WPCR workshops are the ongoing project of a group of facilitators. We believe that dismantling racism is a life-long process and, based on what we have learned from our workshops, one that is most successfully approached in community. Initially, all facilitators were white; over time, we have become a multi-racial group of diverse backgrounds. All of us were once students in the WPCR workshop and have gone on to take a role in facilitating the course. We meet monthly to build upon our experiences, improve the workshops, and share our abiding commitment to working with others to build our capacity to challenge racism and white privilege.
In alphabetical order by first name
Anne Romney is a lifelong learner and educator who took WPCR in the fall of 2017 and knew that anti-racism work was something she wanted to be part of in a meaningful way. With an M. Ed in counseling and a background in human resources, training, and group facilitation, becoming a WPCR co-facilitator was a natural step. Anne was first introduced to racial and gender awareness training in the 80’s as a corporate HR professional during the days of active affirmative action implementation. Over the past couple of years she has intensified her journey by exploring her own privileged white life experiences and is profoundly troubled about our racial history and present-day reality. Anne brings passion and commitment to this work and, by engaging with others who want to learn and take action to confront these enormous inequities, believes she can make a difference. As a facilitator her philosophy is that we all enter this journey from our own unique place—and that’s what makes each group a powerful learning community. Anne lives in Portsmouth, NH, and bringing WPCR to the Seacoast region became her Action Plan coming out of her first course in 2017. Read her June 2020 letter to the local paper here.
Barbara Beckwith is a white cisgender woman who was raised in racially isolated NY and NJ suburbs that had been regulated, by law and commercial practices, to insure they were all white. She had no teachers of color in K-12 nor at her New England college, where racial inequity was assumed to be caused by “the culture of poverty,” at the same time that Black Southerners were risking their livelihoods—and lives— to get access to libraries, schools, stores, buses and ballot boxes. She earned two graduate degrees, considered herself a progressive feminist, and co-led various “diversity” efforts. She could recognize even subtle dynamics of institutionalized sexism, but only by taking White People Challenging Racism in 2001 and attending annual White Privilege Conferences could she see her country’s equally “invisible” institutionalized racial inequity and take seriously her responsibility to help dismantle it. She is now committed to using her unearned privilege to press for racial equity in each sphere of her life, especially as a National Writers Union activist. As a writer, she reflects on everyday racism—including her own—in her What Was I Thinking series of essay booklets (www.cddbooks.com) She lives in Cambridge, MA. www.barbarabeckwith.net
Beth Hampson is an educator who has always brought a social justice perspective to her teaching. Beth first understood the inequality in American education as an undergraduate in Washington, DC. After graduating, she worked for Head Start coming face to face with systemic economic inequality. She supported poor, underserved families, preparing them for kindergarten. As a classroom teacher Beth developed curricula that asked students to take the perspective of the oppressed, teaching American colonialism from the perspective of Native Americans, for example. Beth currently works with schools to implement restorative justice. The current approach to discipline in most schools asks, “What rule was broken?” “Who broke the rule?” and “What is the consequence?” This approach creates a system of suspension, re-offense, and higher drop-out rates. Poor and minority students are disproportionately impacted by this approach. Restorative justice shifts the paradigm, asking rather, “Who was harmed?” “What do they need?” and “How can the harm be repaired?” This approach repairs relationships, supports victims and offenders, leads to fewer suspensions, reduces repeat offenses, builds relationships and tolerance, and results in less disruptive and bullying behavior, ultimately improving school climate. Beth lives in Melrose and is excited to work with WPCR as a co-facilitator.
Colin Stokes is a white cisgender man who was educated and began his professional life in elite white spaces that were built to reinforce the presumption of white supremacy. From Harvard to the theater, then from the non-profit education sector to the TEDx public speaking community, Colin has been successful with the help of a playing field rigged to advantage white men. Since 2015, he has been led to incorporate a gender and racial justice perspective into increasing aspects of his life, a journey reflected in his talks (especially “The White Lies We Tell Our Children”) and his writing (“White Heroism and Villainy at the Movies,” “La La Land, Moonlight, and Privilege”). In 2018, following a LeadBoston fellowship with YW Boston, he joined the staff of METCO, Inc., the voluntary school desegregation program founded by a multi-racial coalition of activists in 1966. He also began co-facilitating White People Challenging Racism workshops. He lives with his wife and children in the historically discriminatory white suburb of Brookline, Massachusetts. There, he supports Courageous Conversations within the All Saints Parish congregation and edits Breakthrough Brookline, the weekly newsletter of the Coalition to Eliminate Racism in Brookline.
Devon Davidson is fortunate to have spent her career working for social justice organizations as a peace activist, fundraiser, and community educator. She has actively promoted affirmative action and has been a racial justice educator for many years. She has also taught English to Students of Other Languages. Currently she is active in the sanctuary and immigrant rights movement. She has a BA with honors from Oberlin College and an MA from Brandeis University. She loves to travel and has lived for a year each in Paris and Barcelona and shorter periods of time in Oaxaca, Mexico. Devon identifies as a white woman.
Jane Appleyard Allen is a public health analyst who conducts research to develop and evaluate public health policy related tobacco and marijuana. She has a long-standing interest in health disparities, and the ways in which seemingly benign systems often produce different and less favorable results for people of color than for white people. Through her work she has been able to contribute to the scientific literature on the effectiveness of evaluation tools and public health mass media campaigns for populations of color. Jane is passionate about helping to build a movement for racial justice. She believes that movement must include a large and active population of white people, like herself, working as allies within their spheres of influence, with and accountable to people of color. Jane began co-facilitating in her hometown of Melrose, MA, in Fall 2015.
Jennifer Yanco grew up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Much later, she learned that it was a
sundown town; this was just one in an ongoing series of revelations about how deeply she is embedded in white supremacy—whether she likes it or not. As a white, cisgender woman, she is grateful to the People of Color in her life—friends and
colleagues who have generously shared their lived experience, analysis, and expertise, and had faith in her ability to do this work when I was most doubtful. Foremost among them was Tracy Gibbs, who encouraged her to develop the first White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action workshop series at CCAE in 1999. Since then, she has developed anti-racism curricula for schools and has partnered with colleagues of color to provide diversity/anti-racism training, as well as workshops on friendships and work partnerships that cross lines of race and ethnicity. She is inspired by countless people and in particular, Martin Luther King Jr. Her book about him, Misremembering Dr. King, was published in 2014 by Indiana University Press. She is a long-time resident of West Medford, in the greater Boston area.
Karen Blumenfeld identifies as white. Following the 2016 presidential election, she signed up for White People Challenging Racism (WPCR) hoping to better understand what was powering the upsurge in racism “out there.” Instead, WPCR invited her to examine the racism “in here.” Which is to say, the workshop asked her to examine her own stereotypes and assumptions about race, and to understand the many ways that being white has advantaged her life—from housing to employment, to education, to healthcare. Recognizing her responsibility as a white person to help dismantle racism, Karen has committed herself to anti-racism learning and action, and to facilitating other white people’s learning and action. Karen has worked in the environmental and health sectors in the U.S. and abroad. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She is an active volunteer with organizations serving system-involved youth.
Lavette Coney is an African American woman from Roxbury, MA, a predominantly Black and Brown neighborhood of Boston created by redlining, “urban renewal,” and economic divesting. As the neighborhood association president, she recognizes how the trauma of Black people continues through living with hazardous contaminants, gentrification after decades of decay, and political disenfranchisement. Lavette has been a co-facilitator since 2016 and is the current leader of WPCR. After years of anti-racist work, she recognized that racism is a White problem and a burden on our society. Ms. Coney has given numerous presentations, workshops, and lectures and her writing can be found in a number of scholarly journals, but her most recent work is featured in Social Justice in English Language Teaching, 2016. At present, she is working on an article about critical race pedagogy for TESOL Quarterly.
Mary Green is a white woman of colonial European descent, living in Wellesley, a predominantly white community created by redlining and other racist policies of exclusion on the unceded land of the Massachusett Nation. As a working class product of the segregated South, Mary thought she understood racism, oblivious to her white privilege, white supremacy and the maldistribution of resources. Taking WPCR for the first time in 2013 transformed her life and gave her a revolutionary perspective and framework to act on a long held belief that segregation and systemic racism were simply wrong. She has “moved from talk to action” as a committed volunteer in non-profit organizations that support social justice and progressive agendas, including Bridge Boston Charter School, Mass Bay Community College Multicultural Mentoring Program, World of Wellesley and WPCR. WPCR is the foundation for continuing her lifetime learning and active involvement in fighting systemic racism. She first co-led WPCR in 2016 and has trained to co-lead WPCR Part 2.
Melanie (Mel) Roche-Laputkais a white woman from predominantly white communities in Pennsylvania, created by redlining and racist policies of exclusion, including the creation of sundown towns. Melanie is actively involved in her neighborhood association and Vecindarios Unidos, a neighborhood group in East Boston. She is involved in both groups to support East Boston and her neighbors while also fighting the gentrification of East Boston. Melanie has been a co-facilitator since 2017. She personally engages in workshops and dialogues about white supremacy and racism. She has also led a number of presentations and workshops focused on equity and antiracism to support the professional growth of educators.
Michelle Chalmers is a white woman from predominantly white communities in the suburbs of Boston, created by redlining and racist policies of exclusion. Michelle intentionally volunteers with community organizations and boards, including the Wellesley housing authority, World of Wellesley, Wellesley A Better Chance and Friends of Wellesley METCO. Michelle has been a facilitator of White People Challenging Racism for 10 years and strives everyday to be an antiracist. Michelle engages in workshops, dialogues and conversations about white supremacy, race and racism and hopes to encourage white people to dig deeper, get uncomfortable and strive to be antiracist too. Michelle’s essay on the liabilities of white privilege, How White Privilege Hurts White People, is a pivotal turning point for her and she hopes it is for you too.
Shannon Fuller is a white, cisgender woman who has lived in Boston for more than 19 years. As a child, she lived in Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Maine. She and her family benefited from white privilege in all those locations, though young Shannon had very little concept of race or racism beyond the existence of overtly racist and physically violent individuals. Thanks to the patience and persistence of some activist friends, she became humbled enough in adulthood to be educated about the systemic racial inequities in this nation founded on patriarchy and colonialism. She came to realize that it is her responsibility, as a white person, to confront white supremacy and to give other white people the knowledge and sense of urgency to do the same. Shannon took WPCR for the first time in 2016 and began co-facilitating in 2017. She has a BA in Sustainability and is currently an economic mobility coach for young parents in the Boston area.
Stephen Pereira was born in Boston and currently lives in Brockton. After 32 years as an Arlington Public Schools administrator, he is now the President of Massachusetts Partnership for Diversity in Education and an adjunct faculty member of Empowering Multi-cultural Initiatives (EMI). He formerly served as President of the METCO Directors Association and is one of the longest-standing members of the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) Board of Directors. Steve is also sits on the Board of Directors for Community Change, Inc. (CCI) and the National Black Doll Museum in Mansfield. He holds a BA from Boston College and an M.Ed, from Antioch University. He is active in many local cultural, civic, political and professional organizations and in his time off, he enjoys traveling the world and relaxing on the nearest beach. He also loves music, is an avid automobile enthusiast, and bowls on a professional league. He took White People Challenging Racism in the winter 2012 and is now part of the co-facilitator group. He identifies as a person of color and as second-generation Cape Verdean American.
Beth Herman-Davis, EdD
Christine Stella Panzarella
Debby Kittredge Irving
Emily Forsyth Queen
Katherine Blake Gendron
Margaret Bad Warrior
Marian Leighton Levy
Natali (Tali) Freed
P. Stewart Lanier
Xóchitl (Xóchi – pronounced SO-tchee) Kountz