'Witnessing Whiteness': Creating a witnessing culture

Shelly Tochluk, author of Witnessing Whiteness, is a scholar and an academic. She has a doctorate and teaches at Mount St. Mary's University in Los Angeles. But she's one of those academics who found her life's work before she conducted her research and wrote her dissertation. Her book is chock full of footnotes and references to other works on race in America. But primarily, she's a teacher and a storyteller. She struggled hard to understand what it means to be white, and she wants to help other whites. She says it's like a fish learning what water is.

The book has a website with free workshop guides, encouragement to form a book group, graduate credit for implementing a workshop, and a description of Tochluk's home community: Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere -- Los Angeles. One of the questions on this page is, "Why do we meet in a white space?"

In short, Tochluk believes whites have to help one another learn who we are and how to take action opposing racism. And we need to support one another in the taking of that action. Among Tochluk's topics in her final chapter, "Creating a Witnessing Culture," are Interconnection, Passion, Obligation, Vigilance, Accountability, Historical Memory, and Reconciliation. She has a vision of how we can do our part to change society and share in the beloved community.


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