Volume 4 • March 6, 2018

This Issue

  1. Sparks to learn, smile, and shine.
  2. A shareable quotable
  3. My ignorance is not okay
  4. Tell me more

1. Sparks

On the Syllabus

  • We can’t read anymore. This line really stood out: “One famous study found humans would rather give themselves electric shocks than sit alone with their thoughts for 10 minutes. We disobey those instincts every time we get lost in a book.”

  • I don’t catch all episodes of Call Your Girlfriend anymore (mostly because I don’t spend enough time in the car to get through all my podcasts), but in a recent episode, Ann and Amina break down Amina’s cancer journey and talking about women’s pain. It’s worth a listen.

  • Are you supporting white supremacy at work? This article is focused on academia, but the concepts apply across industries.

Youth Profiles

Hither and Yons

2. A Shareable Quotable

White people, take note: 

Your survival has never depended on your knowledge of white culture. In fact, it’s required your ignorance.

—Ijeoma Oluo

(For an shareable image of this quote, click here.)

3. My Ignorance is not Okay

Hey y’all,

It is clear to most people who follow me online or speak with me in person that I am interested in social justice. I try to educate myself about social justice issues and I care deeply about righting the inequities in the world. I care deeply about peoples who are marginalized, mistreated, and discriminated against. Many of us do.

Recently a professor I know asked an equity work group this question: are you interested in social justice, or are you committed to social justice?

I’m ashamed to say, that until that moment, I was probably just interested.

Interest without commitment is white privilege.

I can choose to tune in and out of many painful parts of the world because I am white (and cis, educated, hetero, employed, and so on).

Let’s be clear, that privilege isn’t just about the benefits of whiteness.

White people’s ignorance about privilege is also a source of pain (and even trauma) for native peoples and people of color.

You read that right.

Choosing to tune in and out of social justice when it’s convenient for me causes pain to human beings who are living in the realities of injustice.

I knew this intellectually before this past week, but I felt this in a deep way when I watched people of color in my equity group be repeatedly injured by white ignorance. Whether it is well meaning or not, whether it comes from a place of love or not, ignorance of this kind is powerful.

White people reading this—we have to do better. We can’t continue to let our ignorance be a weapon.

You know my feelings about ignorance from an earlier newsletter: ignorance is data, it tells us where to work and learn.

An important first step for me and other white folk is to learn about what whiteness is, because most of us don’t really understand it.

Whiteness is a social construct, a set of systems and beliefs that are usually unspoken and unnoticed by the people who benefit from them. White people benefit from the construct of whiteness, because our systems and our culture are built that way. Our systems and culture designed everything so that white people would benefit, and yet most of the people who benefit from whiteness are ignorant of that whiteness.

I find I can say now, after contemplating the question I began this letter with, that I am now committed to social justice in a new way. As an educator, I have a lot of power to help or hurt students, in both my pedagogical choices, and in my informal interactions with them.

The last thing I want is for my ignorance to be one more weapon used against them in a system that is already set up to help them fail.

Learning more about my own whiteness is a necessary step towards racial equity.  

So, I'm taking action. I’m starting an online study group on deconstructing whiteness. This will be a collaborative endeavor, where we read and study, taking turns to pick texts, prepare discussion questions, and participate in conference calls.

I hope to gather a small but dedicated group to do this work together.

It will be uncomfortable.

If you too are committed to social justice and want to begin to deconstruct whiteness, please join. You can click through this link to fill out the application.

Your partly cloudy band leader,


4. Tell Me More

Hit reply to this email and let me know:

  • What would you like to see me write more of on the blog and in the newsletter? What resonates with you?
  • About activism by and for young people from disproportionately impacted groups.

Please forward this newsletter along to a friend who might enjoy it.

You can also join the conversation on Instagram, which is where I hang out most.

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Cherri Porter is Partly Cloudy Creatives

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