Navigating White Spaces
Internalized oppressions, our psyches + Punching Back

Taught by Taylor Steel + Sam B.

Portland is one of the most "livable" cities in the US. It also happens to be one of the whitest large cities in the US. So what does it mean to be a person of color here? More specifically, how does it affect us, our psyches, and our collective growth? How do the stresses of being "the only one" manifest in us psychologically? More important, how do we recognize and mitigate these impacts in order to heal?

Join us for 4 weeks of exploring what it means to be different in white spaces. We'll discuss our racialized history and concepts of white accommodation and white normativity. The class will examine the role psychology might play in creating our own healing space, ultimately enabling us to thrive in white spaces.

Note: This class is restricted to those who self-identify as a POC so that we can create a safe space for discussions. Please email tsteele0331<at> for an enrollment password.

Week 1 || Setting the Context

Exploring the history of oppression and the discomfort that comes with existing in white space.
Read The Case for Reparations, by Ta-Nehisi Coates + The Racist History of Portland, The whitest City in America, by Alana Semuels.

Week 2 || White Normativity

What does it mean to be a person of color in Portland? What is white normativity? How does white normativity affect our day to day lives?
Read On Being White and Other Lies by James Baldwin + The Air I Breathe by Ifanyi Bell.

Week 3 || White Accommodation

In what ways to we accommodate whites. What have we changed about ourselves to make things easier for the dominant culture and why? What can we do recognize these habits and change them for the better? We will begin to explore the concept of healing.

Week 4 || Punching Back

Diving deeper into healing and mitigation tactics, we will empower ourselves to thrive in white spaces.
Read Still I Rise by Maya Angelou + Prisoners of Hope by Cornel West.

* Readings are subject to change

Taylor Steele is a renewable energy professional based in the Portland area. She is dedicated to diversity and equity work across the white-male dominated sustainability industry. At work, she is engaged in a diversity workgroup geared at creating and improving diversity, equity and inclusion across the company. She is also active in many local POC networks including but not limited to, Urban League of Portland (ULPDXYP) and Environmental Professionals of Color (EPOC).

Sam B. is a sustainability policy wonk and project manager in renewable energy and energy efficiency investments. Sam also works on projects at the intersection of health and environment. He is engaged in several community organizations, including the local chapter of the Environmental Professionals of Color and sees himself head of the unofficial PDX POC retention committee.