For over 30 years, Tema Okun has devoted her life to
dismantling racism and oppression of all forms. In this episode, Tema discusses
her own evolution as an anti-racist white person and some of the hard-earned
lessons she’s learned along the way. As she mentions in the episode, racism is
not something that can go away through a half day workshop, it is a long and
winding road of facing into oneself and the systems and structures in the air
that we breathe. Doing this work will inevitably activate guilt and shame, feelings
we are all socialized to avoid. But the cost of not facing into these feelings
is too great. She says, “The cost of racism to all of humanity is our ability
to be fully in community with one another.” The most radical thing we can do is
understand when we feel it; to DEEP DIVE into it and recognize below that there
is love.

White dominant culture has such deep levels of denial and is
behind disconnection from ourselves and other people. White dominant culture hinders
authentic connection between people by placing a premium on being right, on
pretending we are ok, on niceness, and reinforcing the good/bad binary. Doing
the work of anti-racism requires a lot of practice in being in a state of not
knowing and that can be uncomfortable for many of us. White dominant culture
teaches that you if you make a mistake, you are a mistake but we don’t have to
buy into that. We are ALL harmed by injustice, white people, too. Let’s create
something new by focusing on what we want and not just fighting against
something we don’t want. Join us for this important conversation!

Show Highlights:

  • How does my racial indoctrination get in the way
    of how I am in relationship to myself and others?
  • Why “allies” is no longer the right term.
  • Having the best of intentions but still hurting
  • The danger of self-righteousness, of believing “I’m
    not like that…”
  • How shame is keeping racism going
  • The gift of people telling you an uncomfortable
    truth vs. writing you off
  • The gift to ourselves of confronting our own
  • Who is benefiting from racism?
  • The difference between those who should know
    better and those who have no reason to know better
  • We are all in it together.
  • The problem with the good/bad binary
  • The role of the sense of belonging
  • How do we work through fear and instead show up
    in a way that is deeply loving
  • The problem with needing to be right
  • The inevitability of hurting one another but being
    in relationship means we also show up in constructive relationship and heal one
    another, too.
  • Revisions Tema is currently working on to her White
    Supremacy Culture article
  • Tema’s take on the most common white dominant
    culture norms that show up at the Skid Row School
  • Trying to fix it quickly only adds to the
    problem. Let us slow down to go faster.


Teaching for Equity Fellows Program


Episode Transcript:

Video Transcript_ EP 18_ Tema Okun “Facing Into Your Own Racism with Courage and Love