Professional Development Calendar

Event Detail

“Witnessing in Action: Developing and Sustaining White, Anti-Racist Affinity Groups”

Friday, February 3, 2012
10:00 A.M.–3:30 P.M. (registration at 9:30)

Location The Meadowbrook School of Weston , Weston, MA directions

Friday, February 3, 2012, 10:00 A.M.–3:30PM (Registration opens at 9:30A.M.)

“Witnessing in Action: Developing and Sustaining White, Anti-Racist Affinity Groups”


This experiential workshop will support teachers and school administrators interested in promoting anti-racism on campus through the development of white affinity groups. White affinity groups focus on dialogue and support the development of healthy racial identity and effective anti-racist practices, both essential for building relationships across race. This session will begin by reviewing the model of Witnessing Whiteness, a foundational approach to developing white anti-racist identity that involves building knowledge, skills, capacity, and community.  We will then consider, given time constraints and potential resistance from members of a school community, what steps can support the creation of a white affinity group? What happens at a white affinity group? How do white affinity groups and their facilitators stay accountable for their work and collaborate with people of color? How can a white affinity group be sustained? Participants will also explore and gain access to two sets of resources to support white affinity groups: 1) a foundational workshop series based on the Witnessing Whiteness text and 2) a set of workshop agendas created by AWARE-LA that supports sustained dialogue related to the development of a white anti-racist identity and practice.

N.B.: This is NOT the same workshop that Shelly has done for us before.

“After much consideration, I now stand convinced that the future of our country depends on white educators being able to turn within, into the depths of our being, focus on our whiteness for a time, and perceive its effects on our deepest psyche, our teaching practices, and our collaborative relationships. We must face our deepest shadow, our country’s historical legacy of white supremacy. While uncomfortable to admit, its memory lies within us, embedded. "
– Shelly Tochluk

Workshop Leaders: Shelly Tochluk and Jason David


Shelly Tochluk is the author of Witnessing Whiteness: First Steps Toward an Antiracist Practice and Culture, a book about why race remains an essential issue, how race affects people's daily lives and interactions, and practical steps we can take to serve racial justice. Shelly's experiences with UCLA's NCAA Division-1 All-American Track and Field 4X400 meter relay team and her elementary and middle school, inner city teaching experiences shaped her personal dedication to confront issues of race. An educator, with a background in psychology, Shelly Tochluk spent ten years as a researcher, counselor, and teacher in California's public schools. She received her Ph.D. in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2005 where she investigated how white racial identity impacts friendship relationships. She now trains teachers to work with Los Angeles' diverse school population as Chair of the Education Department at Mount St. Mary's College. Shelly also currently serves on the leadership team of AWARE-LA (Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere-Los Angeles), a community of white anti-racists that has reached hundreds of people in the Southern California area and draws approximately 30 people every month to Saturday dialogues. With AWARE-LA's workshop planning group, she co-created a workshop series that leads white people into a deeper understanding of their personal relationship to race, white privilege, and systemic racism.


For more information and a wide spectrum of excellent (free) materials go to Shelly's website.


Jason David has a B.A. from USC and is a co-founder of the Alliance for White Anti-Racists Everywhere - Los Angeles (AWARE-LA), a white anti-racist organization that provides resources and community space for consciousness-raising, alliance-building, and movement-building. As a facilitator of monthly dialogues through AWARE-LA, he has helped to carefully construct and navigate discussions on numerous topics related to race and whiteness. He is also a high school Humanities teacher at Wildwood School in Los Angeles.


If you don't already  have Shelly's book, I encourage you to get it. It's an excellent resource. Available on Amazon.


With refreshing honesty and forthrightness, Shelly Tochluk's Witnessing Whiteness invites readers—especially those of us who are white—to tread into the difficult terrain of confronting racism. Using rich storytelling and frank self-reflection, she skillfully engages readers in acknowledging, examining, and then taking on responsibility for racism and the work needed to dismantle it. This powerful and very readable book leads us through a clear analysis of why and how white people remain ignorant of and afraid to acknowledge racism, to laying out a practical framework for action. This book is an indispensable resource for white people who sense that racism is wrong, but don't know where to start. (Christine Sleeter )

Witnessing Whiteness
is a rare and precious gem in the national literature on race and privilege. Shelly Tochluk provides readers of this comprehensive volume with a well-crafted blend of personal and analytical material, which will prove helpful for anyone lucky enough to read it. Unraveling the knot of privilege and unawareness that so often binds white Americans and weakens the struggle for racial justice is a crucial task; and Witnessing Whiteness is a brilliantly honed tool for helping with that unraveling process. (Wise, Tim )