Public Witness

March 25, 2021

Allison Tanner

March 25, 2021

In February, I began a four-month intensive program entitled Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizer Training Program for white social justice activists. This is a program for white people who want to take seriously the work of be-coming “accountable, principled anti-racist organizers building multiracial movements for justice.” I applied for this program knowing it would equip me to become a better pastor of a multi-racial congregation, a better faith leader in the Sanctuary Movement, and a better ally in the work of seeking justice for Palestinians. More importantly, however, I wanted to learn more about the unique struggles, pitfalls and opportunities of white people who desperately want to challenge white supremacy yet bring with them all the “baggage” of being white in a country that benefits whiteness at the expense of non-whites.

When I applied for the program, I didn’t know who Anne Braden was – a southern white civil rights activist from Louisville, Kentucky (1924-2006). Born and raised with the privileges of whiteness in the Jim Crow south, she sought freedom from the prison of white supremacy and found it working for racial justice as part of a multi-racial movement led by people of color. You can learn more about Anne Braden at the Forum on March 28 at 2 p.m.

This program lets me explore in depth how racial, gendered capitalism has shaped modern-day injustice, as well as what it means to interrupt these inhumane systems. I have uncovered some of the many ways my ancestors have benefited directly and indirectly from white supremacy, and, on occasion, sought to challenge it. I look forward to learning directly from liberation movements that are led by Indigenous leaders, Black leaders and Latinx leaders. As I continue through this program, I hope to share kernels of wisdom that can benefit our ongoing work in being and becoming a multi-racial, anti-racist congregation.

Peace as we journey together,
Pastor Allison

There were always certain advantages that came to me because I was white. There is a corruption that comes with such advantages that cramps the soul. And I think no white people in a society founded on racism ever totally free themselves from this prison…but I always tell whites that they should not sit around feeling guilty about all this. Guilt is a debilitating emotion. The challenge to us as whites is to try to understand what racism is and what it has done, not just to us personally, but to the society we live in, and then to do something about it – about very specific manifestations of it in the here and now.

Anne Braden on the prison of whiteness