Loyola University Chicago

Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs

Division of Student Development

R.A.W. Participant Reflections

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R.A.W. Participant Reflections

"Before participating in R.A.W., I was apprehensive about white affinity spaces because they can often become places for conversation about white guilt. I have also participated in white affinity spaces where the discussion is not rooted in reliable sources like academic material. This was not the case with R.A.W." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"I have heard many misconceptions. RAW is not a white power group. RAW is not a group in which we make students feel guilty for their white privilege. RAW is not a space in which we ignore the pain of low-income whites." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"I've heard white affinity spaces referred to as white power or supremacist spaces. Rare is it that the dominant gather to discuss their dominance, thus, white affinity spaces can be seen as problematic or scary if misunderstood as a supremacist group." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"A misconception about white affinity spaces is that they support white supremacy or serve as a space for white people to reveal their racism to other whites without consequence." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"Unfortunately, I have been a part of white affinity spaces that became very negative. I think this has to do with the lack of trust and boundaries in place before the affinity space begins. I think other white people have had similar experiences, or they may just be uncomfortable meeting in an exclusive fashion at all. I believe these misconceptions surround R.A.W. because white people have apprehensions when discussing race with all people. Therefore, a group that discusses race, privilege, social justice, oppression, etc. will pose challenging questions to many who would rather not think about the topic." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"All of them misconceptions I just listed are, well, misconceptions. Affinity spaces and safe spaces are targets for conservative media; they claim that because the world is not safe, there should be no safe space in higher education. We must prepare students for the 'real' world. Here at Loyola, however, we want our students to change the world. Therefore, we offer affinity and safe spaces where students with common identities can talk through their struggles or super intense, relevant issues and decide together how to best face the challenges ahead. It is my belief that it is not the job of POC to educate whites on systemic racism in this nation, white privilege, microaggressions, and the like. It is the job of aware, progressive, white-identifying folks to organize spaces and conversations through which they can unpack the many privileges their white skin affords them and think about the actions they can take to change the hearts & minds of their white peers who have yet to understand the many ways in which our society holds back people of color, be better comrades to their friends of color, and help build a more just, inclusive society. RAW's true mission is hard to understand, granted, if you are not in RAW. I believe that heavily publicizing RAW testimonials could help." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"These misconceptions are absolutely untrue. I think these misconceptions exist because historically "white only" spaces and groups have been extremely harmful. I understand this history and recognize it but want to flip the script with RAW as an affinity space." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"I would want to share that R.A.W. has been an integral component of my Loyola experience. As I am not a person of color, I had never visited SDMA before becoming a member of R.A.W. I believe it is important to have people of all races supporting the efforts of SDMA. R.A.W. gave me this ability, and it gave me the language to discuss uncomfortable issues like institutionalized oppression of people of color in a well-informed manner. I no longer felt like discussions of racism were emotional arguments between two groups, but instead, I felt like I could meet those I talked to were they were, and understand their situation better." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"You cannot fully understand RAW until you have been through the program. The conversations we have are life changing. I am a better staff member, advocate & ally for students, educator, mentor, and friend because of this program. You must know what you believe and why. One of the greatest aspects of humanity is our ability to question and research our thoughts and beliefs. Through this research, conversations with our peers & mentors, and listening to humans from a diverse body of backgrounds, we begin to understand ourselves and others better; we think big picture and have more empathy than we could have ever previously imagined. And suddenly the world isn't so small, and everything is connected. It's a beautiful thing to re-examine what you've been told." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"Look again. If you are looking for a way to make your allyship actionable, look again. If you are curious about the histories that inform our current realities, look again. If you are unsure as to what you'll contribute, look again...pause yourself and know that you will have plenty to contribute. If you may think this space is problematic, enter it and see for yourself." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"RAW is a program designed and implemented by SDMA, a department that ensures its programming and events contribute to equity rather than challenge it. We as RAW participants have many resources and people to turn to if we feel that there is ever an issue that needs to be talked about, and the people I experienced in my cohort were reading and willing to learn about dismantling oppression." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"The most significant learning experience I have gathered from R.A.W. is the ability to better identify and prevent racism and injustice when I see it. As a student interested in the environment, having a firm grasp on privilege, racism, equity, etc. is incredibly important. It is my hope to work in communities that are lacking environmental justice, and R.A.W. was a wonderful way to prepare me for that work." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"To me, the most significant learning experience was, as a staff member, opening up to fellow staff members and students about my struggles with speaking to my mother about issues like systemic racism and white privilege. In general, though, I learned how to be more vulnerable than I usually am outside of my small circle of family and friends. This vulnerability was necessary for me to unpack these issues and come up with a way to better address them with my mother." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"There is no such thing as a "good white person" and you never arrive in a space of having "acknowledged your privilege and wiped your hands of your whiteness." This is a constant process, one that starts over and over and over. A process that requires humility and a listening ear. You don't ever arrive having it figured out. Your white body precedes your privilege acknowledgement." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"A significant learning experience was practicing vulnerability and owning the internalized racism within me. By being cognizant of this, I am able to deal with and work against those ideas." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"I would encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone because that is when I have grown the most." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"Do it. If you are worried about the time commitment, it's not a big one, and the readings are interesting, engaging, and relevant. If you are worried about the content, remember-- you must re-examine all you have been told! Join and read and listen and ask questions. I once interned with a Republican Congressman, because I wanted hill experience, and my Congressman happened to be a Republican. As a progressive, liberal individual, this was, indeed, a challenge. But, I consistently had to practice a solid model of argumentation-- understand and be able to reiterate the views of the other person in a way that is not mocking or over-simplified, be able anticipate their objections & address their concerns, and then (and only then) can you state your own point in a way that will get through to the other person. And you know what? They respected me, and they found work for me that suited my interests and beliefs. Why? Because I knew what I believed and why and wasn't afraid to be challenged on any of it. RAW is a good, healthy challenge. You will come out a better person. Just join." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"You'll never know until you try. Once you try, you will be impressed by what there is within this space. Once hooked, you'll be able to explore your identity, power, privilege, and impact-opportunities in a safe, brave space." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"I would say to just try it out! You could always decide to not be in RAW after the first meeting, but if you never try at all then you will not know what and who you are missing." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"I stand by this program because I know the material we covered was sound, and the relationships I have built by being part of R.A.W. will last." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"I stand by this program, because people of color should not have to educate white folks about white privilege or systematic racism. It's factual. It's blatantly obvious. It's time for white folks who get it to put in the work of ushering their white peers into the future." --Guide, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort
"I stand by RAW because it aligns directly with Loyola's mission, vision, and promise. It allows white folks who aspire to be ally's the space to work on themselves and their own conceptions, perspectives, baggage, and ideas that will either hold them back or propel them to critically, meaningfully, and positively contribute to a just, thriving world." --Guide, R.A.w. 2016-17 Cohort
"I support RAW because it helps white people become more comfortable and competent to talk about race and gives action plans for the journey to allyship." --Student Participant, R.A.W. 2016-17 Cohort