How White Therapists Perpetuate Racism (Even When We Try Not To)

I created this video one afternoon to get down some of my thoughts about a group I've been considering forming for therapists to address racism (our own, and structurally) and whiteness (our own, and structurally).  I think it is necessary that therapists explore what it really means to be practicing a craft that is a historically white/European modality - specifically, psychodynamic and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. We studied in white space, we trained in white space, our exams were epitomes of white spaces- and now, as licensed therapists, there are subtle and obvious ways we practice our indoctrination, within a greater system of whiteness. Now, after having the chance to watch this video, I have become aware of the racism inherent in being white and speaking about racism, and the several "slips" I have made in this video that ultimately do the opposite of what I was attempting. This brings several questions and paradoxes to mind:

1. To form a group like this where therapists speak about racism, shame, guilt, and ways we participate in and support whiteness and white-space thinking as superior, is by its very nature reifying whiteness and solidifying its place in our clinical field.
2. For white people to truly unpack whiteness, it must be addressed – but not at the expense of or in priority over voices, lives, and experiences of people of color.
3. What would a group like this be attempting to do if it where for white clinicians specifically to unpack whiteness? How would the objectives change if it were a group specifically for clinicians of color to amplify their own voices, absent of white voices? Would a group with white clinicians, clinicians of color, and indigenous clinicians together be able to amplify voices of color and de-center white voices? If so- 
4. How could a group like this be facilitated by me, a white (mostly) cis woman without centering and amplifying whiteness? It seems clear to me that a group for clinicians of color and a multiracial group of clinicians would be better served by a therapist of color, whereas a group for white therapists could be served by both a white therapist and a therapist of color.

As you can see, these are complex questions that could have simple answers, depending on your perspective. For me, I do not take them lightly. I recognize that every time I speak or write on racism and white supremacy, I inevitably create a repetition of racist trauma, where white voices (mine) are centered. I can hear it in the way I talk, and in the way I share my thoughts when writing. 

However, that does not mean a group like the one I am considering should not be designed. It will have to be done carefully, purposefully, and with ongoing input from clinicians from all backgrounds. Because, as I see it, even though this kind of group, and I, cannot escape amplifying whiteness, perhaps whiteness as a concept and structure, and internalized object and false ego must be amplified in a particular and specific way in order for white people to recognize it enough to do the internal work to diminish its (and our) power. If I were to facilitate a group specifically for white therapists to unpack whiteness, it would be in the service of going inwards, looking at things we would rather not see about ourselves, and having the courage to make those visible, and change them in a public and personal way.

Have a look at the video and send me an email with your thoughts. I'm curious and open to conversation that furthers the work of unpacking unconscious material, including racism and misogyny. 

(Following is the original text that accompanied this video.)

Are you a therapist who wants to unpack your racism and explore whiteness as it shows up clinically, personally, professionally, and systemically? This newly-forming group aims to facilitate a discussion and awakening process for therapists willing to approach shame, doubt, and guilt; to increase awareness of our impact as professionals on our patients, and our personal impact on people of color. Readings, discussion, clinical material, and some process will be included. Marginalized voices will be amplified in this space and group members will learn to listen to themselves, each other, and marginalized people in new ways. Please email me for more information; the seeds are just beginning to sprout from this intensive endeavor.

As the facilitator of this group, you probably want to know a little more about me. I'm a licensed MFT, and a journeyer on this long and difficult road of accepting my racism, unpacking its conscious and unconscious ties in my childhood and current-day actions and approaches, and taking new actions in all facets of my life in the service of change and transformation. I have written articles, spoken on podcasts, and taken and taught courses in learning about whiteness and unlearning racism. I am learning to leave perfection at the door in favor of the sweat of doing the work, and if you're a therapist who wants some facilitation on this journey, I hope you'll join me in this lifelong endeavor.