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CSWAC has developed some core understandings over time. These understandings shape our perspective and approach.

Anti-racist perspective – To CSWAC, this means understanding that race and racism are part of a societal level system that maintains power and privilege for people racialized as white, to the disadvantage of people not racialized as white. Our experience tells us that approaches which call for managing diversity, holding dialogues, or looking at cultural difference will not have much impact unless they incorporate an understanding of white privilege and the central role that white American culture plays in determining access to power and resources in our society.

Multiracial approach — We believe the views of both white people and people of color are necessary to understanding white American culture, and — in broader terms — how race operates in the United States. Our Board of Trustees is multiracial in composition, as are our staff and trainers. We may work with same-race groups — this can be important work — but our larger goal and purpose is always to support the development of multiracial organizations and institutions.

Decentering whiteness – CSWAC believes that presently white American culture forms the central values of our society, and governs access to power and resources. We believe it is inherently unfair for a single racial group to have this control, and that white culture needs to step out of the center. Please see our strategy paper for more on this core understanding.

Building multiracial community – CSWAC believes the central values of our society should be multiracial, and that access to power and resources should be governed by multiracial processes and structures. If we are to decenter white American culture, we also need to center a multiracial culture by intentionally valuing and building multiracial community in our organizations and institutions. Please see our strategy paper for more on this topic as well.

Love & Justice – Some people look to build relationships across racial lines, and other people seek to undo the racially inequitable conditions that exist. We have come to characterize these approaches as “love” (relationship) and “justice” (meaningful action addressing inequitable conditions). These are deep and significant themes. All too often programs take one approach, but neglect the other. CSWAC believes that a sound program of racial change must address concerns of both love and justice.

Working for racial justice & equity – Improving race relations does not simply mean forming friendships across racial lines. We also need to focus on creating organizations and institutions in which access to power, resources and opportunity is fair and equitable. CSWAC board members, staff and trainers understand this imperative, and engage in work for racial justice and equity in their personal and professional lives.

These core understandings do not operate in isolation. Rather, they overlap, work together and build on one another. CSWAC has found these core understandings may be applied across several models of race relations activity, such as: managing diversity, multicultural education, cultural competence, human services, advocacy, reconciliation, racial justice, dialogue, social change, community-building, and organizing.We understand that not all predominantly white organizations are ready to engage in education and training guided by these core understandings. But CSWAC is finding many are.

We bring you integrity, humanity and a real world understanding of what it takes for a predominantly white organization to move toward becoming a multiracial organization. CSWAC has found that people of all racial backgrounds support this goal and want to begin the challenging work to achieve it.


Copyright ©2001, 2009. Center for the Study of White American Culture, Inc. All rights reserved.