Brock Dolman: Thirsty for a Balanced Water Budget [Ep. 141]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Brock Dolman co-directs the WATER InstitutePermaculture Design Program and Wildlands Program. He has taught Permaculture and consulted on regenerative project design and implementation internationally in Costa Rica, Ecuador, U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, Brazil, China, Canada, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba and widely in the U.S. He has been the keynote presenter at numerous conferences and was featured in the award-winning films The 11th Hour by Leonardo DiCaprio, The Call of Life by Species Alliance, and Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution by Vanessa Shultz. In October of 2012, he gave a City 2.0 TEDx talk. Brock completed his BA in the Biology and Environmental Studies departments at the University of California Santa Cruz in 1992, graduating with honors. For over a decade, he has served as an appointed commissioner on the Sonoma County Fish & Wildlife Commission

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Some highlights from Kevin Bayuk’s conversation with Brock Dolman include:

  • Unpacking aspects of the ecological, biological, & economic importance of water

  • Adaptation to global warming by maximizing/stretching our water budgets at various scales

  • Suggestions for transitioning ecologically from viscous cycles to virtuous cycles & personal resilience strategies

  • An overview of some of Brock’s exciting projects at The WATER Institute at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center and beyond

Resources:

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Kevin Bayuk, Co-founder and Partner at LIFT Economy, works at the intersection of ecology and economy where permaculture design meets next economy organizations intent on meeting human needs while enhancing the conditions conducive to all life. He is the Senior Financial Fellow at Project Drawdown and a founding partner of the Urban Permaculture Institute.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinbayuk or email him kevin@lifteconomy.com.

Rinku Sen: Racial Justice, Feminism, and Economic Empowerment [Ep. 140]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Rinku Sen is a writer and a political strategist. She is currently Senior Strategist at Race Forward, having formerly served as Executive Director and as Publisher of their award-winning news site Colorlines. She is also a James O. Gibson Innovation Fellow at PolicyLink. Under Sen’s leadership, Race Forward has generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes of recent years, including Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets changing their practice. Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems. She writes and curates the news at rinkusen.com.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Rinku Sen include:

How Rinku initially got into racial justice organizing at Brown University

  • Rinku’s professional path through Race Forward and the Center for Third World Organizing

  • How she thinks about centering race, without losing sight of other historically marginalized communities

  • How the Restaurant Opportunities Center (which she covered in her second book, The Accidental American) has created a model for successful organizing of low-wage workers that has actually changed the restaurant industry

  • Rinku’s thoughts on identity politics and her new book that is in the works

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Tiffany Jana: Erasing Institutional Bias [Ep. 139]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Dr. Jana is the founder and CEO of TMI Portfolio, a collection of socially responsible and interconnected companies working to advance more culturally inclusive and equitable workforces. An award-winning diversity practitioner and international public speaker, Dr. Jana has been featured in publications including Psychology Today, the Huffington Post, Fast Company, MarketWatch, and Forbes. They were also named an Inc.com Top 100 Leadership Speaker in 2018.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Tiffany Jana include:

  • How Dr. Jana got into the work she is doing today

  • Why the first step to erasing institutional bias is understanding the problem

  • The different types of biases Dr. Jana explains in her book, including occupational, racial, gender, hiring, customer, and retribution bias

  • Dr. Jana’s new tech product, Loom, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help companies identify and address bias in their workplaces

  • Whether Dr. Jana is optimistic or pessimistic about racial justice in a time of Trump

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Esteban Kelly: Transformative Justice, Economic Democracy, & Collective Liberation [Ep. 138]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Esteban Kelly is a visionary leader and compassionate strategist who inspires organizers by drawing on science fiction, social theory, and collective liberation. Uniting close friends and long-time co-organizers, Esteban was inspired to co-create AORTA culling together his creative energy and organizational skills for expanding food sovereignty, solidarity economy & cooperative business, gender justice & queer liberation, and movements for racial justice.

Esteban’s work is vast. In addition to working for AORTA, he is the Co-Executive Director for the US Federation of Worker Co-ops (USFWC), and a co-founder and current board President of the cross-sector Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA).

Internationally, Esteban has advocated for workplace democracy through the ICA (International Cooperative Alliance) and CICOPA (the international worker co-op federation), and for land reform and other social movements from Canada to Brazil.

After many years as a PhD student of Marxist Geographers at the CUNY Graduate Center, Esteban has left academia with a Masters in Anthropology. Most recently, Esteban worked as Development Director and then Staff Director for the New Economy Coalition. From 2009-2011, Esteban served as Vice President of the USFWC, and a board member of the Democracy At Work Institute (DAWI) and the US Solidarity Economy Network. He is also a previous Director of Education & Training and Board President of NASCO (North American Students for Cooperation) where he was inducted into their Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2011. He currently serves on the boards of the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA–CLUSA), and is an advisor to the network of artist-activist trainers, Beautiful Trouble.

Firmly rooted in West Philly, Esteban’s skills and analysis of transformative justice stem from his decade-plus of organizing with the Philly Stands Up collective. Similarly, Esteban worked through a major food co-op transition as a worker–owner at Mariposa Food Co-op, where he co-founded its Food Justice & Anti-Racism working group (FJAR) and labored to institutionalize the Mariposa Staff Collective. In light of these efforts, Esteban became a Mayoral appointee to the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC), and works to advance education, systemic thinking, and anti-oppression organizing into all of his food advocacy work. 

You can contact Esteban at: esteban(at)aorta(dot)coop and follow him on Twitter: @estebantitos

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Some highlights from Shawn Berry’s conversation with Esteban Kelly include:

  • Esteban’s nonlinear and emergent visionary approach to movement leadership as well as his own career trajectory

  • Unpacking terms like Economic Democracy, Transformative Justice, & Collective Liberation

  • Exploring some of the historic cultural erasure of the cooperative economic heritage of communities of color

  • Differentiating capitalism from economics and business & increasing awareness of the is in the collective consciousness

  • How Esteban maintains hope and inspiration by focusing in on the generative work of constructing a better economy while being in allyship with resistance movements

Resources:

Frantz Fanon

Transformative Justice

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Shawn Berry, Partner at LIFT Economy, works as an organizational strategist inspired to harness the power of business to create resilient local economies as patterns to be documented, open sourced, scaled globally and adapted regionally. You can follow Shawn on Twitter @sd_berry or email him shawn@lifteconomy.com.

Leah Penniman: Farming While Black [Ep. 137]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


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Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. As co-Executive Director, Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs - including farmer trainings for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for people living under food apartheid, and regional organizing toward equity in the food system. Leah holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University, and is a Manye (Queen Mother) in Vodun. Leah has been farming since 1996 and teaching since 2002. The work of Leah and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Omega Sustainability Leadership Award, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (Chelsea Green Publishing, November 2018) is a love song for the land and her people. Follow her @soulfirefarm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Some highlights from Andrew Baskin’s conversation with Leah Penniman include:

  • Stories of unquantifiably valuable moments of healing of intergenerational trauma through relationship with land for people of color

  • How Leah’s new book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, overcomes cultural erasure by providing a rare resource for Black/POC food & farming practitioners to learn about, celebrate, and reclaim their ancestral legacy of being in deep relationship with land

  • Leah shares details on the chapter in the book, “White People Uprooting Racism," for whose interest in antiracist work as white allies

  • Soul Fire Farm’s relationship with intentional community Wildseed and a POC/Indigenous-led land trust is reclaiming spaces in alignment with shared values

Resources:

Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement by Dr. Monica White

The Color of Food by Natasha Bowens

Collective Courage A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice by Jessica Gordon Nembhard

The Movable School Goes to the Negro farmer by Thomas Monroe Campbell

Ed Whitfield: Racial Justice Meets Non-Extractive Financing [Ep. 78]

Being Human by Climbing Poetree

I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I'll Get It Myself) by James Brown

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

Diana Leafe Christian: Finding Community & Creating a Life Together [Ep. 136]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Diana's mission is to help intentional communities get started successfully, function effectively, and achieve their goals. She has learned what works well from founders and long-time members of more than 170 communities worldwide — ecovillages, cohousing neighborhoods, housing co-ops, shared group households, income-sharing communes, and more. She is author of Creating a Life Together, (2006), (now translated into six languages) and Finding Community (2007) See this 1-minute video highly recommending her work.

Diana teaches  workshopsoffers consultations, and presents keynote addresses and breakout workshops for conferences internationally. In 2017 she received the Fellowship for Intentional Community's Kozeny Communitarian Award, a lifetime acheivement award for her contributions to the US communities movement.

She teaches workshops on Starting a Successful Ecovillage or Intentional Community, and on Sociocracy (also called Dynamic Governance), to intentional communities and member-led groups. She is an Associate Member of The Sociocracy Consulting Group (TSCG) and was formerly a Sociocracy trainer for the board of GEN International.  Her third book will be about how groups can use Sociocracy for better meetings, to get more done, and to feel more connected. She also teaches the N St. Consensus Method for groups that would like to use consensus.

Diana is a certified as a trainer for Gaia Education's Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) course, and a Board Member of GEN-US (Global Ecovillage Network-US) and GENNA (GEN-North America). She wrote chapters for the Gaia Education/EDE books Beyond You and Me and Gaian Economics, and the GEN book Ecovillage: 1001 Ways to Heal the Planet. She has written articles for Communities magazine, GEN Newsletter, the Communities Directory, GEN NewsletterPermaculture Activist, and Permaculture magazines. She was editor of Communities magazine (1994-2007) and publisher of Ecovillages newsletter (2010-2012). She is a member of Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina.

Email Diana at diana~at~ic.org


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Some highlights from Kevin Bayuk’s conversation with Diana Leafe Christian include:

  • An overview of the various common forms of intentional communities

  • An introduction to Sociocracy and other governance & decision-making systems

  • How to integrate critically important feedback loops for group processes

  • Diana’s 8 crucial structures that groups, whether intentional communities or businesses, should put in place immediately to prevent structural conflict

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Kevin Bayuk, Co-founder and Partner at LIFT Economy, works at the intersection of ecology and economy where permaculture design meets next economy organizations intent on meeting human needs while enhancing the conditions conducive to all life. He is the Senior Financial Fellow at Project Drawdown and a founding partner of the Urban Permaculture Institute.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinbayuk or email him kevin@lifteconomy.com.

Edgar Villanueva: Decolonizing Wealth [Ep. 135]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Edgar Villanueva is a nationally-recognized expert on social justice philanthropy. Edgar currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Native Americans in Philanthropy and is a Board Member of the Andrus Family Fund, a national foundation that works to improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.

Edgar is an instructor with The Grantmaking School at the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University and currently serves as Vice President of Programs and Advocacy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education where he oversees grant investment and capacity building supports for education justice campaigns across the United States. Edgar previously held leadership roles at Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in North Carolina and at the Marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle.

Edgar is the author of Decolonizing Wealth, which offers hopeful and compelling alternatives to the dynamics of colonization in the philanthropic and social finance sectors. Edgar holds two degrees from the Gillings Global School of Public Health at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Edgar is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Edgar Villanueva include:

  • Edgar’s path, as a Native American, to the largely white space of philanthropy

  • What it means to “Decolonize Wealth”

  • The Seven Steps to Healing that funders can use to better serve the needs of Native/Indigenous people, people of color, and other marginalized communities to close the racial wealth gap

  • How Edgar’s message has been received in the philanthropic and financial services industries

  • The relationship between white supremacy and colonialism

  • What listeners can do to embody the message of decolonizing wealth in their everyday lives

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Carol Fulp: Success Through Diversity [Ep. 134]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Carol Fulp is President and CEO of The Partnership, Inc., New England’s premier organization dedicated to enhancing the competitiveness of the region by attracting, developing, retaining and convening multicultural professionals. During its 31 year history, The Partnership has collaborated with 300 corporations who have sponsored more than 4,000 multicultural executives and professionals in the organization’s innovative leadership development programming. She is also the author of Success Through Diversity: Why The Most Inclusive Companies Will Win praised by Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

Prior to The Partnership, Carol was Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Brand Management for John Hancock Financial. Previously, Carol was the Director of Community Programming and Human Resources for WCVB, the ABC-TV Boston affiliate. She also served as the Corporate Employee Relations Manager for the Gillette Company.

Given her leadership in business and public service, former President Obama appointed Carol as a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Carol Fulp include:

  • Carol’s experience marching on Washington, D.C. during the civil right movement

  • How President Obama chose Carol to be the United States’s representative to the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations

  • Her experiences and learnings as President and CEO of The Partnership, Inc., in Boston

  • Carol’s newly released book: “Success Through Diversity: Why the Most Inclusive Companies Will Win”

  • Why companies should not silo diversity into a narrow category, but should touch every aspect of a company’s operations

  • Why middle managers are incredibly important to engage in any diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts

  • And much more.

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Laurie Lane-Zucker: Expanding the Impact Ecosystem [Ep. 133]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Laurie Lane-Zucker is Founder and CEO of Impact Entrepreneur, LLC, a for-benefit enterprise that includes the Impact Entrepreneur Center for Social and Environmental Innovation; the Impact Entrepreneur Network, a 19,600 member global network of entrepreneurs, investors and scholars; and a consulting company that works with blended value companies, impact investors and academic institutions.

For nearly 30 years, Laurie has been a “pioneer” (Forbes) and recognized leader in sustainability, social enterprise and impact investing. Laurie was the founding Executive Director of the international environmental organization, Orion, as well as the founder of a global sustainability think-tank, Triad Institute, and a "Founding” B Corporation, Hotfrog, which was the first company to complete a private equity transaction on an impact investing exchange.

Laurie is the bestselling and award-winning publisher and editor of books and magazines on sustainability and social impact, and the author of numerous articles on entrepreneurship and impact investing. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the University of Vermont's Sustainable Innovation MBA program. He did his undergraduate studies at Middlebury College and the University of Edinburgh, and his graduate work at Columbia University and the Bread Loaf School of English.

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Here are some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s conversation with Laurie Lane-Zucker:

  • Laurie’s background and how he first got interested in social entrepreneurship

  • His varied interests in the impact ecosystem, including: media, environment, arts, social justice, place-based education, intellectual and journalistic freedom, entrepreneurship, social ventures, impact investing, and wisdom.

  • How he met the founders of B Lab and certified his company as a founding B Corporation

  • Why Laurie is focusing on funding, accelerating, and expanding the impact ecosystem

  • His recent report with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors entitled “Philanthropy Transforming Finance: Building an Impact Economy.”

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

White People: Let's Talk About White Supremacy

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By Ryan Honeyman, Partner at LIFT Economy

** A quick disclaimer before you read this article. Let me be clear that I do not know the right answers to any of this. There are anti-racist activists in the trenches, much more qualified than I am, that you should listen to first. These individuals are the ones who are constantly risking their lives and reputations to fight white supremacy. I am new to this space and do not have a track record of actually doing anything. Sure, I've read some books and am collaborating with people of color, but I haven't helped organize marches, organize sit-ins in the halls of Congress, or stood on the front lines and faced the threat of actual police violence.

** Debby Irving, a white anti-racist with much more credibility than I have, said: "My waking-up process has been largely due to the fact that for 400 years people of color have risked lives, jobs, and reputations in an effort to convey the experience of racism." I agree completely. So, this is my way of saying to readers to not trust anything I say until my actions reflect my words. I've got more work to do than writing a blog post saying "look at me! I'm awake now." **

One question has consumed me recently: “what is the role of a white person in conversations about racial justice (especially a white, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled, upper middle class male who is a U.S. citizen)?”

I used to think that the appropriate role for a white male of my status and privilege was to stay out of conversations about race. I believed that the best thing I could do was to keep my mouth shut and make space for others.

However, after learning from anti-racist leaders like Dr. Tiffany Jana, Debby Irving, Robin DiAngelo, Chris Crass, Ijeoma Oluo, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Nwamaka Agbo, and more, I have realized that white people staying out of conversations about race is not the right answer. It should not be the burden of people of color to educate white people about systemic racism, equity, privilege, and structural oppression.

So, my fellow white people, let’s talk about white supremacy--a system that we (i.e., the people reading this article) did not invent, but that we inherited and continue to benefit from, regardless of whether we believe we are “good,” or “definitely not racist,” or “don’t see skin color,” or “marched in the sixties.”

You may be thinking “Ok, I’m fine talking about diversity and inclusion. But ‘white supremacy’? That seems unnecessarily provocative and offensive.” If you are thinking this, I completely understand. I would have thought the exact same thing a few years ago. Let me explain.

As a white person (or for any person, for that matter), the term white supremacy is often jarring and cringe-worthy. It can conjure up images of neo-Nazis and Klu Klux Klan members marching down the street with torches—leading to feelings such as shame, defensiveness, or anger.

However, I am not proposing we discuss the bigotry of individuals who identify as white supremacists. I want to discuss the system or organizing principle of white supremacy in which white domination of society is seen as the natural order of things.

For white people like me, it is important to discuss this system because it goes largely unnoticed and operates by default in the background of our daily lives.

“Umm,” you may be wondering, “how is this possibly related to me? I don’t see the connection.” It is related because many of the structural systems that we participate in, such as the economy at large, are based upon—and tightly intertwined with—the legacy of white supremacy.

I use the term white supremacy specifically because there is a lot of confusion around the term racism. White supremacy makes it clear as to who runs the system, who controls the system, who it benefits, and who it exploits.
— Sharon Martinas, Anti-Racist Activist

How White Supremacy is Intertwined with Our Economy

Consider the GI Bill.

The GI Bill was enacted after World War II to provide support for returning veterans. Many white people I know love the GI Bill. Both my grandfather on my mom’s side and my grandfather on my dad’s side directly benefited from the free college and low-interest home loans provided to veterans.

In fact, the benefits were so helpful that the GI Bill almost single-handedly moved both sides of my family from lower middle class to upper middle class economic status in one generation.

What about returning African-American veterans? Did they benefit as well?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the GI Bill’s benefits were not realized across racial lines. Only a very small percentage of returning African-American GIs were able to take advantage of the free education or housing benefits due to systematic discrimination.

There were not enough historically black colleges to educate all of the returning veterans, and many other colleges were only willing to accept a small, token amount of African-American applicants.

In addition, redlining was a formal, legal, and intentionally designed system that was written into the GI Bill to block subsidized home loans to African-Americans and other marginalized groups.

My family accumulated generational wealth that we still benefit from today. Does my family have a certain level of socio-economic status because we “worked harder” than other families? Nope. I can point directly to the racist policies and practices that forever altered my family’s path and continues to provide a level of comfort, status, and privilege that my family enjoys.

See African Americans and the GI Bill and Slavery And American Capitalism for just a few examples of how white supremacy continues to affect our everyday lives.

The Unspoken Values and Norms of White Supremacy

White supremacy implies a number of unspoken norms. It describes the social order in which one kind of person is superior: a white, Anglo, cisgender, christian, heterosexual, wealth-oriented, non-disabled, male.

People who do not fit neatly into each of these categories and want access to power and privilege are often forced to Anglicize their names, hide their sexuality, play up their wealth, act “male,” and hide their religion.

The culture of white supremacy also elevates a certain attitude and approach to life.

Many of the values I learned and internalized growing up as a young white male included things like, “Work hard. Keep your nose to the grindstone. Be productive. If you see a problem, fix it. You can do anything you want if you just try hard enough. Everyone gets a fair shot. You are responsible for your own success in life. Suck it up and don’t complain. Always be polite. Avoid conflict. Don’t rock the boat. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

For years I assumed that the values imparted to me by my family were somehow unique to us. It shocked me to realize that these messages are part of a cultural lineage and belief system that is handed down by white families to their children over many generations.

These internalized values play out in subtle and pernicious ways. For example, if a white child sees a poor black child at school, they might think, “well, maybe their family just needs to work harder,” or “we should help those poor people who obviously haven’t figured it out and need the assistance of people like me.”

Based on the narrative that everyone gets a fair chance and working hard is the answer, the white child may assume the black child’s family is solely responsible for the circumstances in which they find themselves.

In addition, white children are taught to avoid conflict. “I’m confused why this black child is poor,” the white child might think, “but I’m not going to ask about it. It seems like a sensitive topic. It must just be the way things are.”

Nothing in the previous example was consciously or purposefully racist on the part of the white child. If anything, the white child thought they could be helpful. The cause of the damaging conclusions is the unexamined belief system—the default order of things—that has been passed down to white people and perpetuates institutional bias.

What Can We (White People) Do About It?

I have learned that when white people (like me) first get interested in racial justice, we tend to want to “do” something about it immediately. We want to create a toolkit, or a 5 step action plan, or conduct an 80/20 analysis to determine critical next steps.

Anti-racist activists have told me to be wary of these impulses, because “being productive” and trying to “solve” white supremacy is part of the problem itself. When we seek to solve problems quickly, we tend to skip over the pain, shame, and guilt we feel, and unintentionally recreate the old patterns of dominance and oppression we are trying to dismantle.

I can only speak about what has been helpful for me in my own process. Taking these with a large grain of salt, here are six things you can “do” to take the next step:

1. Learn, Learn, Learn.

Here are several resources that were shared with me, and that I have found to be particularly helpful in my thinking about white supremacy:

Events:

Articles:

Books:

Next Economy Now Podcasts:

2. Educate Other White People About White Supremacy.

Anti-racist educators have helped me understand that most white people have no idea that there is a system of white supremacy that is distinct from the KKK or Nazis. This is very problematic. It means that we think it only applies to “those bad people” and not us.

For example, as a straight white male, it is the privilege of people like me to NOT think about white supremacy. We can mostly ignore it, or expect people of color (or other historically marginalized groups) to figure things out for themselves, or indefinitely kick the conversation down the road without any apparent negative repercussions.

It should not be the burden of people of color, women, or other marginalized groups to educate folks with privilege about institutional racism, institutional sexism, and other forms of systemic bias.

"I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color. I define a white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the ‘choir,’ or already ‘gets it.’

“White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual anti-racist practice.

“White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so.”

― Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

3. Stay Engaged--Even if it is Super Uncomfortable.

One reason privileged people like me avoid this topic is that many of us feel like we don’t know where to start—even if we are interested in addressing systemic bias.

Another reason is that conversations about the abuses caused by white people often bring up feelings of shame, guilt, hopelessness, anger, and sadness.

I have taken solace in the advice I have received from racial justice educators and social justice activists over the last few years. Their comments have generally followed along the lines of:

  • “Yes, you are a privileged white male. However, you did not invent racism, sexism, and other forms institutional oppression. You inherited them.”

  • “It is ok to feel awkward and uncomfortable when talking about white supremacy. Try to stay engaged. If you choose to walk away from an uncomfortable conversation, you are exercising your privilege, because people of color, women, and others cannot walk away from their identity.”

  • “Do not doubt that you will make mistakes and feel embarrassed. Perfection is not the goal. Stay engaged long enough to give yourself a chance to recover from your mistakes, make a breakthrough in understanding, and strengthen your ability to have difficult conversations.”

4. Stop Siloing The Conversation.

There is no such thing as a conversation about business and/or the economy and a separate conversation about race, privilege, and white supremacy. I have learned that they are the same conversation. Siloing white supremacy into something separate is one of the main barriers we face to creating a more equitable society.

5. Seek to Dismantle White Supremacy Instead of “Helping Others.”

Until recently, I had always believed that the answer to many social and environmental problems was to “help” historically marginalized groups bring themselves up to par with white communities. I had never considered that challenging and unraveling the norms, assumptions, and culture of white supremacy itself could be part of the solution. Reframing this problem is difficult and uncomfortable because it shifts the focus to me--where it belongs.

6. Seek to Understand Your Own White Fragility.

Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragilitysays that the most common response to giving feedback to a white person about race is outrage, such as “how dare you suggest that I could have said or done something racist!” DiAngelo says that outrage is often followed by righteous indignation about the manner in which the feedback was given.

From her experience facilitating hundreds of trainings on this topic, she has found that there is apparently an unspoken set of rules for how to give white people feedback on racism, which she calls “The Rules of Engagement.” She has found that the only way to give feedback correctly is not to give it at all. Thus, the first rule is cardinal:

  • Do not give me feedback on my racism under any circumstances. If you break the cardinal rule:

  • Proper tone is crucial – feedback must be given calmly. If there is any emotion in the feedback, the feedback is invalid and does not have to be considered.

  • There must be trust between us. You must trust that I am in no way racist before you can give me feedback on my racism.

  • Our relationship must be issue-free – If there are issues between us, you cannot give me feedback on racism.

  • Feedback must be given immediately, otherwise it will be discounted because it was not given sooner.

  • You must give feedback privately, regardless of whether the incident occurred in front of other people. To give feedback in front of anyone else—even those involved in the situation—is to commit a serious social transgression. The feedback is thus invalid.

  • You must be as indirect as possible. To be direct is to be insensitive and will invalidate the feedback and require repair.

  • As a white person I must feel completely safe during any discussion of race. Giving me any feedback on my racism will cause me to feel unsafe, so you will need to rebuild my trust by never giving me feedback again. Point of clarification: when I say “safe” what I really mean is “comfortable.”

  • Giving me feedback on my racial privilege invalidates the form of oppression that I experience (i.e. classism, sexism, heterosexism). We will then need to focus on how you oppressed me.

  • You must focus on my intentions, which cancel out the impact of my behavior.

  • To suggest my behavior had a racist impact is to have misunderstood me. You will need to allow me to explain until you can acknowledge that it was your misunderstanding.

DiAngelo notes that each of these rules are rooted in white fragility.

In sum, anti-racist leaders have helped me understand why it is critical for me and my fellow whites to more explicitly name white supremacy and examine its negative effects. I am beginning to learn that only by naming it, disrupting it, and dismantling it can we successfully create a world that works for the benefit of all life.

If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out the Dismantling White Supremacy Unconference on June 14–15 in Oakland, California. You can also sign up for the LIFT Economy newsletter to get tips, advice, and free resources about building the Next Economy.