My dream of becoming an anti-racist

By Catherine (Cay) Crowley, PhD

Interrupting Privilege Alum

I continue on a journey to become a better grandmother to all my grandchildren.  I want for my mixed-race grandkids to have the same opportunity and the same treatment as our White children and grandchildren have had.  I want them to be able to walk in our neighborhood without causing a stir.

Picture1I am aware that progress on racism has been made in my lifetime.  My son Patrick would not have been able to marry Erika until Loving v Virginia ended the ban of interracial marriages in 1967.  Our kids attended integrated schools.  But the progress has been limited and not nearly enough.  Though legal slavery ended with Lincoln and the Civil War over 150 years ago, our Black citizens have been discriminated against through institutions like Jim Crow laws, redlining, and other efforts to marginalize them, deny them the ability to accumulate wealth, and to walk in the world with dignity.  I have thought I was color blind, I thought we did pretty well at raising tolerant adults.  The picture speaks to that success.  

But when I am honest with myself I know I harbor deep seated racial biases.  How do I respond when a young black man in a hoody walks toward me on the street or sits by me when I was still taking buses?  Do I clutch my purse?  Do I put my bag of market produce on the seat next to me?  I have experimented with engaging the kid in conversation instead of distancing myself.  The young man usually is wary at first but then seems to welcome conversing with me.  I try to put myself in his shoes, thinking about the harm done by clutching my purse instead of being warmly engaged.   Flash forward to the last few months.  How many deaths of Black people have there been at the hands of police?  My reactions were negative.  Another death.  Another abuse of power/privilege/position.  But I am appalled that I was not outraged at the deaths of Aubrey or Breonna or George.  I have become inured to how horrific these murders are…how frequently they happen and how little has been done to prevent these needless deaths.  I am appalled at my failure to react more strongly.  Where did my humanity go?  I am appalled at myself.  

Recently, Erika, Patrick and their kids attended the Seattle Children’s March.  My husband and I opted to stay home so as to not risk the trump virus.  I wish we had attended.  Organized and managed by Black youths, ten demands were presented.  The demands sound familiar to these 72 year old ears:  fund education for schools equally, hire teachers who look like the students in the school, end police violence toward Black citizens, close the juvenile jails and instead provide more social and health support.  Erika and Patrick were moved and inspired by the march.  I am too.  It is for the youth, passionate, articulate and courageous to work for these changes.  It is up to us to support, encourage and ensure these changes.

That is easier said than done. I look at my precious grandson.  He is cute as a button, smart as a whip, verbally precocious and bold physically and socially.  He attended his first antiracist demonstration. 


By the age of ten people will begin to treat him differently, react to him in fear, distance themselves. He will have to dress and behave in a way to avoid being harmed.   His parents and I will have to worry if he will make it home from his first solo jog alive.  His sister is equally cute, smart, precocious and dignified.  In a very few years she will take her first driving lesson.  Will that first driving lesson consist of learning to turn off the car, produce her credentials, put the keys on top of the car,  raise her hands, and be polite when she is stopped by a cop?  We have only a few years to reverse this reality for them.  I admit I get frozen in my discouragement.  I urge us all to try to do our part, to do better:  on a daily basis, work to treat all people respectfully regardless of age, of color, of gender.  Each of us can identify some institution, some law, some corporate policy that perpetuates racial discrimination.  Each of us can commit to effect change.  If you are in education, work to hire more educators of color, stop criminalizing school behavioral infractions, expect and encourage academic achievement for all children regardless of color.  If you work in real estate or provide mortgages stop discriminating against people of color.  Please, think of what you can do to effect change.  If you cannot find a policy or procedure to change, donate to nonprofits that can result in change.  Think of scholarships or programs designed for black students.  Vote for people who will strive to make America anti-racist.

Roll up your sleeves.  Do something.  Look inside and see your own biases and work to change them.

Thank you.

ATF – Must Fuel Our Advance Towards Equality

By Patrick Belvin

Winter/Spring 2020

At first glance, you may think that I am talking about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabaco, Firearms and Explosive – and maybe wondering where is this going.  I am not talking about that.  I am talking about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd; Arbery, Taylor, Floyd; ATF.  Their murders, Floyd’s in particular, have resulted in a global response that demands accountability for the injustices perpetrated on Black people by the police.  From Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Germany, to the United Kingdom, White people have joined the marches in the streets with Black people to say THIS IS ENOUGH!  People watched the slow-motion execution of George Floyd committed by Derek Chauvin and saw what their eyes were telling them – that Chauvin, even as he was being filmed, casually took Floyd’s life as if he were casually smoking a cigarette.

People en masse have taken to the streets with a determination unlike anything we have seen in American history.  Most of the protesters have worn facemasks, being aware of Coronavirus.  Many of the marches have been peaceful.  The protesters have ignored taunts and forged ahead to excise their First Amendment rights.

George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police is not an aberration.  The fact that it was caught on tape makes it unique – but this time there it is a different tenor in the public response to police violence that society must use as an assessment towards a reconciliation to address what has gone on far too long.  I am calling for a complete autopsy of policing – a dissection and analysis aimed at getting to the cause that constricts, terrorizes, and murders People of Color.

There truly is a sign of real police reform afoot.  However, that is just the start to addressing the myriad of problems that sill plague Black communities.  Policing in the U.S. is a symptom, not a diagnosis of what is wrong with Western culture. Again, people are seeing this.  Structural inequality has suffocated Black communities.  The lack of upward mobility might have driven George Floyd to walk into that corner store with a fake $20 bill.  The Coronavirus’s impact on the economy has not fully addressed these inequities.  It has simply highlighted the argument that Black people have been making for decades. And it’s not just Black people who are seeing this – again, look at who is protesting alongside us in the streets.

Colin Kaepernick’s name and intentions resurfaced in this argument of racial inequality and police brutality.  His career, his athleticism in his prime were stolen after he protested the mistreatment of Black people and police violence.  The National Football League’s response to Kaepernick is laid out perfectly in an article written by Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, titled “This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee.”   

The league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement “We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.” Though Goodell does not mention Kaepernick in the entirety of his statement, it is clear that his remarks, and other owners around the league who have issued similar apologies for their indifference to racial inequality, are trying to be on the right side of this history.

The racial unrest Black people have felt for generations is finally tearing at the soul of a nation – this turbulence demands structural change as the violence perpetrated against ATF (Arbery/Taylor/Floyd) fuels our advance towards equality.  These vicissitudes are partially dependent on the results of the future presidential election.  If Biden wins, Black people have given him a mandate – one that he has to put into motion.  If Trump is reelected by hook or crook, there will be challenges to trying achieve true and lasting change in America.  Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of Between the World and Me, stated during a podcast with Ezra Klein, “It may be true that Donald Trump will win.  Maybe this will lead to some sort of white backlash that ultimately helps him.” The “this,” I believe, Coates is talking about are the protests.

We are in the midst of a true moral transformational moment in our history.  We, Black people, must seize this time to make progress in education, K-12 and higher education by securing larger endowments and federal funding for HBCUs.  We must push for better healthcare, neighborhood facelifts, and foundational wealth.  Now, more than ever, we have to make good on what we said we would do if this moment ever arrived. I believe we are 100-meters from the finish of that 400-meter race we have been running so hard for so long.

Black Uprising in Opposition to Systemic Oppression Signal Alarms for White America Even Amid Covid-19

By Patrick Belvin

Winter/Spring 2020

More than 115,000 people in the United States have died due to the Coronavirus.   Black people represent 27% of those deaths. This is an astonishing number when we consider that Black people represent only 13% of the U.S. population. And as we consider these statistics, Black people are still being killed with impunity by armed civilians, police, or having to face the threat of having 911 called on us – because we had the nerve to take a jog on a Sunday afternoon in a white neighborhood; because we had the nerve to sleep in our own beds at night before being awaken to the sound of windows and doors being smashed; or because we unfortunately had the nerve to commit an offense of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael because he was jogging in a neighborhood not welcoming of Black people.  When Arbery challenged the two men’s perceived authority to question him, they took Arbery’s life with a shotgun blast to his chest.

Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had the nerve to be sleeping in their apartment when they were awakened by the sound of a door being kicked in.  Walker grabbed his registered gun and fired at who he thought were intruders.  The police who retuned that gun fire and shot Breonna Taylor eight times.  The FBI has finally opened an investigation.  Kenneth Walker was arrested after wounding one of the officers, but the charges were later dropped.  Walker’s arrest, however, is yet another message to Black people that you cannot challenge the authority of White America.

The George Floyd murder draws stark memories of Eric Garner at the hands of Daniel Pantaleo.  The video of Derick Chauvin placing his knee on Floyd’s neck confirms that he had no regard for Floyd’s life. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and now a Georgetown Law Professor, said, “If you watch this video and believe you are seeing the slow motion of an execution, you are correct.” Floyd, however, dared to use a fake $20 bill and in doing so, broke the law. This white man, Derek Chauvin, decided it was time to take George Floyd’s life.

What/who is the White America I am talking about?  I am talking about those who see their White skin as something superior to people of color.  Those who, at the sight of a Black man coming down the street, immediately clutch their purse or lock their doors – then say, “Oh, I’m not a racist.”  Those who deny our opportunity to earn a living if we don’t submit to their will. Those who see Black people as a physical threat to their safety and discharge their guns to take our lives. And those who use their white privilege to contact police on us for the most innocuous or made up reasons.

Christian Cooper, a graduate of Harvard, asked Amy Cooper to “please” call 911 on him because he had asked her to leash her dog.  Cooper responded by saying, “I am going to call the police and tell them that there’s an African American man threatening my life.” It’s important to note how Amy Cooper, when confronted by a Black man, immediately defaulted to her privilege as a White woman to threaten a Black man by falsely accusing him of a crime.

The financial cost of challenging White America: 

Muhammad Ali had the nerve to refuse induction into the United States Army because he opposed the Vietnam war; and, so, became a villain to White America.  His livelihood and his future athletic achievement were stolen by the New York Athletic Commission with the revocation of his boxing license.  It was only after Ali’s skills had waned and his speech and mobility had become severely limited by Parkinson’s disease that White America accepted him as a hero and national symbol of pride.  It is ironic that Ali, in his weakest state of mind and physical ability, had become a pillar of strength in America.  Ali became that to White America because he no longer represented a threat to it.

Decades later, Colin Kaepernick, had the nerve to take a knee during the National Anthem at football games in protest of police brutality of Black people.  He had become a villain to White America because he refused to stand with his hand over his heart to give deference to a flag that does not confer the same freedoms upon Black people that it does to White people.  Because of Kaepernick’s defiance, the National Football league refused to allow him to continue his football career. Colin Kaepernick, with his youth, tattoos, physical strength, and audacious afro represents an existential threat to White America’s position of power and privilege- and, in response, it must use all the tools at its disposal to neutralize him just as it did Muhammad Ali.

Kaepernick may never play football again.  Yet, he sacrificed the materiality of sports’ fame to remain true to his convictions – because if you don’t take a knee in protest of police brutality, you’ll stand for oppression. 

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and George Floyd died at the hands of thugs and the police. We are tired of the destruction of our Black bodies.  We have been heard, but not been listened to.  George Floyd cried out saying he couldn’t breathe.  Derek Chauvin did not listen to him.  Floyd then cried out for his mother.

With more than 115,000 people dead from coronavirus, it has not stopped the structural inequality that exists in Black America from lack of sufficient housing, proper protection on the job during Covid-19, and access to health care. The visible death toll still hasn’t stopped the pillage of Black lives. We are all in this together?  Yeah, right!

evolution of racism

By Nadirah

Winter/Spring 2020

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom (Malcom x).”

Over the course of my life I have heard people say, “well racism now is not as bad as it was during the Jim Crow era…times have changed”, so much that I almost started to believe these statements but as I have grown up to see what’s happening today I do not think this statement is completely valid. I do believe however that things have changed; but for the better? No, not exactly.  Even though social media is super big right and a lot of people’s main source of media, a lot of police brutality and racist acts have gone unnoticed when cameras are not turned on. So even though racist behaviors might seem as everything has changed for the better and has become less throughout the years. I do not believe that is true because just because we do not see a lot of racism as out in the open as the Jim Crow era but it is still very prevalent today. Sendhil Mullainathan states that “31.8 percent of people shot by the police were African-American, a proportion more than two and a half times the 13.2 percent of African-Americans in the general population.” which makes African Americans 2.4 more likely to be killed by police officers than their white counterparts according to “Frank Edwards, of Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice, Hedwig Lee, of Washington University in St. Louis’s Department of Sociology, and Michael Esposito, of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.” During my time at interrupting privilege I got to hear a large variety of opinions that broadened my view on a lot of topics that were talked about during the sessions.

Works cited

Mock, Brentin, and CityLab. “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings.” CityLab, 7 Aug. 2019,

Mullainathan, Sendhil. “Police Killings of Blacks: Here Is What the Data Say.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Oct. 2015,


Interrupting Privilege is Different in the Year 2020.

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Artist Credit: Meshell Sturgis; Photo Credit: Quinn Russell Brown

By Meshell Sturgis

Winter/Spring 2020

National, racial, and class privileges are illuminated in this new age of social distancing and economic downturn. Early this year, the slogan “viruses don’t discriminate, and neither should we” circulated through much of the University of Washington’s messaging. The campus, which has a 22.5% Asian and 15.5% international undergraduate population, deployed such rhetoric as a supposed shield against the uptick of xenophobia and hate crimes since the coronavirus spread. Seattle’s International District is an already growingly hostile place that has been particularly hard hit with White supremacist vitriol. Despite the scientifically race-neutral spread of COVID-19, it has become increasingly clear that humans and their systems do discriminate. Effects such as racial battle fatigue and weathering, unequal healthcare and access to resources, as well as higher rates of incarceration, homelessness, and pre-existing conditions have led to disproportionate infection rates amongst people of color during this public health crisis, especially the Black community.

This academic year, the Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity (CCDE) had already switched things up with its flagship inter-generational program about power, privilege, and difference, running Interrupting Privilege (IP) for its fourth year. Created by Dr. Ralina Joseph, the program’s initiative to do work in the community was in full effect when the COVID-19 global pandemic struck. Currently Dr. Joseph is a Mellon/ACLS Scholar & Society fellow. This prestigious opportunity has brought the IP program beyond its founding borders. While in the past, the program has partnered with the University of Washington (UW) Alumni Association and mixed-race youth and adolescents in the Seattle area, this year the program teamed up with the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM). Not only has IP shifted its discussions specifically to differences within the Black diaspora, but in response to the coronavirus, those discussions have had to move online. In light of this novel social, political, and economic situation, the act of interrupting privilege remains fraught and necessary—perhaps even more now than before.

No longer taking place in a classroom, the program has found its home in the Central District, south of UW’s campus near Garfield High School. Dr. Joseph, along with a cohort of undergrads and graduate researchers in tow, teamed up with Dr. LaNesha Debardelaben, the director of NAAM, along with staff, local community members, and high schoolers to expand the IP experience. Centering the perspectives of African Americans in Seattle’s “Black community hub,” shifted the focus of IP from interracial to intraracial conversations—a sort of diasporic dialogue. A key component of Black identity, the African or Black diaspora is a term used to explain the global spread of peoples due to imperialism, colonialism, and histories of slavery. The Black diaspora includes people from all corners of the world who claim African ancestry, despite divergent experiences and geographic locations. Not only has IP’s move centered Black voices, but the Black intraracial dialogues have highlighted the expansive diversity within the diaspora.

In the fall, we interviewed high school, undergraduate, and graduate students and invited a select group of 23 of them to participate in the program alongside equal numbers of community member applicants. All of the students were then paired up for a recorded discussion session that focused on experiences of race, racism, and being Black in Seattle and at school, as well as experiences related to the Black diaspora, privilege, microaggressions, difference, and intersectional identities. Then, in the winter, the audio recordings were clipped by Anjuli Brekke, a research assistant for the CCDE, and incorporated into the lectures. Sessions were part interactive, and part listening party. A total of three group sessions were held at NAAM and the fourth session took place over Zoom. Here at the end of the spring quarter, students have published short think pieces for the IP blog. They have written about microaggressions like the “where are you from?” question and commemorated the death of Ahmaud Arbery, yet another loss of vibrant Black life to what one student calls “color violence.” Several posts are about modes of resistance like stirring the pot and using Black English, while others are about the importance of sharing our stories despite whatever feelings of fear. The students’ writings highlight the diversity of the Black diaspora, tensions between the diaspora, as well as missed opportunities for solidarity across lines of difference.

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Session 4 Zoom Meeting
Artist Credit: Meshell Sturgis

The late Black cultural studies scholar Stuart Hall (1990) describes cultural identity on one hand as an essential and collective history of experience and ancestors (p. 223). It is what places like the NAAM have come to represent as a beacon and home space for many Black identified folks in the area. On the other hand, Hall describes cultural identity as an unfixed “deep and significant difference” which is constantly undergoing transformation (1990, p. 226). The IP sessions seek to surface and foster this difference. “Difference, therefore, persists – in and alongside continuity” (p. 227). An example of this two-handed diasporic experience was when we listened to a podcast on the history of the “N” word. Then, in a session at NAAM, we all stood along an imaginary spectrum in the room, demarcating our relationship to our use of the word. Standing together like that illuminated how we each had a different perspective and still, the group shared a common understanding of history.

For Hall, the diaspora is an “unstable” point of identification, a site for struggle over meaning, and a “symbolic journ[ey]” that is “necessary for us all – and necessarily circular” (p. 232).  Perhaps this circle can be envisioned by the way we arranged our chairs during the sessions so we could all see each other, or the way we stood in a circle for a sociometric exercise in the beginning that visualized the intersections of our differences. Or, maybe it can even be seen in the “brady bunch” gallery view option during the fourth session over Zoom. The difference with interrupting privilege this year is about understanding the individual privileges of our situated positions within the Black diaspora while honoring our sociality as Black folks. Such diasporic dialogues hinge on our points of tension, contradictions, and shared struggles. We cannot go back to the way things were prior to the discovery of COVID-19, nor can we truly predict what the future holds. However, the ways in which we show up for one another in these moments, over the phone, online, and through Zoom are part of this present struggle to interrupt privilege and center difference and equity.


Hall, S. (1990). “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Jonathan Rutherford (Ed.) Identity: Community, Culture, Difference (pp. 222-237). Lawrence & Wishart.


Mourning our Collective Space: Reimagining our Community on the Screen

By Anjuli Brekke

Winter/Spring 2020

Recently, I was Zooming with a good friend of mine who has been struggling with quarantine fatigue. As an extrovert who is energized by engaging with other people, she is struggling with feelings of isolation and loss of purpose. When I pointed out to her that she talks to friends and coworkers online every day, she sighed. Although virtual connection helps, she stressed “It’s not the same vibe.” Seeing your classmates, friends and co-workers’ faces neatly displayed in little rows on your computer screen certainly creates a different vibe. As Interrupting Privilege  has moved online, we’ve had to cultivate a new vibe, to mourn and reimagine our collective space.

In their blog posts, many of the Interrupting Privilege students and community members discuss the importance of embodying the same physical space, of having a place where “folks can be unapologetically black,” as one student puts it. Another student writes about the transformative potential of assembling together at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM): “it provided a space for radiant, spirited Black bodies to come together and just be.” Another student discusses how although museums are spaces he usually associates with a legacy of “violence and imperialism,” NAAM is different. If offers instead a glimmer of hope “that the stories behind the artifacts can connect us to our sense of self.” These posts highlight the importance of physically assembling with other Black people in a space built by the local Black community to honor Black history. When we were all ordered to stay isolated in our homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19, however, we were forced to radically rethink how we would continue to maintain this vital community going forward.

The virus has not only impacted our ability to assemble as a large group at the museum; it has also impacted how we are recording conversations between participants. In fall of 2019, we recorded dialogues between Black high school, undergraduate and graduate students from all over Seattle. The intimate and lively exchanges that took place in our recording studio on campus covered a wide variety of themes and experiences, ranging from heated debates over the N-word and the power of language, to comparing strategies for dealing with microaggressions. We used audio clips from these dialogues to fuel discussions during the subsequent gatherings at NAAM.

In early December, in the times before we feared breathing the same air, I remember sitting in our small recording studio with fellow researcher Darius Presley and two passionate high school students who are long-time friends. The recording space seemed to vibrate with energy as they began their animated back-and-forth comparing their experiences as young, Black women in Seattle. Although these conversations typically last 40-50 minutes, that day in the studio over an hour and half flew by. That was the last conversation I helped record. Now that we’ve entered the age of social distancing, it’s hard to imagine squeezing four people into that small, soundproof studio with its air-tight seal ever again.

A few months after we recorded that last dialogue, we played an audio clip from the conversation at the NAAM. The room buzzed with vitality as fellow Black students and community members first listened to the wisdom of these young women’s words, and then lovingly engaged, challenged and affirmed their perspectives. One student’s blog post paints this pre-corona scene beautifully: “Since starting the Interrupting Privilege project, I’ve never felt more at home with a group of strangers in this city. Knowing this is something of a rarity, a room full of melanated people, all wanting to learn from one another.” That was the last time we shared the communal space of the NAAM before our world shut down. Although we can no longer assemble, the pandemic has forced us to find innovative ways of continuing our work through the chaos.

I’m now helping to record conversations on Zoom between our community member partners. As we’ve moved these intimate recordings online, in addition to the lack of body language, smell and touch that shape the contours of physical conversations, we’ve also had to deal with occasional glitches and loss of connection. “Are you still there? Or are you frozen?” When we are all sitting in the same room, leaning toward each other, we listen not only to what the speaker is saying, but also the position and movement of their body in relation to ours. The vibrant and chaotic energy of being in physical community with others simply does not translate to The Brady Bunch boxes on the screen.

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But these are not ordinary times. Although our experiences of isolation, fear and grief are all different, they remind us of our continued need for community. Despite navigating this new technological terrain, despite moving from a soundproof studio to a clothes-filled closet, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to listen to these stories and be a part of this community. As I look at the array of faces alternatively yawning and laughing from the intimacy of their bedrooms, living rooms and makeshift workspaces across the city, I am comforted that my face is one of many facing the uncertainty of what lies ahead, separately but together.


A Community Found at NAAM

Izaiha E.

Winter/Spring 2020

I am not originally from the Seattle area. In fact, I am from the entire opposite of the country, the east coast, and before I came to college at the UW I did not know what to expect. Aside from differences in geography, I quickly found out that things like racism and microaggressions were not absent in the utopia of the PNW; instead, they just looked different. The passive aggressive nature that permeated throughout the Seattle area bred comments composed of latent racism that I was keenly aware of, yet ignorant of the tools I could use to dispel the harm that was meant to be done-or, in some cases, the harm that was meant without ill intention.

Having the opportunity to be a part of the Interrupting Privilege sessions at the Northwest African American Museum was an experience that gave me all the tools I needed and more. What was apparent to me throughout our sessions was the extent to which the multiple generations in the room, all within people who belong to the Black community, embraced one another’s experiences, viewpoints, and stories. Each member of the community we built at NAAM was ready and willing to be vulnerable and share how they felt about topics that were related to race. The space was also inviting and encouraged discussions surrounding how to combat harmful situations and rhetoric in healthy ways that continue to create dialogue.

Truthfully, I struggled to find the Black community in Seattle when I first moved. Through our sessions, I was comforted knowing that there were people like me in the area and that there was a community space for all of us to gather and discuss together. Through the careful and intensive conversations had with one another, I feel I have learned so much from each individual that was a part of the journey we all took together. The passionate young high school students from Garfield were eager to talk about what they see in the community and in their classrooms each day, and the wisdom and presence of the elders was both grounding and insightful.

We see members of the Black community in the news, often for heinous crimes committed against them, and Interrupting Privilege gave me a sense of community that is rarely found so easily. Instead of seeing images of Black people strewn across screens accompanied by words of remembrance, I entered NAAM knowing I would see Black people in the Seattle community come together. I was happy to enter a space where Black people could engage in open dialogue regarding issues that impacted our lives and communities. I felt each session cathartic and insightful, as the thoughts of everyone provided the space for me to reflect on and share my own. For such a great opportunity I am deeply thankful.


What’s The Future without Discussing History?

By KyRi Miller

Winter/Spring 2020

The discussions that we have during tour Interrupting Privilege sessions would not have been what they were if it was not for the history that has happened in this world. The things that have happened in the past have such a heavy and sometimes negative effect on people. That’s what makes the conversations today so much more worth it, personal and meaningful: they hold such a sensitive topic.

During recent years racial discussions have become the talk of the century simply because of how negative it is. When hearing that another black person has to go through police brutality black people take it so personally because this history has never stopped. Topics like these have never been a positive, so that is what makes these conversations so much more powerful is that they all hold a personal connection to the challenges and struggles a black person may face.

Racial conversations like this can hold so much tension, not with the people participating in the conversation, but with the emotions and feelings that person has while speaking. The future of the conversation would not be as major as it could be without the discussion of history. If it was not for history the future would not have anything to look forward to, to appreciate, to learn because history is what made people want something new. The same thing with conversations: if it were not for the controversial things that happened, then the conversations not would not be the same whatsoever. So the next time you think of the future try to imagine what it would be like without the history and those informational historic lessons.

When we have a conversation now we often have to be careful of what we say during the conversation simply because of the topic. Nobody wants to be offended or triggered when speaking about a topic that especially relates to them. It’s already bad enough that we are having the conversation in the first place, considering how the historical events played out so for someone to say the wrong thing without clearing it up or giving an explanation would leave the person with more anger and even more hurt than before the conversation was even brought up. So with that being said, sometimes history can also affect how responses would be listened to and interpreted.

Color Silence brings Color Violence

Darius Presley

Winter/Spring 2020

This is a tragedy: Ahmaud Arbery, a 26-year-old male, while on a run, was chased down, shot and murdered in broad day light because two white males believed he was dangerous. I, myself, a black man, enjoy going on a run around my neighborhood and even more so now during our pandemic state. I always wear bright red running tights and a purple University of Washington t-shirt so that I’m not suspected of doing anything other than running. But clearly these efforts will do nothing to save me. After a lot of surfing through social media and reading comments between many different people of different backgrounds, I’ve thought a lot about how much white people believe they’re doing their part in eliminating white supremacy in the U.S. but are nervous to teach their children about race for fear that teaching them about race will make them racist. But I believe it to be the opposite effect.

I hope I’m not alone when I say that being the first person of color a white child sees can be a very uncomfortable, awkward and unsettling experience for all participants involved, though it doesn’t need to be. A few summers ago, while I was walking around downtown Seattle, a young boy no older than 6 years old, pointed to me and asked his mom “Why is he so dirty?” Now, I promise you I was freshly showered, although it was a warm day, I wasn’t nearly a sweaty as I could’ve been, so I knew he was referring to my skin just the way it is. This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened to me, but it stands out to me because of how his mother handled the situation. She swiftly pushed his hand down and quickly said “We don’t point!” as she instantly walked away, obviously embarrassed of what her son had said. He didn’t do any harm; he was just a child who had most likely never seen a person of color, and who was curious about why our skin looks different. I understand how embarrassing it must be for a parent to endure all the interesting things that come into a child’s mind; I’m also not assuming that the parent didn’t educate their child once I wasn’t around. However, I want to urge people to step out of their comfort zones and talk about race with their children, especially white children. The power to communicate about race can be extremely valuable and save an innocent life. Exemplified by the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery who on February 23rd, 2020, lost his life because he wasn’t given the right he deserved to live freely as a black man.

A societal constant need to dismiss and invalidate African American’s existence.

By Lewam

Winter/Spring 2020

There is no doubt that white privilege runs deep in America’s veins and African American people are so tired and fed up with having to explain the anger that is carried and the self-hatred that is rooted in the black community. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, racism, and discrimination towards Asian people were out of control; it even went as far as death threats and everyone was speaking out against it and how the Coronavirus neither means Asian people nor it is their fault. Even celebrities were speaking out and standing up. Black women were infuriated and outraged with the racist comments other minorities were receiving but not too far from that, black people were dying of COVID 19 more than any other race. ‘Mulan’ star Tzi Ma recalls racist attack, advocates for others to #WashTheHate | GMA Digital There was a wave of silence from everyone, and not a single person spoke up about the discrimination that black people were exposed to in china. I bring up the point that black women speak up against this horrible racism towards the Asian community because I feel like black people, especially black women, speak up for other minorities in solidarity, but when the table is turned and it is black people that need solidarity and allies from other minorities we experience pure silence when the videos of black people getting brutally beat up by a bunch of Asian people, the African American/black community did not, in fact, get any solidarity from any Asian people, and no celebrities were speaking up against it. When the Asian community was getting harassed, celebrities like Daniel Dae Kim (he is an Asian American actor, producer, and voice actor) made a video on his Instagram about how he is better and recovering from the COVID 19 but he also spoke up about the discrimination Asian people were facing. I got that he is speaking for his community and I support that and him but I always see other minorities protect their people and they don’t get any backlash for it but when it is black men or black people, in general, speaking up for their community, it is always racist and “ other minorities get discriminated against too.” It is like for black people to speak up for their people and to protect their women/people the black community needs to ask for permission or like justify or explain why. Why don’t other groups help African American people out? Why can’t we have solidarity and when we do it is not real or it is beneficial.