A community organizer and classroom teacher for 25 years, Debby Irving grappled with racial injustice without understanding racism as a systemic issue or her own whiteness as an obstacle to it. She will share her compelling story with us in a multimedia presentation.
As general manager of Boston’s Dance Umbrella and First Night, and later as an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Debby Irving struggled to make sense of tensions in racially mixed settings she could feel but could not explain. In 2009, Debby took a graduate school course, “Racial and Cultural Identities,” which gave her the answers she’d been looking for and helped launch her on a journey of discovery. Now, through leading workshops and presentations around the country, Debby devotes herself to exploring the impact white skin can have on perception and how individuals can help themselves and others change misconceptions and attitudes. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Her first book, Waking up White, tells the story of how she went from well-meaning to well-doing.
Waking up White is the book Debby Irving wishes someone had handed her decades ago. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As she unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she’s changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the racial justice movement as a whole. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt readers to explore their own racialized ideas. Waking up White's personal narrative is designed to work well as a rapid read, a book group book, or support reading for courses exploring racial and cultural issues.
This event is being co-sponsored with Temple Isaiah by six other Lexington congregations.Please read the book and tell your friends about Debby's upcoming visit.