Challenging White and Male Supremacy Curriculum



This Example Curriculum is based on a workshop conducted in Oakland in April 2016 by Paul Kivel, Toby Kramer, Paul Blasenheim, Bill Hogan, Julian Marszalek, David Treleaven and Will Dominie (members of Catalyst Project, Showing Up For Racial Justice and the Bay Area Solidarity Action Team) with support from the White Noise Collective. We used this workshop as a recruiting and training tool to begin organizing a group of white men to challenge white supremacy, patriarchy and the other systems of oppression and violence that threaten our communities and those we love.

We offer it here as a work in progress, and in the hopes that others find it useful in efforts to build multi-racial, multi-gendered movements for collective liberation.  With questions, please contact:

  • Julian Marszalek (contact for Bay Area organizing)
  • Will Dominie (Catalyst Project): 510.529.1122,
  • Paul Kivel (Showing Up for Racial Justice): 510.654.3015,
  • David Treleaven (Generative Somatics): 415.683.8182,
  • Bill Hogan (Design Action Collective)
  • Toby Kramer: (excited to support these convos with other transmasculine folk) 617.905-4431,
  • Paul Blasenheim (Bay Area Solidarity Action Team)
Many thanks to all the people and organizations who helped inspire, create and refine this curriculum, including the White Noise Collective, SOUL, Black Feminist/Women of Color Feminist movements, Challenging Male Supremacy Project NY, Clare Bayard, Aorta Collective, Chris Crass, Marc Swan, Generative Somatics, June Jordan, Grace Lee Boggs, Kimberle Crenshaw, HiIlary Moore and Joshua Kahn Russel.  



  • This curriculum represents one approach to working with white men to better understand and take steps to challenge white supremacy and patriarchy. Please use it recognizing that it is a work in progress and that you will need to adapt it to fit your organizing context.  Each place is different, and has different needs. Call us with questions! Make it your own!
  • Reach out to  people already involved in anti-racist and feminist organizing–especially among mentors, women, trans people and gender nonconforming people of color who you trust politically/are trusted in your organizing context. Let them know this workshop is something you’re thinking about and to see if they would like to give feedback, while also being clear that you totally understand if they don’t have the time, but that you wanted to both let them know you’re working on it and that you’re welcoming feedback.
  • Think about how to use a workshop as part of a larger strategy to help white men take accountable and effective roles in challenging white supremacy and patriarchy.  Workshops and trainings are an organizing tool–but not the end goal. Define clear goals for your workshop. What are you trying to accomplish? You can look to our goals here as an example.  
  • We organize in the San Francisco Bay Area, where  there are a fair amount of resources and training for white people to think about racism. So we chose to spend less time on racism, i.e. white supremacy, and focus more on patriarchy.  This might be different in your context. You can draw more workshop curriculum from Catalyst Project’s’s toolkit here.
  • Recruit people to help you plan and facilitate who are experienced with the concepts you will be presenting. Without tokenizing people, work to make sure your facilitation team represents a range of white male experience–different class backgrounds, different sexualities and genders, different abilities, etc– to help hold the range of experiences that may be in the room.  White masculinity takes many forms. Consider and be explicit about whether you intend to work with trans men, or gender nonconforming people who experience masculine privilege. If you do, some parts of the curriculum may be emotionally challenging for some people–especially the Enforced Gender Roles section which focuses predominantly on the experiences of people gendered as male, or who are read as male. Let folks know that they could sit these parts out, and/or do what they need to do to take care of themselves.
  • Target your outreach to support your goals. Are you trying to shift the dynamics of a particular group? Are you hoping to make a splash, and stir community-wide conversations? Are you trying to start a new group or build up an old one? Make sure you get the right participants in the room to match your goals.  
  • Don’t strive for perfection. We need big and bold actions to take down patriarchy and white supremacy.  Stretch yourself. You will mess something up, but that’s part of the process. Learn from it and keep working.
  • Talking about racism and patriarchy can be extremely emotional. In particular, racial and gender based violence often surface during this type of workshop. White men will often talk about these things while blocking out the emotional content, or if they do connect with it emotionally, try to move on and/or stay in their heads. When these things come up, try to help participants actually feel what they are talking about. Simply naming the emotion and pausing are often effective. Also be prepared to help support people emotionally before, during and after these conversations, and be aware than people may have perpetuated and/or experienced violence.
  • Day of:  plan to take a few minutes together as facilitators to get present in your own bodies, with your own emotions, and with your own commitments to liberation, to open up the workshop more grounded and emotionally present and open.



  • 1:00-1:10 Participants Get Settled 10 min
  • 1:10-1:40 Introduction.  30 min
  • 1:40-2:55 White Supremacy, Patriarchy and Intersectionality 75 min
  • 2:55-3:55 Enforced Gender Roles 60 min
  • 3:55-4:15 Break and Pass the Hat 20 min
  • 4:15-5:00 White Men Supporting Social Justice.   45 min
  • 5:00-5:30 Closing  30 min




  • Getting people talking, and meeting each other
  • Feel safe to share vulnerability with group (gender pronouns, not feeling judged/attacked); and made to feel welcome and excited to be participating in workshop
  • Experiential (speaking from one’s own experience)
  • Why we’re here, what we hope to accomplish
  • Set tone for intentional culture of group/space together

Welcome and Agenda Review

  • Welcome people
  • Orient to space and accessibility–bathrooms, food, etc.
  • Briefly review themes of the agenda

Example Land Acknowledgement

  • We want to acknowledge that we are on stolen Ohlone land, during a period of ongoing colonization and the erasure of native people and culture. We’re deeply thankful for the continued vision offered by Ohlone freedom fighters here on their territory.
  • Facilitators’ Note: An important cultural practice is to acknowledge the Indigenous peoples of the land where you are meeting, at the beginning of the workshop. This acknowledgement pays respect to Indigenous people and the land. Further, it provides an increasing awareness and recognition of Indigenous peoples and cultures, as well as an acknowledgement of colonization and genocide historically and erasure presently.

Facilitator Introductions

Introduce yourselves and why you are here.

  • Facilitator note for introductions: Men are often TERRIFIED about what’s about to happen in this type of workshop. So it’s important to lead with your vision of what the power of this type of work can be. It can also be really useful to be vulnerable about the feelings that have come up for you in doing this work, and/or preparing for this workshop.

Pair and Share

Get into pairs. For five minutes, please talk to each other about:  why are you here today, what do you hope to get out of the workshop?

Community Agreements

  • This room, like many spaces, is full of complexity.
    • Many (or Most or All) are bringing white skin privilege – and that in and of itself is complicated in how we experience it   
    • Some of us have been in spaces like this before, some haven’t,
    • This might feel easy for some people, for most it probably feels a little scary.
    • We have gone to different types and amounts of school,
    • Different bodies with different abilities and needs
    • Different ethnic backgrounds.
    • We have different experiences with masculinity and different class backgrounds
    • And ALL of that will impact how each of us show up in this space and other spaces

We want to create a culture today that honors this complexity and reflects our values.

  • But we all grow up literally steeped in racism.
  • In classism. In violence. In patriarchy and homophobia. In the belief that some bodies are better than others and that some bodies are disposable. In individualism and christian cultural dominance.
  • Whether we like it or not, these things are in the air we breathe. If we’re not intentionally challenging this culture, we tend to replicate it. We end up creating a culture that pull towards universalizing the experiences of:
    • White
    • Straight
    • Men
    • Class privileged
    • Culturally Christian
    • And able-bodied people.
    • And creating a culture of individualism
  • As people with white and male/ masculine privilege, we are especially susceptible to these messages, and tend to replicate them in our personal relationships, with our families, and in our political work.
  • In our work, and today, we have an opportunity to do things differently, intentionally. To envision and practice the kind of world we want to live in and the fullest embodiment of our values. We’ve got to participate thoughtfully, lovingly.
  • We’ve got to create a culture that holds our differences as well as what pulls us together. As facilitators we’re holding this, but ultimately it is all of our work to create the culture of this room. Are you open to trying this?

Propose Agreements

Read each agreement. Make sure people understand each one and can ask questions or clarify.

    • One mic, one conversation
    • Respect me, we, all
    • What’s said here stays here, what’s learned here leaves here
    • Move up, move up
    • Be curious
    • Move toward understanding the difference between intent and impact
    • Expect and accept a lack of closure
    • Speak from own experience
    • Take care of your body in this space, and do what you need to stay present
    • Break down acronyms and academic jargon
    • Trust that this is a lifelong path
    • Invest in ending racism
  • Credit- List of Community Adapted from our friends at the AORTA Collective. See their fabulous resource:

Affirm Agreements

  • Is this list something we can all agree to try to practice during our time together?
    • Can I have your permission to hold our group accountable to these agreements?

Example Framing Part 1

Trump has been on my mind a lot while preparing for this workshop.I’m scared and saddened at how easily it seems Trump is able to use racist and misogynistic rhetoric to whip up support. It seems like there is a hunger for his sort of “politics”. And the base of his support is white men. And there are similar political tendencies all over Europe in the face of ever growing Syrian and Iraqi  refugee crisis.

We’re going to be talking today a lot about race and gender. But it goes beyond these two forms of oppression; we need to be aware of and disrupting all forms of oppression. For example, we also need to be conscious of classism when it comes to talking about racism. The media has a much easier time focusing on racism and white supremacy when it’s perpetrated by working class white people than the kinds of racism only wealthy and powerful people can perpetrate. And I would say this is no accident, mainstream media is often owned or at least subservient to corporate owners.  There’s a way that thinking of “white supremacy” as limited to the kinds of stuff the KKK promotes, actually distracts us from the ways people with much more power, including class privilege, institutionalize white supremacy and patriarchy.

But ultimately, it’s not about Trump, or his supporters, or the corporate elite. We’re here because we care about women, trans and gender-queer folks, poor folks, people of color; that is we care about more than just white men. and folks who do not fit the “white man identity” so often are the ones on the front lines of so many assaults. Abortion clinics under constant threat, and by extension affordable, comprehensive women’s health. Sexual violence occurring at epidemic levels. US empire always expanding its control through trade agreements, drone warfare. Climate change and sea level rise affecting millions, and soon billions of people’s ability to survive across the world — and by far, these people are disproportionately poor and people of color, women and children.

Despite all of these global crises, we’re also in a moment of incredible organizing at the intersection of patriarchy and race. We’ve got super strong and increasingly militant organizing, led by young people of color, queer people, women, trans people. We’ve got organizing that is rejecting traditional models of charismatic male leaders, and replacing it with leaderful models. And these movements have explicitly called on white people to step it up, to help out, to work with other white folks. We have an invitation to help build towards collective liberation.

And this work is so needed right now. White supremacy and patriarchy have both been the achilles heels of social justice movements. Both systems have been used to tear us apart, to to splinter our relationships, to fracture our organizations, to keep us from working together to effectively. Historically, it has been in the moments when we have been most successful in challenging these systems that we have been at our most powerful, when we have made the biggest strides towards collective liberation.

I think many of us are in the room today because we recognize white supremacy and patriarchy as roots to so much of this suffering world wide. And we really want to be taking strategic action undermining them — especially as the people who these systems are intended to benefit. And many of us are actually personally unhappy at how we’ve been conditioned living under white and male supremacy; many of us have suffered physically and mentally at the hands and voices of white men; and probably all of us in the room yearn for our own liberation, to live in a world full of health, and beauty, and love. But to get there, we must really learn how to support the struggles of those most impacted by these systems of oppression. How to effectively leverage our relative privilege within these systems in the service of social justice. How to align our intentions with our impacts. That’s what we plan to get into this afternoon.

Example Framing Part 2

One of the reasons I was excited to be asked to do this workshop is that I’m transgender. And when I started transitioning and being read as a man, I started getting treated really differently in a way that really validated how real and deep misogyny is in our society. And then I started acting differently – I got used to being taken more seriously, given more deference etc. It’s impossible to live under these systems without internalizing the messages we get – so I’m really excited to be here and to be doing this unlearning work with everybody.

As the workshop approached, I heard about the Alex Nieto verdict (no accountability for the cops who murdered him), and I heard that it was 2 white gay men who called the police on him because they felt scared. Not so long ago, white gay men were targets of police violence – and this really struck me as an example of the ways white men, even gay white men, have state power at our fingertips. At the recent Future of Solidarity event put on by Catalyst Project and Showing Up For Racial Justice, Miss Janetta Johnson of TGIJP made a very clear and concrete ask of all of us to never call the police under any circumstances. I was thinking about how being a white man living under white supremacy means that we’ve all learned racism, whether we want to or not, and that in those moments when we are feeling fear or threatened or angry, we do have the power to call on state violence. I wonder – what would it take for us to truly commit to not calling the police – to find other ways of dealing with a situation that we could actually stick to even in those moments when deep learned racism is coming up, or where we’re feeling scared.

So, those moments when feelings come up for us – that’s often where racism plays out. For this workshop, we’ve given everyone a hand out of “feeling words” and some of them are also on the wall. Feeling words like “threatened, angry, isolated, elated, calm, nervous, vulnerable” because as men we are trained to not talk about our feelings, just to act on them without acknowledging – or even feeling- them. Today, we have a chance to practice using some of these words, and grounding in our emotional experience and practicing sharing that with each other.

Specifically, and if this seems like too many feelings/is overwhelming, we invite you to look specifically at fear, anger and courage. Fear has to do with those moments when our racism is likely to come out, and also what we may be afraid of losing if we actually challenge white supremacy. Anger, because its one of the few emotions men are “allowed” to experience under white supremacy, but also we are taught to express anger in often violent and scary ways. Anger doesn’t have to be ‘bad’ – it can also be generative, it can be a source of energy for standing up to injustice and fighting for social change. What are new and different ways we can express and experience anger? And, how can we show up for and hold the anger of women and men of color? What about when it’s directed at us?

And courage, because it takes courage to do this work, to be vulnerable, and it takes courage to stand up and intervene with other white men in a system of white male supremacy.

So, we can practice using these feeling words, but also if you’re stuck you can keep coming back to the themes of fear, anger, and courage.



  • Establish context: get on similar pages around what’s going on, who and how people are impacted, who benefits from white supremacy and patriarchy
  • Establish group understanding of systems of oppression, and definitions
    • Introduction/Framing (2 min)
      • We’re going to take the next 45 minutes to talk about white supremacy, patriarchy and how these systems intersect.  This is just a starting point–it’s impossible to do this justice in such a short amount of time. But we hope to at least lay out some of the basics, so we have a common frame of reference. We’ll be building off the idea and politics of intersectionality, which were developed by women of color feminists.
      • For some of you, you’ve thought about this before. For others it may feel new. In either case, we’d like to challenge you to participate in a way that pushes yourself and others in the room to learn and take risks.  
      • For many men, it is much easier to think about this stuff than to feel it. We will be trying to do both, to flex the muscle of emotional grounding, presence and empathy.
      • This is particularly important because when we are talking about the intersection of white-supremacy and patriarchy, we’re talking about something that, as men, we experience in certain ways but not others.  We can’t just draw on our own lived experience to tell us how these systems impact other people.
      • We’re going to listen to a poem from June Jordan. Can anyone say a little about who June Jordan was? Be prepared to fill in here.
    • Grounding Exercise  (3 min)
      • We’re about to listen to this powerful piece of art. let’s try to really feel into it. As a heads up, there’s some intense content including violence and sexual violence.
      • Take a moment to notice your mood and emotions: relaxed, worried, happy, stressed, sad, etc
      • What’s our purpose together? why did you come today?
      • Now, let’s purposefully shift from thinking to feeling.
      • Orient your attention to your body.
      • Feel your feet on the ground, butt in your seat, back against chair,
      • You may feel tension, relaxation, cold, hot, tingling, numb
      • Just notice these sensations. There’s not need to try to change them.
      • Try to stay with these sensations as we listen to the poem.
    • Listen to June Jordan’s “Poem About My Rights” (5 min)
    • Journal for a few minutes, or if you prefer, find someone near you to talk to about (5)
      • What feelings came up for you?
      • What struck you about the way Jordan talks about white supremacy and patriarchy?
    • Full group (5 min)
      • Who can share something that came up in your journaling or pair?
  • Draw the conversation towards talking about how the different types of oppression/exploitation Jordan talks about overlap in her experience.  For instance about how white supremacy and patriarchy work together and land on her body and choices and mind. And about the struggle for self-determination as women, as a person, and at a broader community level.

Defining White Supremacy, Patriarchy and Intersectionality

  • Now we’re going to take a deeper look at some of the systems of oppression that June Jordan talks about in her poem.
  • First let’s talk about white supremacy that defines so much of our lives and the lives of people all over the world.
  • What do you think of when we say white supremacy?
    • Take people’s thoughts, and try to draw out them out.
      • Here’s how we think about it. Have someone read definition of Racism/White Supremacy:
  • Racism, also referred to as white supremacy, is the pervasive, deep-rooted, and longstanding system of exploitation, control and violence directed at people of color, Native Americans, and immigrants of color, and the benefits and privileges that accrue to white people, particularly to a white male-dominated ruling class.
  • Let’s dive into this a little bit. What does it mean to say it is a system? Take some people’s thoughts.


Many white people think of racism as prejudice, ignorance, or negative stereotypes about people of color and think that therefore the solution to racism is to challenge white people’s misinformation about people of color or other marginalized groups and to convince them to be more tolerant or accepting. Groups working on racial healing, building tolerance, and eliminating prejudice are examples of this kind of approach. But the roots of racism are deeper than this.  While individual white people having more information about racism and becoming more competent is important, it will not address the roots causes. Racism operates on four different levels and it is important to understand each of them and their interconnections.


Interpersonal Racism

When a white person can take their misinformation and stereotypes towards another group and cause harm towards an individual or group they are committing an act of interpersonal racism. This can include harassment, exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, hate or violence.


When we move beyond talking about prejudice and stereotypes in our society we generally focus on acts of interpersonal racism. These are the kinds of acts that we hear about in the media—a hate crime, an act of job or housing discrimination, negative racial comments about people of color, racial profiling or violence by a police officer towards a person of color.


These acts are definitely damaging. But the system of racism is much larger than these personal acts. And racism would not be eliminated by ending these individual acts. If we limit our discussion to these interpersonal acts it seems like racism is limited in its impact to the acts of individual “rotten apples.” All we need to do is punish/censor/screen out these particularly racist individuals and things would be mostly pretty good.  


Any questions or thoughts on this?


Institutional Racism

But racism also operates within the institutions in our society. It is built into the policies, procedures, and everyday practices of the health care system, the education system, the job market, the housing market, the media, and the criminal legal system to name a few. That means that it operates both systematically and without the need for individual racist acts. People can be just following the rules and produce outcomes that benefit white people and harm people of color. This is because the rules are setup to reproduce racism. For example, during most of the history of this country it was illegal for white and Black people to marry across racial lines, eat together in public, travel together, or shop together on an equal basis. Therefore shopkeepers, bus and train conductors, public officials and others weren’t unusually racist to enforce segregation—they were just following the law, acting as law-abiding white citizens.


Similarly a white schoolteacher could be teaching their students equally, addressing the needs of each individual student and helping every single one advance to the next grade level. But if they were teaching in a school or school system where there were no teachers of color, where white students were tracked into higher level courses than Black students, where students of color were disciplined more harshly than white students and/or the curriculum did not reflect the contributions of people of color to our society, then the school would be racially discriminatory despite the efforts of the “color-blind” teacher.


Any questions or thoughts on this?


Structural Racism

The total impact of all of the interpersonal and institutional racism within our society creates a system of structural racism. The racism of different institutions overlap, reinforce, and amplify the different treatment that people of color and Native Americans receive compared to that which white people receive. This creates different life outcomes. For example, people have described the school-to-prison pipeline in which children of color are pushed out of our schools and into the criminal legal system. Racism within the school system, the welfare system, child protective services, the foster care system and at all levels of the criminal legal system interact to produce a system which disproportionately limits the educational opportunities of young people of color and disproportionately disciplines and locks them up.


Any questions or thoughts on this?


(if time allows): What are examples of the web of structural racism—the interplay between different forms of institutional and interpersonal racism? (One example is how lack of affordable health care and access to affordable healthy food options, coupled with higher exposure to toxic chemicals and other forms of pollution, coupled with job discrimination and housing segregation produces greater health problems, shorter life spans, lower wages, and greater levels of poverty for communities of color.)


Cultural Racism

Structural racism is reinforced by the many layers of cultural racism in our society—the systemic and pervasive images, pictures, comments, literature, movies, advertisements, and online media which consistently portray people of color, Native Americans, and immigrants of color as inferior, lazy, dangerous, sexually manipulative, childish, and less smart than white people, while holding up white people in general as capable, honest, hard-working, patriotic, safe—the heroes, leaders, and builders of our country. Cultural racism can be explicit or implicit, subtle or obvious. It is pervasive–internalized in the ways we think and externalized in the ways we act. Every institution produces forms of cultural racism but some, such as the media, educational system, and religion, are particularly active in producing and maintaining a dominant white world view which binds together the entire system of structural racism.


Any questions on these different levels of white supremacy ?


  • Patriarchy
    • Let’s talk a little bit more about patriarchy. What do you think of when we say patriarchy?
    • Take people’s thoughts, and try to draw out them out.
    • Here’s how we think about it. Have someone read definition of Patriarchy:
      • Patriarchy:  An economic, political, cultural and social system of domination of women and transgender and gender nonconforming people that privileges non-transgender men and masculinity. Patriarchy is based on the assumption of male/female gender binary and with strict enforcement of these gender roles. It also relies upon rigidly enforced heterosexuality where male/straight/non-transgender is superior and women/queer/transgender is inferior. Patriarchy shapes and is shaped by white supremacy, capitalism, and the state. Together, they form interlocking systems of oppression.
    • What strikes you about this definition? What does it mean in concrete terms/everyday life?
    • Things to add if they don’t come up:
      • In concrete terms, this means that women, transgender people, and gender nonconforming people have have less political representation and power (think Congress and the Supreme Court), are likely to work in feminized jobs and are likely to be paid less than men, are the ones primarily responsible for housework and childcare, are subject to sexual violence and abuse, often lack control over their reproductive lives, are sexually objectified and degraded in popular culture.

While many people assume that this inequality stems from biological differences, we know that like racism, patriarchy isn’t “natural” but is created and maintained by laws, cultural norms, institutions and economic relationships.

Because patriarchy, racism and classism are all intertwined, the way patriarchy manifests in the lives of poor women, women of color, disabled women, trans women and gender nonconforming people is not the same as it is for people who have some protections based on class, race and other types of privilege, as we see in the poem by June Jordan. We’re going to get a little further into what this means in a second.



  • The Personal is the Political


    • First I want to make a quick note about the layers of racism we talked about above.
    • It is important to note that patriarchy also operates on all these levels.
    • Like we do when thinking about white supremacy, it is easy to focus on the interpersonal or cultural levels, to think about patriarchy as being primarily about how individuals treat one another, rather than about a system.  For instance, it might be a stretch to immediately think of struggles for good wages and working conditions for domestic workers as an anti-patriarchal fight.
    • Its important to keep our eyes and organizing on the institutional and structural levels.  
    • At the same time, one of the strengths of the feminist movements has been to remind us that these different levels are all deeply interrelated. In the 60s for instance, feminists made the slogan “the personal is political” popular.  
    • Can anyone say what they take from this statement?
    • I think there’s a ton to get into here, but want to raise up three things:

1) Historically, violence and control directed towards women’s bodies and lives has been one of the most horrific and effective ways in which men have maintained control. This violence and control has been extremely effective in repressing resistance and shaping what is politically possible. This violence is both intimate and systemic. So we need to challenge both the structural pieces and the intimate spaces in which it occurs simultaneously.

2) Even in politically progressive spaces, those of us with masculine privilege often behave in patriarchal ways. At a minimum we often leave certain types of labor (like dishes or childcare) to women, trans people and gender nonconforming people, making it more difficult for them to be in leadership. And all too often, we bring unchecked privilege, anger, and sometimes violence to our intimate relationships and organizing, resulting in deep trauma and fractured organizations. While we focus on the larger project of taking down the system of patriarchy, we also have a duty and opportunity to practice challenging patriarchy in our intimate relationships, friendships, families and organizations.

3) Its often easier to see patriarchal or racist behavior in other people than ourselves. We tend to have a tough time taking an honest look at ourselves without being defensive or spiraling into guilt. This is something that gets much easier with practice. Consider ways to be self-reflective, and to proactively make spaces to hear and openly consider feedback from others.




  • Intersecting Oppression/Power



White Supremacy and Patriarchy are just two of a number of intertwined and mutually reinforcing institutionalized systems that are based on the exploitation, control, and violence of those less powerful, accruing power, wealth, and various forms of privilege to those who benefit.


  • We use this Power Chart to make the following six points, taking time for a group to question and to discuss each point.



1) Nontarget/target: We describe the difference between the two sides of the chart by noting that the right side consists of “target” groups and the left of “nontarget” groups. On each line, one group has more social, political, and economic power than the other group. This categorization does not mean that “target” groups are intrinsically powerless but that society creates conditions that give them less power than the corresponding groups on the left. If we look at positions of power in the United States—positions controlling wealth, resources, and decisions that affect our lives—we are more likely to see people from groups on the power side of the chart. These people, who run corporations, political parties, universities, the military, think tanks, and foundations, are more likely to make decisions that benefit people like themselves and that exploit people in less powerful groups.


What are the consequences of this power differential? Looking at the chart, we see that members of the target groups are targeted for violence—in the narrowest and widest senses of that term—by members of the corresponding nontarget groups. It is also true that members of nontarget groups are relatively safer than comparable members of the target group (members who share the same class, race, gender, immigrant status, and so forth). Ask the group for examples of what types of violence are done to children by adults. To people of color by white people? To women by men?


  1. The violence is institutionalized—it is an “ism”: Target groups undergo systematic, pervasive, routine, day-to-day degradation, exploitation, and violence, in forms as basic as reduced access to jobs, food, and housing. As members of target groups, we frequently experience this violence as individuals and often experience it at the hands of other individuals, but it has its source in existing institutional inequality. The institutions of family, education, work, business, religion, housing, law, and government in which we are raised sustain this inequality. Inequality is made to look “normal” to those in powerful groups; it can even be made to look normal to those with less power, or it is made invisible or denied. But it is precisely because inequality is institutionalized that it is so thorough. Each inequality represents an “ism,” some of which we have names for—racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, and so forth—and some of which we don’t, such as discrimination against immigrants and transgender people.


  1. There is no reverse “ism”: Because the institutional imbalance favors one direction—nontarget over target—it is inaccurate and destructive to use terms developed by the right wing like “reverse racism,” “reverse sexism,” and so forth. Individuals in the target group can stereotype or have prejudices about people in the nontarget group. They can act aggressively or violently toward them. But the power imbalance nonetheless remains. Members of less powerful groups do not have the social power and command of resources to limit the powerful or to protect themselves from system-wide violence.


  1. Our differences do not cause the power imbalance: This statement cannot be emphasized too strongly: Our differences do not cause the institutional power imbalances. They are used to justify already existing imbalances. People do not earn mistreatment because they are Latino or female or have disabilities. Nothing natural or biological about these differences causes oppression. Rather, the imbalance of power is already there, in existing social relationships, brought about through immediate and long-term struggles to obtain control over the basic resources of human life. At any given moment, the social structure crystallizes ongoing, dynamic processes in which people from particular social groupings attempt to achieve and to maintain power while people from other groups resist. This is the set of conditions we inherit and to which we are exposed as children, learning lies about target groups (and corresponding assumptions about the “normalness” and outright superiority of nontarget groups) often long before we actually meet any of these individuals.


  1. We Live on Both Sides (and Sometimes in the Middle): What do you notice about where you live on this chart? The first thing to see is that each of us has places on both sides. Each of us knows what it is like to be in a position of power and what it is like to have someone wield power over us. Each of us, as a member of a target group (initially, as young people), has experienced mistreatment and learned lies about ourselves. Each of us, as a member of a nontarget group, has learned lies about the target group and about ourselves as nontarget-group members. We have been placed in a position of relative privilege over target-group members, and we have been socially sanctioned to discriminate against them.


You may also notice that it is possible to experience being on both sides of this chart—and being in the middle over a lifetime. For example, all of us have been or are young people, all of us are or will become adults, many of us are or will become elders, and all of us have inhabited such “middle” positions as young adults. I might be able-bodied today, but disabled tomorrow, as disabling injuries or conditions happen all the time. Other groups we are part of may be fixed over a lifetime, at least until this system of power and violence is overturned.


  1. Intersections: We also inhabit multiple different sides of this power chart at any given point, target and nontarget: I can be male and a college graduate, but I can also be living with a disability, the child of immigrants from Puerto Rico or Korea, and gay or bisexual. None of these life experiences  alone constitutes my full identity. And they are not simple or monolithic identities but positions of power or its limits that we live within. Each is defined by its relation to, and dependency upon, the others. The categories are real: They have real-life effects upon us, we define ourselves continually by struggling with and negotiating them, and we cannot simply claim not to be shaped by them. Nor can we simply reside comfortably in any one of them, whether a target or a nontarget, as a full reflection of who we are.


The intersections are more like a system of rivers and streams than of roads. Identities are not well defined or well contained like roads are. They spill out and flow into each other, some carrying more nutrients or debris than others. On the surface the water can look clear, untroubled, or clean, and yet below the surface complex currents and eddies may flow. And rivers receive various kinds of runoff and pollution from the land they flow past and from the streams they run into them. A whole systems approach is necessary to understand identities, the systems of oppressions that produce them, their intersections, and the larger system of power and wealth that they serve.

Note:  The idea of intersectionality comes from Black Feminist/Women of Color Feminist movements, and the term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw.

Take a minute to look at the power chart, paying special attention to the pieces about gender, sexuality and race. For the next 5 minutes,  on a piece of paper, or in your head, note down where you fit into this chart, and how you think this has influenced your life. What have you had or not had access to because of your life experiences and identities? What kind of violence or hardship have you experienced or been spared?

Find a partner, and take 5 minutes to share your thoughts with them.

Wealth Inequality  and the Economic Pyramid  


  • Pull up Racial Wealth Gap Presentation or Posters
  • We understand these power imbalances as being deeply interwoven with capitalism.  We’re going to take a few minutes to look specifically at how racism, patriarchy and capitalism work together.  We are fortunate to be in a historical moment where the Occupy Movement sparked a lot of national conversation and action around wealth inequality.  Wealth, simply defined, is what you have minus what you owe.
      • Introduce global slide [Slide 1]
      • If we look at income inequality worldwide, we see stunning differences, where the wealthiest 1% own more than the rest of the world put together. We live in a world where the top 62 people own half of the world’s wealth. And even the metrics we use to measure wealth fall short: Most people don’t have drinkable water near their homes, lose many family members to preventable diseases, and many don’t have enough to eat.
      • And if we zoom in on the U.S., this is what income inequality looks like. [Slide 2]


  • Take guesses about amount of wealth by part of pyramid.


    • Reveal the real numbers of the overall wealth.  Is this what you thought? Is it surprising? (take a few hands)
    • We don’t have the numbers broken out by gender, but if we did, how do you think they would look?
    • [Slide 3] This slide illustrates the racial wealth gap
          • Here are a few statistics to think about: [Slide 4] The 100 wealthiest people in the U.S. have as many resources as the entire black population of this country.
            • It would take the average Black family 228 years to accrue the same amount of wealth white families have today.
            • A higher percentage of non-poor blacks (9.0%) live in high-poverty neighborhoods than poor whites (7.5%).
    • [Slide 5]: And these gaps are just getting bigger over time.



  • Group Discussion


      • What do you feel seeing this? How did it get this way? How did the rich get so rich? How did the poor get so poor?  How did the racial wealth divide end up like this?
      • You wouldn’t think this pyramid was very stable, with so many people at the bottom with so few resources and so much debt. And its getting worse. Ask: What prevents people on the bottom changing it?


  • Why do white people go along with it ? Especially those at the bottom of the pyramid?


    • How are people of color held at the bottom of the pyramid?  
    • How do you think patriarchy plays into maintaining this system?
    • Points to bring up from above questions if they are not covered:
      • The American Dream. Many people in this country believe in upward mobility. There is a sense that we can work our way up the pyramid, even though there is much less class mobility here than in many other countries around the world.
      • Scarcity mindset – if there are people on the rungs of the ladder below you, there’s a fear of losing what little you have.  
      • Race, gender and other things on the power chart are used to divide us. Those in power use these as fault lines to keep us pitted against one another rather than challenging the overall system.
      • Systems (education, prison, housing, wages, etc) organized around race. Example: redlining, or who who could be in trade unions until recently.  In thinking about housing, up until 150 years ago Black people were not allowed to own property, they were property, then there were things like redlining, predatory lending targeting communities of color.



If it hasn’t come out in the discussion:

  • Our social and economic system keeps people fighting each other for the crumbs without challenging the system that creates this inequity.
  • This system isn’t “natural”  – it was created and is carefully maintained, it can also be dismantled through collective action.
  • There is a need for us to be challenging systems that divide us in order to be able to fight for collective liberation.  
    • White supremacy is a key piece of this.  Anti-racist leadership can help to ensure that visions for liberation are not compromised by divide and control, and can help us to stay focused on long-term social and institutional transformation instead of short term gains at the expense of communities of color.
    • Example:  Movement for Black Lives organizers are bringing a focus on police violence and the specific ways in which white supremacy targets black people.  Platforms address police violence, but also many of the institutions that are at the roots of white supremacy. And these organizers are building with other groups like the young undocumented dreamers, to make connections and ensure that divide and control will not work to split young black and latino movements. At the same time thousands of people with white-skin privilege are answering the call to fight for black lives and are taking steps to talk to people in their own lives about racism, and join campaigns to fundamentally shift the institutions that hold up white supremacy.





  • Dive deep into emotions
  • Explore our personal stake in ending white and male supremacy
  • This section should be a ‘hook’, people place themselves within  these systems of oppression
  • Make it personal but not get stuck in a “shame” or “guilty” place



  • We internalize this social conditioning
  • The benefits and costs of white supremacy and patriarchy are not evenly distributed among white men, class and ability are major factors (among others)



People in more powerful groups enjoy a range of specific benefits which they receive from society whether or not they want or deserve them. We are going to do an exercise with you to look more deeply at the unearned benefits that white men are awarded in our society simply for being white men.


We will read a series of statement and if the statement applies to you then please stand if you are able. If unable to stand, raise your hand or otherwise indicate that the statement applies to you.


Decide for yourself if the statement applies to you and if you don’t know, ask yourself why you might not know.


We’ll do the exercise in silence so we can pay attention to the feelings that come up during the exercise. We’ll have a chance to process those feelings after the exercise.


Occasionally we’ll pause and ask you to notice the feelings you have, and to look around and notice who is standing with you.


White Men’s Benefits Exercise (30 Mins)

Exercise Here

White Men’s Costs Exercise (30 Mins)

Exercise Here

BREAK (10 Mins)

Consider making a pitch, and passing a hat to cover workshop expenses and also potentially to support local racial and gender justice organizing.





  • Getting clarity around how white men can and ought to be supporting organizing efforts led by folks on the frontlines
  • Start thinking about what accountability looks like
  • Get into personal vs. direct service and movement building work — how they can interact, inform each other, how both are important, etc
  • Generate ideas/examples on how white men can embody feminist leadership (individually and collectively)
  • How can white men be allies to men of color


From Socialization to White Men’s Leadership [5-8 MINS]

    • We know our coerced socialization harms women, people of color, the planet and ourselves.  We have to act against white supremacy and patriarchy for our own liberation and in support of others.  If we have a desire to change the status quo, how do we get from here to where we want to be?
    • Define Accountability (pre-written butcher paper behind us). Accountability is about the impacts of our actions, not about our intentions.  Accountability is what takes us from misguided intentions to strategic impacts. It is about how we follow leadership of women, queer people and men and women of color committed to politic of collective liberation. Process by which individuals and collectives take various forms of action as part of social movements and become answerable to  leadership from those at the sharp edges of patriarchy and white supremacy.
      • Butcher Paper:
          • Taking leadership from most impacted communities
          • Following through on what you’ve committed to doing
          • Individuals and groups answerable to their decisions and actions
          • Not simply “doing what you’re told”
          • Thinking about what you have to offer to support movement building
          • Being transparent and honest; learning from mistakes
          • Not a fixed concept; a cyclical process of reflection and action


Credit: Adapted from HiIlary Moore and Joshua Kahn Russel’s Organizing Cools the Planet


    • Ask for thoughts, questions or clarifications on this definition.


  • Facilitators share 2 examples of what white men’s feminist, anti-racist leadership has looked like (10 mins)
    • These could be organizational or personal experiences.
    • Don’t share examples of “perfect” organizing. Share messy examples. Pull out both things you did well, and also the places that got really complicated, the things that you could have done better. Model being vulnerable about making mistakes and learning from them, but also about moving on and not getting trapped in cycles of guilt. Highlight a focus on the IMPACT. What change are we making in the world?
  • Whole Group Brainstorm – Group discussion about what white men’s leadership means to us and what it might look like. (10 mins) Please think about examples at the interpersonal, community and organizational level.
    • Internal facilitation notes
      • Help the group recenter white supremacy or patriarchy in the event that we focus disproportionately on one or the other. Help them hold both concepts together.
      • One facilitator keep stack (call on people, prioritizing those we haven’t heard from). Other takes notes.
      • Be prepared with discussion questions to move the conversation if things get silent or if folks are not stepping up
    • Discussion Questions:
      • What are roles white men can/should be taking on in support of social justice?
      • What are qualities we need to be practicing to support other people’s leadership?
      • How can we be bringing more white men into movement spaces in accountable ways?
      • How can we intervene in racist misogynistic behavior?
      • How can we, ourselves be practicing accountability in all aspects of our lives?  This includes our interpersonal relationships, families, friendships and organizing works. How can we be inviting accountability from our communities? (take a bit with this question)
      • If the conversation feels too centered around sexism: how can we be allies to men of color? What are strategic actions can we take to challenge white supremacy?
      • What sort of support do we need (from white men), individually, to be accountable leaders?


  • Conclusion (5 Min)
    • White men’s leadership can look like a multitude of examples and practices. Each of us brings unique passions, ideas, skills to the table and the goal is to find the right role for us in the movement.  Our leadership can look like: relationship building and leadership development  (one-on-one relationship building, respect and forming trust); movement building work (organizing, direct actions, coalitions), service provision (childcare, food, transportation); recruitment and mobilization of other white men; intervention in racist, misogynistic behaviors; building a positive feminist anti-racist culture, and more.
    • White men’s leadership can look like a ton of different ways. But a couple key threads are about choosing to participate in projects, campaigns and initiatives that are developed and led by people of color, women, trans and gender nonconforming people, and also centering racial and gender justice in everything we do.
    • We have to cut this conversation off, but if you are hungry to dig into this deeper, come to our next Debrief/Visioning meeting on XXXXX


CLOSING  30mins



  • Get people interested and excited to come back together and think more through what an organizing project might look like/be.
  • Bring some sort of closing to the emotional and vulnerability people opened up.
  • Leave with warm fuzzies and fire


Where do we go from here? (15)

  • So we just talked about what men can do in theory… Now let’s spend a couple minutes to talk together about what this could look like in practice. We’re in a room full of men who are interested in fighting for racial and gender justice. That is a precious thing!  We’d like to propose that we come back together on _____, to talk further about what the people in this room could do to together or how we could support one another.
    • Is that something that some people would be interested in? Raise your hands if you think you might be.
    • If yes: Great!
      • Please get into pairs and take five or so minutes to start thinking about what kind of thing this group could potentially take on. (6 min)
      • So what did you think about or hear from your partners? (7 min)
      • Consider asking for volunteers in helping plan the next session.
    • If no: Ok. Well, I look forward to seeing you all in the struggle!


Virtues Practice (10)

  • We’d like to close today with a practice of speaking each other’s virtues. Often, as we’ve spoken about today, what we can call “emotional labor” (attending to the emotional needs of others, or a group) becomes the unspoken, relegated responsibility of women. One way to challenge this is to develop our own capacity around emotion, including our ability to name what we’re feeling in a given moment (which can increase trust with others) and practices that enable us to increase our competency with emotions.
  • One practice we can do, in this regard, is lift each other up through appreciation. We want to see each others strengths, as well as the places we can grow. So we are going to intentionally pause with each other and enter into a practice where we acknowledge one another’s strengths and positive qualities — not to disappear where we need to be accountable in our power, but to lift up our gifts.
  • Turn to a partner near you and spend a couple minutes appreciating someone else in the room — something they said or the way they showed up today (1 min each).
  • Turn to another partner and spend a couple minutes acknowledging a person in your life who made it possible for you to be here today (1 min each).
  • Would anyone like to share out your appreciation in the large group?


Closing and this Political Moment (2)

    • Put up Grace Lee Boggs Quote:


  • We have to do what I call visionary organizing. We have to see every crisis as both a danger and an opportunity. It’s a danger because it does so much damage to our lives, to our institutions, to all that we have expected. But it’s also an opportunity for us to become creative; to become the new kind of people that are needed at such a huge period of transition.



Source: On Revolution: A Conversation Between Grace Lee Boggs and Angela Davis” held on March 2, 2012 at the Pauley Ballroom, University of California, Berkeley


  • In closing, we want to lift up the work of Grace Lee Boggs, an incredible feminist and social activist who died last year at the age of 100. Grace spoke and wrote about the possibility of seeing opportunity within crisis — that when a complex system is in crisis, activists and organizers can seek out the opportunities present in the midst of fear, confusion, and breakdown.  With the rise of Donald Trump, we believe this moment presents an opportunity and a challenge– especially for white men — to leverage their power towards racial and gender justice. This is not a time to remain silent and complicit, but a time to bring our full hearts and minds to the struggle for collective liberation.
  • Facilitators Notes: Consider closing with  something here where you share something personal here, something from their heart, from their soul, about why this work is so important for these times, for our lives, for our futures.  For example, one person suggested talking about raising his two boys and what kind of a world he want them to grow up in, what kind of people of all genders he wants them to be in community with, and especially, what kind of feminist men, he wants in their lives, to have the feminist male role models, that so few of us have had.  A closing that moves people and reminds us of how much is truly at stake and how transformative this work really is.