• Ilsa Govan

Challenging White Supremacy Culture in 2020

When we speak boldly and challenge White supremacy, White supremacy pushes back. We’ve seen this most recently in the federal investigation into racial justice workshop in the City of Seattle. This was quickly followed by a memo from Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Federal Government, instructing that, “Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” Such sessions include teaching about critical race theory and White privilege. Using the language of “un-American propaganda” immediately brings to mind McCarthyism and is a blatant attempt to suppress the surging anti-racist movement.

We’re familiar with backlash when we start talking about White privilege and White supremacy in our culture. In 2007, while working in Seattle Public Schools Equity and Race Department, Dr. Hollins, Ilsa, and our co-worker Ray Williams used a Federal leadership grant to send students to the White Privilege Conference. The swift response in the form of an investigation by the US Department of Education let us know we were frightening someone with power and connections. They ended up finding we had used the funds appropriately, but the message was not lost on us of how quickly people who benefit from systems of White privilege can throw up barriers to anti-racism work.

The types of anti-racism sessions this administration is currently trying to limit sound l