What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose. There are numerous sources of learning, once we commit to it, so that we can join in celebrating the achievements and contributions of Native Americans.
We must acknowledge that the land we inhabit was under the stewardship of Native Americans, who were massacred in huge numbers and displaced from their ancestral homes. You can begin your land acknowledgement process here.
Many indigenous folks believe that acknowledgements are tokenism, unless they are backed up by a serious plan for supportive action. Whether through return of land, voluntary land taxes, paying for needed systems of support, or showing up at protests - you can make a plan.
Offered most months, the Opening Conversation About Race, created by WRJI and facilitated by trained professionals, provides a brave and supported space for self-reflection and learning with other Wellesley Alums.
Anti-racism is a lifelong journey: this is an invitation to begin or to re-ignite your anti-racism work. Whether you are a BIPOC or a white Alum, we welcome your participation - to enter the dialogue, to advance your learning process, to form community, to enhance the struggle for racial justice. Feel free to join this conversation as many times as you wish - it's always new! Then advance your anti-racism journey with one of our 200-level and 300-level programs.
Have you missed out on important movie experiences - or watched them and wished for a place to discuss and look more deeply into their messages? WRJI Movie Nights are designed to provide Wellesley Alums with a brave and supportive space to do just that. We will watch the selected movie together on Zoom (some humorous, some serious; some documentary, some fiction), then discuss its themes and portrayals for an hour. Anyone who has recently seen the film is welcome to join us for the discussion only, in the final hour. We recommend but do not require, that participants join a WRJI Opening Conversation, if you have not previously participated in race-focused conversations.
Join other Wellesley Alums each month to discuss an explosion of books being published on the history and experiences of racism. Professionally led by avid reader and skilled facilitator, Fiona Oliphant, '93, third Sunday of every month. Deepen your understanding of the power of racism in America, its roots, prevalence, and ways to fight it - receiving professional guidance for your racial justice work. Each month we will explore themes and learn from one another's viewpoints. We recommend but do not require, that participants join a WRJI Opening Conversation, especially if you have not previously participated in frank conversations about racism, before attending.
A NEW! Next-Step Program, created and led by Tyree Oredein, '98.
While we shared Wellesley College, people of color often experience our alma mater in vastly different ways than their white classmates. Even in “women-centered spaces," white people can, intentionally or unintentionally, marginalize, dismiss and harm Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). In this workshop, we will discuss the intersections of race and gender, the resulting distribution of power and privilege, and how it impacts the dynamic within the Wellesley community.
A Next-Step Program, created by Fiona Oliphant, '93. Led by Tyree Oredein, '98, and Jessica Strauss, '77.
This interactive workshop is offered in alternation with Interrupting Racism,.
Intended for Alums to become more familiar with what it means to be an ally, this workshop introduces micro-aggressions, respectful intervention, effective ways to offer support, to collaborate, to plan and execute action with and in solidarity with BIPOC folx. In presentation and discussion, white alums will have the opportunity to challenge themselves. BIPOC are invited to ally with one another.
In collaboration with Dr Tyree Oredein '98, the facilitators of the WAAT class (White Alum Anti-racism Training) are offering a series of highly interactive sessions, in alternation with How To Be A Better Ally. These workshops focus on creating a brave space to practice interrupting racism. Through role-playing, participants will learn to address micro-aggressions and other all-too-common racist remarks, whether intentional or not. Please join us for any or all sessions to practice speaking up in the moment to stop further harm. All are welcome; white alums are especially encouraged to attend.
In response to requests from numerous graduates of our WAAT (White Anti-Racism Training) program, Katherine Jenkins Djom '03 and other WAAT leaders and participants will offer talks exploring issues relevant to the origins, the impact, and the eradication of white supremacy through both intellectual and somatic experiences. All are welcome; white alums are especially encouraged to attend, including former WAAT participants, who seek to take a deeper dive into these practices and topics, to advance their anti-racism journeys.
The White Alum Antiracism Training (WAAT) is recruiting for the 5th Cohort, which will meet Winter/ Spring 2023. The class consists of seven 3-hour sessions, scheduled 2 weeks apart, with intensive reading and writing assignments in between, culminating in the personal antiracism action plan. Each student also writes a racial awareness journey narrative and updates it throughout the course. WAAT is intended for those who have participated in the WRJI Opening Conversation, other WRJI programs, or have some other antiracism experience.
The mission of the WRJI is to actively promote racial justice in our national culture and practice, as well as the wider world community, advancing inclusion and eliminating systemic, institutional and internalized racism. We strive for four key goals: to educate, to amplify, to activate,
and to transform.
Our leaders are passionate about doing anti-racism work ourselves - together, in our families and communities, at work and in our own hearts. We move forward and back - taking on pieces of work as our busy lives permit, supported by one another, and our Executive Coordinator.
WRJI was born at Reunion 2017, when a small group raised the imperative to combat racism. We grew slowly for 3 years. In May of 2020, when the gruesome murder George Floyd amplified long-standing cries for anti-racism, Wellesley alums turned to WRJI; hundreds have participated in online programs since June 2020.
From September 2020 through September 2022, WRJI was led by one of its founders, Michele Leonard, '77, with unwavering passion and commitment. On October 1st, a new leader took the reins. Please welcome Nikki Fortes, '98, a dynamic WRJI leader. A 2021 recipient of the Black Excellence on the Hill Award from the City of Boston, Nikki has been a leader for decades of the fight for affordable housing amidst exploding gentrification. She embraced the EC position because she believes that, by helping Alums on their own personal racial justice journeys, WRJI can have a significant impact in communities across the country.