How might we celebrate culture?
Celebrating our cultures can support us to discover antidotes to white supremacy culture, to embrace our differences, and honor the ties that bind all of us in our humanity.
“There’s been a culture built around segregation and assimilation; but there has not been a sustainable culture built around anti-racism. Not yet. How do we build a culture in which white people name their children in the tradition of anti-racist heroes? What are the stories of that culture? What are the rules of admonishment and rules of acceptance? What does the elderhood process look like in an anti-racist culture? How do we teach our white children about race in a way that is open and honest but doesn’t center them as the standard?”
Resmaa Menakem, in conversation with Kristin Moe
Sample Culture Share Agenda
As you gather with your team or group, the agenda below can serve as a template that you are encouraged to refine and adapt to your needs. 1. Check-in: Pre-work: Bring a delicious snack reflecting your culture to the meeting. In the meeting: Take 60 seconds to center yourself for the exercise. Focus on your breath. Take 60 seconds to look around the room and observe the space around you. Take 60 seconds to listen. What do you hear in your space? In the space beyond? Take 60 seconds to feel. Touch the treat you brought with you or other objects in the room. What you do feel. What do you notice? Take 60 seconds to smell. Observe the smells that are present in the room. What do they remind you of? Smell the treat. What feelings does it evoke? Take 60 seconds to taste. Eat the snack you brought with you and appreciate the taste. 2. Culture Share storytelling circle We recommend putting people in groups of three. Each person gets 3 minutes to respond to the first question, then rotate people into new groups of three for the second question. Again, each person gets 3 minutes to respond. Repeat for the third question. a. What makes you proud to be of your culture? Has this changed over time/ generations? b. What do our cultures teach us about reclaiming our humanity? Common connections? c. What brings you joy? 3. Affinity Groups Organize folks into racial affinity spaces. To the extent possible, allow folks to self-identify. Acknowledge that race is a construct and no category can describe the complexity of each of our identities. Yet, at the same time, we can find cultural power in solidarity with people who share our racial identity. Depending on the race of the group, the facilitator should identify an activity to engage with. One option for any race is the “Weaving a World Without Violence” prompt in this resource (which includes many other good options too!). White affinity groups could consider reading this blog post and reflecting on how white supremacy culture characteristics show up for you, and what behaviors you might practice to shift your workplace away from dominant culture. After groups meet, take some time for cross-group sharing and close the meeting.
Additional resources for sharing culture
Culture is the life support system of a community. If a community’s culture is respected and nurtured, the community’s power will grow. (PISAB)
Indigeneity is a key concept to ground in when we honor culture in the United States.
- Brutal Violence in Border Towns Linked to Colonization
- Native Liberation: The Way Forward
- Culture of Conquest and Cult of the Covenant, chapters of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States
- Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
- The State of Native American Genocide, Colonization & Resistance
- Way of the Communities
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Wisdom of Plants Video overview
- All My Relations podcast
- Jamestown: Utopia for Whom podcast episode
- A Brief Overview of the American Indian Movement
- Frontera! Revolt and Rebellion on the Río Grande PUTTING IT IN PRACTICE
- Decolonial Atlas
- Decolonizing Antiracism
- Native Land
Dominant culture is important to understand as we seek to transform it
- AORTA's anti-black bias packet
- The Invention of the White Race
- White Reign: Deploying Whiteness in America
- The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States
- White by Law: the Legal Construction of Race
- The History of White People
- White Culture worksheet
- Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity
- Histories of Whiteness bibliography PUTTING IT IN PRACTICE
- White Supremacy Culture
- Checking In With Our Humanity
- Pushing Back Against Habits of White Supremacy Culture During a Crisis
- Continuum on Becoming a Multicultural Institution
- Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice
- Coalition of Communities of Color’s Model for a Culturally Responsive Organization
Cultural Strategy is one approach to shaping culture.