We, the white students who were present at the community processing space on Monday, July 11, would like to respond to recent media coverage representing the opinions only of students who were not in attendance. We hope that this can help clarify how white spaces for racial justice can play a valuable role in community healing and interrupting racism.
As white people who are invested in social justice, we are familiar with the guilt and defensiveness that can arise from conversations about race. While these feelings are a normal part of developing our awareness, sharing them with others is a vulnerable process, and as a result, they can emerge in ways harmful to people of color. We don’t use white processing spaces to feel comfort or generalize our different experiences or identities. However, by offering a supportive, accountable space for white people to discuss our responses to racialized police violence, the Multicultural Student Center provided us with an environment in which we shared the challenges, questions, and feelings that are unique to us as white people. Additionally, we understand that our presence alone may reify trauma for students of color, inside and outside of process spaces, and we support the opportunity for them to have separate spaces for conversation—spaces that are rarely supported by the institution.
We sincerely hope that the MSC will continue to create opportunities for us to gather, so that when we do come together in multicultural conversations, we can show up with a greater level of awareness of how our whiteness shapes our subjective experiences. Creating separate spaces for conversation is not the end goal of racial justice efforts, but it is an important step in working towards collective liberation. We invite other white students to join us.
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