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Session Title

1117: The body already knows: A framework for dismantling race, racism, and whiteness and achieving racial justice

Session Times

Tuesday, May 28: 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.


This workshop is based on two key ideas: The first is that Race, Racism and Whiteness (RRW) serve to unnaturally divide us and violently disrupt our inherent human connection. The second is that our bodies already know how to live in a just and supportive community and this knowledge can serve as a powerful framework for uprooting racial oppression and achieving racial justice. Thus, the dismantling of RRW is not actually something we have to "work toward", but rather a "coming home" to our rightful human interdependence. And, it is in the space of this interconnectivity, rooted in our bodies' own knowledge, that we can find the deep sources of racial liberation and healing. 

Based on the above two ideas, the workshop addresses the impacts of RRW on ourselves, our interactions with others, our experiences with race, the systems of racism and whiteness, and finally with the long history of these racial dynamics in our society. On all four of these levels, we address the content by first grounding into the body and helping participants explore the notion of "embodied racial justice". To be sure, this is not a watering-down of critical race work and instead helps participants be more present and more capable of leaning into the complexities of racial justice work. We then discuss concrete concepts regarding Race, Racism and Whiteness, such as the power of the U.S. "racial narratives", the mechanisms of systemic racism and how its impacts land on our bodies, and the role of the whiteness (white privilege and white supremacy) in our individual and structural lives. For all of these concepts materials will be provided, opportunities for discussion and application will be central, and time for questions will be made at the end of this section. Having said that, this section is truncated based on the intermediate to advanced level of this session and the expectation that folks coming in already know most if not all of this content. 

The latter half of the day then examines the innovative framework of "cellular wisdom" developed for this workshop, and provides a range of opportunities to practice using it on the same four levels we explored in the first half of the day. The workshop concludes with small group work dedicated to the concrete application of this framework to participants' racial justice work in higher education. This session should particularly benefit those who are looking for more complex ways to understand how to dismantle the dynamics of RRW on their campuses. Participants can expect to leave with both cognitive and somatic tools for their racial justice work as well as resources to further their individual growth in these areas.

While there is attention given to embodiment in the session, the primary focus is the deepening our critical race knowledge base and developing racial justice tools that can be used in any sector of a higher educational setting. Because of the complexity of its content, this interactive workshop is not a good fit for those new to racial justice content.  


Heather Hackman, EdD, Founder and President, Hackman Consulting Group