White Womanhood is a construct designed to simultaneously limit the freedom of white women while enhancing systems of White Supremacy. As white women, we simultaneously hold social and class power as white people, while suffering under the confines of “womanhood.” In this way we often enact harm while relieving ourselves of responsibility for our actions. We are viewed as objects to be defended (or violated) by our white male protectors. White men’s presumed authority over white women does not keep us safe -- and it certainly does not free us from patriarchy. And our presumed innocence only reinforces it. For centuries, violence has been done in the name of—and physically enacted by—white women.
This Confront White Womanhood workshop we will be interrogating whiteness in fear and safety. We will examine the ways white women’s safety has been a tool for racial violence. Grounded in a historical understanding, from emancipation to the present, of how our safety has been used as a justification for violence and mass incarceration of People of Color, Black men in particular. Working in small groups we discuss the ways we understand safety and fear, and the ways racism and privilege impact both. Through discussion on how our biases show up in the context of safety/fear, we empower attendees to interrupt our behaviors (like calling the police) that would put others in further danger.
We simultaneously honor the violence we as women face, while addressing the ways our whiteness is influenced by racialized fear and the systemic responses that results in violence against People of Color. We believe abolition is possible. That we can find new solutions to our problems. That we can engage with our diverse communities without Police. The session will end with a physical self defense demonstration by the Center for Anti-Violence Education. To help us embody our ability to protect ourselves without the harmful interventions of police and white male saviors.
Light refreshments will be provided.
Heather Marie Scholl is an artist and activist committed to creating experiences of truth that nurture a culture of self examination and transformation. She is invested in connecting systems of power to personal lived experiences, including issues of race, gender, sexuality, and abuse/trauma. She primarily works with hand embroidery. She has spent the last 5 years working on her series Whitework. Whitework examines white women's roles in the establishment and maintenance of white supremacy through whitework embroidery techniques. She co-founded Confront White Womanhood, an anti-racism workshop geared towards white women. Workshops have been written about in Cosmopolitan and Slate. Her fine art has been shown in galleries and museums all over the country, and has been written about on Huffington Post, Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, I-D, and Vice. She holds a BA in Race, Gender and Sexuality and an MFA in Fashion and Knitwear Design.
Kaitlin Noss is an educator and prison abolition activist. She is currently completing her PhD in American Studies and works as the Executive Director of NYU's Prison Education Program. She joined PEP in Spring 2019 after 13 years working at Prescott College, where she taught and helped to establish the Maasai Community Partnership Program for indigenous land rights and the Social Justice and Community Organizing Master’s Program. The latter trains students in critical theory and history, while coordinating their work for real-time grassroots campaigns through partnership with movement organizations in Arizona. She welcomes the chance to work with other white women and organize against the ways white supremacy and gender oppression have shored up anti-Black racism, xenophobia, the capitalist carceral state.
Center for Anti-Violence Education develops and implements violence prevention programs so that women, girls, people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Transgender or Gender-Non Conforming, and those who are at risk from discriminatory policies can interrupt and heal from violence. CAE’s approach combines education, physical empowerment, leadership development and activism. We do this to actively create a more just and peaceful world.
*All are welcome at this workshop. We do not believe in creating more white only spaces. However, the workshop is designed for people who are or have been perceived as “white women”. This includes trans people of all genders who may have had this experience, as well as People of Color who may be seen as white. Please reach out with any questions.
**Proceeds will go to Critical Resistance and No New Jails NYC. Please purchase the ticket in line with your financial resources, so that we can sustain all of this important work.