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Whiteness – A problem for our time
Thursday 14 January 2021, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Join us for a Tavistock Policy Seminar with Helen Morgan, examining white privilege and white fragility from a psychoanalytic perspective. This talk is in partnership with the British Psychotherapy Foundation, British Psychoanalytic Council & Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists.
In November 2020 we organised an open Tavistock Policy Seminar – Whiteness – A problem for our time. Within days there were over 1000 registrations. On the night 700 people attended Helen Morgan’s talk and were able to participate in intense conversations that ensued using both voice and chat.
We are repeating this seminar to enable a wider audience to attend, as well as those who were unable to do so on the night. Some people have asked to be able to attend a second time, and there has been widespread interest in the event.
Our Trust has stated that becoming an antiracist organisation is a necessary though difficult task. This seminar is a contribution to that process and Helen’s summary of her talk below suggests the need for white people to turn their gaze and their enquiry towards themselves as one route towards an anti-racist stance in race relations.
This presentation is rooted in the assumption that the problem of racism is a problem of whiteness and that an examination of this construct of whiteness needs to be central to seeking a solution to this destructive dynamic. A key and urgent question then for those of us who are regarded as white is, how do we interrogate our whiteness to bring about the radical change that is required?
‘Whiteness’ is a lived experience and a substantial factor in how one navigates the world and how one is navigated around by others. The ‘fragility’, the colour-blind approach and the silencing process of disavowal that develops in the childhood of white liberal families, are a means of maintaining white privilege and racism. A psychoanalytic approach can, therefore, be useful in understanding these psychological implications but only as one part of a wider perspective.
The work required in relation to whiteness and the relinquishment of privilege is essential if we are to dismantle the system of racism that is so embedded within our society. I argue this is no altruistic endeavour but that, whilst clearly doing untold harm to black people, such a system also limits and distorts the development of white individuals and the society in which we are citizens.