put together for Session Three will take considerable emotional energy. Please pace yourself, respect your limits, and practice self care.


On this last point: If at some point what you are studying is too much to take in right now, please listen to yourself; do not allow the work of this class to interfere with your ability to fulfill your present day responsibilities or maintain sufficient emotional regulation for emotional/mental health. Please eat well, drink water, and do what you can to get adequate sleep. Additionally, we hope you will read over the activities portion of your homework and schedule intermittent times over the course of the next two weeks to engage in different activities we’ve assigned. These are designed to help you ground and discharge any grief, anger, numbness or overwhelm you may encounter as you work with the material for Session Three.


For those of you who are not from the US, we hope that you can consider our US focus as a case study, facets of which can then be applied to the specifics of your country of origin. Keep in mind that the relationship between settlers and the indigenous peoples of any settler colonial nation state (US, Canada, Australia, etc) will be very similar. Also, folks whose ancestors never left Europe nevertheless have an inherited relationship to the legacy of European colonialism and imperialism abroad.


Your study begins with a selection from Medicine Stories, by Aurora Levins Morales. From this selection, we would like to highlight this quote:


“Acknowledging our ancestors' participation in the oppression of others and deciding to balance the accounts on their behalf leads to greater integrity and less shame… It becomes possible to see the choices we make right now as extensions of those inherited ones, and to choose more courageously as a result.”


May it be so.


Return to the course participant page.

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