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What Is Expected of “Straight White Men”?

As subject matter learners, we value any opportunity to learn from new experiences and perspectives. So last Friday our team saw Straight White Men, Broadway’s first play written by a Korean-American woman, Young Jean Lee

PML team takes a selfie at "Straight White Men."
PML team takes a selfie at “Straight White Men.”

The play’s title has an ironic draw. It’s simple and says exactly what you need to know — this show is about straight, white men. And the performance follows suit.

When the show opens we are greeted by two chorus characters — one transgender, Native person and one gender non-conforming white person named Person in Charge 1 and 2, respectively. They are, as their names suggest, “in charge” of the action onstage. These characters serve as buffers for what might be triggering or uncomfortable content for audience members who aren’t straight, white men. Person In Charge 1 and 2 feel familiar and, despite their complex identities, more relatable than the title characters.

The principal characters, Jake, Drew, and Matt, are all brothers visiting home for Christmas with their father, Ed. They spend time reminiscing over their childhood, recalling moments of radicalism and protest while playing an amended version of Monopoly, developed by their mother, called “Privilege.” We get a sense that this family is “liberal” in that they believe (at least on the surface) in liberal ideals. But as the action unfolds, so does the facade of those liberal ideals.

During an intimate Christmas Eve dinner, Matt breaks into tears — an awkward and unfamiliar experience for the family. This moment looms over them into the next day, leaving everyone unsettled, especially Drew who insists that Matt seek therapy. Everyone has an answer to Matt’s problem: money, insecurity, depression. Matt’s answer is simple: he wants to be useful.

Ed, Jake, Drew and Matt enjoy Christmas Eve dinner
Ed, Jake, Drew and Matt (left to right) enjoy Christmas Eve dinner.

At the core of the production’s story is a discussion of expectations. What is expected of white men? What does accomplishment look like for white men? What destiny is chosen for these characters and for people who look like them? And does failure to meet those expectations decrease their worth?

Lee leads the same way Point Made Learning does — with empathy. While this play challenges the privileges of white manhood, it also exposes the dangers. White men, at least the archetypal white man, benefit from the various systems of oppression designed by and for them. The assumption is that they live without injury. Lee challenges that assumption by suggesting that white men face at least one difficulty: themselves. Matt does not get to choose his destiny, though the privileges of his whiteness, education, and wealth create the illusion that he has self-determination. His destiny (or expectation) is that of the other straight, white men before him — to conquer whatever space he enters. But Matt does not want that, and his family, noticeably missing its matriarch, cannot reconcile his decision or lack thereof. Why wouldn’t he use his privilege to his advantage? Why wouldn’t he participate in white supremacy? Those are their expectations of him and other straight, white men for that matter. But Lee asks another question: are all white men the same?

Marginalized people may find this question difficult to answer. Why should we use our energy to consider the dilemma of white manhood? It’s unfair, and that feeling of inequity lingers after the show closes. But in an era of quick judgement and harsh consequences, Lee looks for a middle ground: an understanding. Where is the empathy?

In the end, there is no clear answer. It is — to borrow a term from Jennifer Yim, one of our mentors and partners — “deceptively simple.” On one hand, Young Jean Lee’s writing and Anna D. Shapiro’s direction leave little to the imagination. Everything is simple, like the play’s title. But there’s also an irony to its simplicity. It makes you wonder why it was so easy. And that maybe it was not so simple at all. There may not be an answer but we can at least commit to learning more.

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Since when is a human being “illegal”?

Like so many of you (I presume!), I’ve been heartbroken and outraged while reading and listening to news reports all week about the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” immigration policy that calls for separating incoming migrant children from their parents. There was the glimpse inside the Casa Padre facility that’s been housing detained children inside a former Walmart. Then the announcement that the administration will erect tent cities to house more migrant children. And then there was Jeff Sessions’ use of a Bible verse to try and justify these actions.

If you’ve been trying to figure out what you can do about all of this, here are some suggestions for specific actions you can take.

The Racist History of Illegal Immigration

Today, the president is speaking at a roundtable discussion on immigration, where his signature overt racism will surely be on full display. That racism isn't just a Trump thing—it's been part of the discussion on "illegal immigration" for decades.

Posted by Racist History on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

When did we start calling people “illegal” Anyway?

Aside from the fact that this policy of separating children and parents is so completely unconscionable, I have also been cringing every time I hear an administration official or spokesperson use the term “illegal immigrants.” Which is why I was really grateful to see this video from Racist History on my Facebook timeline looking back to when we first started using the term “illegal” to describe human beings immigrating to the U.S. It’s only 3 minutes long and worth watching to better understand where we’ve gone wrong with immigration.

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Becoming Racially Literate

This TEDWomen Talk isn’t new, but it is new to us, and as soon as we watched it, we couldn’t wait to share. As high school students in Princeton, NJ, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo realized they didn’t really understand racism. And so they set off on a journey to ask Americans across the country about their personal experiences with race and racism. What these two young women began to realize is that we can’t, as a nation, build our racial literacy until we close two critical gaps. As they explain in the video:

 “First, the HEART gap, an inability to understand each of our experiences, to fiercely and unapologetically be compassionate beyond lip service. And second, the MIND gap, an inability to understand the larger systemic ways in which racism operates.”

Watch the whole video to not only learn more about their project, but to feel inspired by their passion and ideas.

Understanding racism requires an empathetic approach to learning that enables honest discussions with people unlike us, particularly within marginalized groups. Then, we can look to history and research for concrete examples of institutionalized racism and how it marginalizes people on varying levels.

In our workshops at Point Made Learning, we offer “Guiding Lights” for participants looking to engage in more productive discussions about race. We start with, “Ask questions with genuine curiosity, not judgment.”From there, you can open both your heart AND your mind.

Ask questions with curiosity, not judgment

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Bias and Racism: Let’s Talk About What’s Brewing


Point Made Learning asks all communities to talk about bias and racism on May 29.


NEW YORK, NY (May 22, 2018) –  On May 29th — the same day that Starbucks will close 8,000 of its stores for employee racial-bias training — Point Made Learning (PML) is inviting individuals and institutions to participate in Bias and Racism: Let’s Talk about What’s Been Brewing, a day-long event designed to provide a framework for meaningful, informative, and constructive dialogue on race.

A Community Effort

Recognizing that interrupting racism will require entire communities to come together, PML is staging the Let’s Talk about What’s Been Brewing event to get individuals throughout the U.S., and not just Starbucks employees, to carve out time on May 29 to learn more about racial bias and then gather a group of peers, friends, or colleagues together to talk about it.  

“We’re asking people to acknowledge the fact that the recent incident at Starbucks isn’t just a Starbucks issue. Racism in America is something we all need to address,” said Catherine Wigginton Greene, PML’s Executive Director of Content and Engagement. “So let’s use May 29 as an opportunity to brew our own coffee and engage in healthy dialogue about how we can make some real change.”

What to Expect

For the event, PML’s workshop facilitation team will host Facebook Live discussions throughout the day. In addition, PML will provide conversation prompts and guidelines, an action-plan toolkit, and resources for further learning to support discussion groups forming across the country. All content, tools, and resources will be available online beginning at 6AM EST on Tuesday, May 29, through 6AM EST on Wednesday, May 30.

Join the event on May 29th at https://pointmadelearning.com/notjuststarbucks (event has passed)

What We Do

Point Made Learning uses documentary film to facilitate productive discussions around the most uncomfortable topics we face in American society – starting with racism. We’ve taken an innovative approach to raising awareness and organizing communities through our unique combination of storytelling, real talk, and digital tools. We tell true stories and teach powerful lessons about race and racism. We believe true stories can strengthen human connections and inspire change.


If you would like more information, please contact:

Name:  Lisa Flores

Email: Lisa@FloresDigital.com

Understanding Orientalism and More We Learned

Black Students Marched Against Gun Violence in Florida, But You Likely Didn’t Hear About It

Think critically about the ways we look at protest; why #NeverAgain and not #BlackLivesMatter? Why are the organizers of the former lauded as the leaders of a generation while the latter are deemed terrorists? Gun reform must be intersectional. The conversation must include a discussion about race and how gun violence disproportionately affects people of color. And why concern for that violence is only heard in an echo chamber of the folks who regularly experience that violence.

‘Like Stoneman Douglas, if they can … let their voices be heard, why can’t we do the same and let our voices be heard?.. Why can’t we do the same thing? It’s because we’re black? It’s because we’re in the ghetto … because we’re poor … and they’re richer? I don’t understand.’

We scorned addicts when they were black. It is different now that they are white.

The American Opioid Crisis has energized legislators and leaders in medicine to detach archaic opinions of morality from the conversation of drug addiction. Instead, they are focused on addiction as a medical condition and have made strides in providing appropriate care for drug dependent individuals, particularly for opioid dependent people. This changing tide in opinion about addiction differs greatly from that of the 1980s and 1990s during the height of America’s crack-cocaine crisis. That crisis primarily affected black people and the response to treating those addictions was to incarcerate and demonize an entire generation of people.

Though the difference in response to each crisis may not surprise some, this article digs into the qualities that make one crisis an issue of health and the other an issue of criminality.

Orientalism Is Alive and Well In American Cinema

Asian and Asian-American representation has only scratched the surface of American media. As characters begin to permeate film and television, we must continue to criticize the way Asian characters are portrayed. Orientalism refers to a colonial or otherwise Western representation of Asian cultures, particularly East Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Snake charmers, for example, are classic caricatures in the Western

"The Snake Charmer", Jean -Leon Gerome, 1879
“The Snake Charmer”, Jean -Leon Gerome, 1879

Orientalist lexicon. Suffice it to say, representation begins with authenticity and truth. And in that vein, the author argues that Asian artists should have the agency to tell their own stories without the voices and perspectives of oppressive powers. 

[tweetshareinline tweet=”Orientalism surfaces in the New Age commodification of Eastern spirituality, in the predilection to glom separate cultures into a blurry whole…” username=”PM_Learn”]

What can ‘The Simpsons’ do About Apu? A lot, actually.

Similarly, comedian Hari Kondabolu challenges representations of South Asian men, through the lens of The Simpsons character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. His documentary, “The Problem With Apu”, unpacks the power of seeing a South Asian character represented for the first time on national television and the subsequent manipulation of that power to further marginalize the community Apu reflects.

“…the creators and writers of “The Simpsons,” like the rest of us, have a responsibility to upgrade and evolve their characters to align with cultural norms of the day. Tokenized stereotypes won’t cut it for an emerging generation that is demanding full and equal representation.”

Here’s what we read and watched this past week to stay informed about issues of equity and identity. Resources this week look at corporate diversity programming, the NAACP travel advisory for American Airlines, students voices, and post- #MeToo actions. Plus, an incredible movie on Netflix you won’t want to miss.

From Barb Lee

This Simple Chart Will Get You To Rethink Your Diversity Program

Chart identifying the diversity and inclusion matrix
Corporate diversity and inclusion matrix.

I think this is a super smart chart with some extremely useful strategies for telling the truth about diversity in our workplaces.

Harassment Is Rampant at Startups, and Few Have Diversity Plans, Study Finds

According to a study published by First Round Capital, half of technology entrepreneurs reported that they have been harassed themselves in the workplace or they know someone who has been harassed. That’s not all that surprising. But what’s disappointing is that these companies don’t seem to be addressing this from an institutional level. Despite all the talk about tech companies getting better at diversity and inclusion, only 17 percent of startups have actually put any kind of formal strategy in place. We think our American Dream Experience – a life size board game that looks at issues of intersectional identity and inequity – would be a great start.

NAACP says American Airlines Has Made Progress, but Travel Advisory Remains

This article made me wonder about why some companies hire diversity consulting groups to begin with. Do they want to do what’s right or what is right for the bottom line?

Haywood High School Student Protest Sparked by Racially Charged Social Media Posts

These students stood up for themselves, peacefully. I admire their fortitude.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

The #MeToo Backlash Is Already Here. This Is How We Stop It.

As Melissa Harris-Perry points out in this article, “Feminism” is Merriam Webster’s word of the year. This is no doubt due to the Women’s March last January and the wave of high-profile sexual harassment and assault allegations we’ve been hearing on a near-daily basis since October. This is all good stuff, but where do we go from here? Harris-Perry writes that “individual retribution is not institutional justice.” And she then proposes an incredibly innovative path forward that can lead to meaningful change.

This is one of the best articles I’ve read since the Weinstein story broke last fall.

From Lenny Walker


Don’t miss this powerful Netflix Original film:

“Two Mississippi families — one black, one white — confront the brutal realities of prejudice, farming and friendship in a divided World War II era.”

Here’s what we read and listened to this week to stay informed about issues or equity and identity – everything from a new study showing how we should approach changing minds to the ways racism infects our health, our children’s literature, and even our comic books! Keep reading to learn about what we learned this week.

From Barb Lee

Racism Is Damaging Our Health

There are many research studies that have confirmed this, but here is the latest and the data is clear. This audio file has Harvard researcher David Williams laying down the national data (not sample data) about race in the U.S. Here’s one striking data point: In the top 171 major cities in the U.S., not a single one had the majority of whites living under the same residential quality as that of blacks. Furthermore, the worst conditions for whites were still better than the worst conditions for blacks. I had to stop the recording, rewind, and play again several times because this presentation was so chock full of important data points. The good news is, he’s suggesting solutions for change, too!  I felt inspired – instead of only bummed out – by this.

Dr. Seuss? No!

Racism Revealed in Dr. Seuss’ Work

Cover image of The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Racism in our favorite Dr. Seuss books? No!

Uh oh. This is going to p*ss some people off!!  “What?!  Now, Dr. Seuss is a racist?!  Come on!”  This is an interesting article about a book that will tear at some of our most nostalgic memories and nobody likes anyone who does that. It’s hard to reframe and re-contextualize good memories with the racism that was clearly infused in everything around us.

I remember when I first went back as an adult to read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to my then young daughter. I was shocked by the casual colonial interactions of Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loopas. Noooo! Not Willy Wonka! I love that book. It was the first book I remember my mom reading to me and I have such rare and wonderful memories associated with the story of Mr. Wonka and all those kids and parents… and the Oompa Loompas, too. In fact, I still have that very book on one of my book shelves with other cherished children’s novels.

But I have to be honest about it. Then, I can extract all the good, recognize the bad and, most importantly, not perpetuate it with the next generation. I read the book to my daughter and introduced the concepts of colonialism and paternalism. She was young, but she understood what those concepts mean. We all do.

Majority of White Americans Feel Discriminated Against Because of Their Race and Some Say They Lose Out On Jobs Because of It

This research helps inspire me to continue teaching people about the difference between personal bigotry and institutional racism. And, I’m reminded of the saying, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

All Muslims are often blamed for single acts of terror. Psychology explains how to stop it.

We posted this on Facebook this week, but it’s worth posting here again because it’s so in line with the work we try and do in our workshops. We see over and over again how so many Americans and the media blame all Muslims for one individual’s act of terror. Moreover, we never do the same with all white people when one white man commits a mass shooting. So how do we try to interrupt this dangerous pattern? First of all, we can point out the hypocrisy when we see people doing this. This Vox piece details a new study showing how effective that tactic is for changing minds and hearts (in that order!) If you’re looking for the most effective ways to shift perspectives, do not miss this fascinating article.

From Deionna Wilburn

New Marvel Comics EIC C.B. Cebulski Admits He Wrote As “Akira Yoshida” 13 Years Ago

The new Editor-in-Chief for Marvel Comics wrote on his twitter feed yesterday, “Breaking into, and staying in, comics, in any capacity, is just as much about attitude as it is about ability.”  By attitude and ability, I’m assuming Cebulski means being a white man, but pretending to be a Japanese comic book writer by the name of Akira Yoshida. What’s most infuriating, Cebulski defrauded Marvel and his audience from 2005 to 2006 – even creating an elaborate backstory for the fictional Japanese man during a time when Marvel claimed to be actively looking for diversity in their writers. In the article, Cebulski is unapologetic and seems almost completely unbothered. And why shouldn’t he be? Again, he’s Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief.

More From Barb Lee!

White Racism Course Sparks Controversy at Florida Gulf Coast University

You can’t judge a book by its title and you can’t judge a course by its title, either.  My only issue is that the professor doesn’t need the word “white” in the title – not in the U.S.

Corporate America: Get Ready for Trans Employees

We aren’t even CLOSE to ready!

Racism Is Stopping Black Men From Solving Our Nursing Shortage

Any human being who has the skills to be a nurse should run to nursing school now. The contributions of good, skilled nurses is immeasurable. I was reminded of this fact this summer when my daughter was hospitalized for a major surgery. Because the humanity involved in being a nurse transcends any racial category, we should embrace any human being who can do this job.

Photo of Andre Lee and Barb Lee having a discussion.
Point Made Learning team members showing how you do productive dialogue!

Come holiday season, we often brace ourselves as we prepare to step outside of our bubbles and break bread with friends and relatives whose beliefs we find… problematic. This year, we’re seeing this as an opportunity to engage in and model productive dialogue.

Doing this with loved ones can be even harder than doing it with the rest of the world. So, we can think of it as training. [tweetshareinline tweet=”We’re not going to bite our tongues just for the sake of keeping things even-Steven at the dinner table.” username=”PM_Learn”]

If you want to give this a try, we’ve got a few tactics we rely on when we facilitate our workshops. These Guiding Principles help in everyday conversations, too.

And we’re not the only ones who have this on our minds this week. So we’re also providing you with a few resources we’ve come across from some of the writers and organizations we continue to learn from.

We hope this helps and feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!


Try to avoid the term “racist.”

Or “sexist,” “homophobe,” etc. This is a hard one because one of these might be the exact term to describe whatever comments you’re hearing from your aunt’s new boyfriend (We even have a film with “Racist” in the title!). And these may be so offensive that the only thing you can do is declare, “That’s racist!” And then walk away. BUT… If you’re hoping to make some headway with a family member you really care about, that’s going to stop the conversation. You may feel some temporary self-satisfaction at calling that person out, but it’s not very effective. Instead, try this…

Ask Questions

[tweetshareinline tweet=”Put the responsibility on the other person to explain or justify what they’ve said.” username=”PM_Learn”] This works especially well when someone makes generalizations or stereotypes. These will usually fall apart with just a few critical questions like:

“What makes you say that?”

“When you say, ‘they all…’, who is ‘they’?”

“What in your experience has given you that opinion?”

“Can you tell me a little more about why you said that?”

And if you can muster all your energy to ask these questions with a tone of curiosity, instead of judgment or disgust, they will work that much better. Look, we didn’t say this would be easy!

Don’t try to win an argument.

If, at Thanksgiving dinner, your Uncle Bob has just declared that all men are under attack in the workplace in the midst of all these sexual harassment and assault allegations in the news, you’re probably not going to convince him otherwise that particular evening. Nor will you be able to teach him about the history and continued prevalence of sexism, misogyny, and toxic masculinity. So, again, if your intention is to be effective, then start out slowly. Meet him where he is. And ask questions.

When I hear comments like that, I usually try something like, “Interesting (it works to say something validating first!). I’ve heard that perspective, but I don’t quite understand why men would feel that way. Can you help me understand your point?”

Then, “Ok, thanks for that. I have a different take on it. Are you open to hearing an alternative perspective?”

If he says, “Sure,” then you get a turn!

If he says, “No.” Well, then, don’t waste your breath and go pour yourself another glass of wine or have a second helping of pie. You’ll have earned it – you didn’t let the offensive comments go unchecked and you maintained your sanity.

Here’s one other thing I make sure to do in these instances: If my kids have had to hear anything ignorant or offensive, I take some time to have a longer conversation with them.

Repeat the other person’s point.

If you do find yourself engaged in a heated discussion or full-blown argument, you’ll probably feel like the other person isn’t really hearing you (they’ll feel the same way about you, by the way). As a last-ditch effort, try stating the other person’s point in your own words: “Ok, I want to make sure I understand your point. I think what you’re saying is…” Give them time to clarify. Then ask them if they can do the same for you. You will likely both still disagree with one another in that moment, but there’s always a chance that later, when they are on their own and not trying to double down or save face in front of other people (in other words, protecting their ego), you may have planted a seed in their minds.

OK, that’s it – these are the four principles we try to rely on when trying to have productive conversations. Now here are some other resources we’ve found to be really helpful…

Should You Even Speak Up At All?

Can You Stay Civil By Keeping Quiet? – NPR

“When a tough topic comes up around a table of friends and family, it’s all too easy to take a deep breath and hold it in. Instead of staring down a contentious cousin, it might feel safer to stare at your phone, just to avoid that political debate you’re dreading. But civility and conversation can lead to better relationships, greater creativity and boost the economy.”

Justice Lens

Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving – Border Crossers

Our friends at Border Crossers put together this list of books, lessons, videos, and more. Incredible resource for educators and parents who are ready to rear children through a justice lens.

Know Your History

Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong – NY Times

This came our way from our friend – author-speaker-activist Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. From the piece:

“Not to rain on our Thanksgiving Day parade, but the story of the first Thanksgiving, as most Americans have been taught it, is not exactly accurate.”

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good meal, practice gratitude, and spend time with loved ones. But don’t you want to know the real history?

Zen Zone

How to Talk with Your Relatives Over the Holidays – On Being

This article from columnist Sharon Salzberg, an author and meditation teacher, will help you find some calm and grounding as you engage in discussions.

A Little Humor Helps

Nation’s Uncles Enter Last Stage of Prep for Thursday’s Thanksgiving Debates – The Onion

Because we have to have a laugh sometimes.

We know there are so many resources on the topics of race, identity, antiracism, and equity that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing each week a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps and feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

How America Spreads the Disease that is Racism by not Confronting Racist Family Members and Friends

Scale showing ranges of racist beliefs and behavior. We've learned we can't think of racism in binary terms; it's a spectrum.
Racism Scale: Where do you fall? We’ve learned over the years that we can’t think of racism in binary terms (you’re either racist or you’re not). Source: https://racismscale.weebly.com/

I think the chart in this article says so much. And the author reminds us that we have to stand up at all times and all the time. I definitely had to check my own conscience. I remember a specific time when I was a guest at another family member’s house. Their grandfather, who was in his 90s, made a hateful comment and I didn’t take a stand. Should I have ruined Easter? You bet I should have. Instead, those family members have memories of a nice family gathering and I have memories of when I didn’t have personal integrity.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

This American Life – White Haze
I’ve been getting caught up on This American Life. This episode – White Haze – aired in September, but it’s still timely and relevant. In the wake of the events in Charlottesville last August, the episode’s producers dive in to right-wing and white supremacist organizations. The revelations in the first act are disturbing and, at times, just plain bizarre. In the second act, producer Robyn Semien interviews Jason Kessler, the man who organized the Charlottesville rally. It was one of those stories I stayed in my car to finish, even though I was already home. And I found the ending to be chilling.

This episode wasn’t just some look inside a freak show for me. I found it a necessary glimpse into the mindset of the people involved in these types of groups – especially because most of them say they aren’t racist. As producer Robyn Semien concludes, these aren’t people who are trying to hold on to their power; they actually don’t believe they have any. And they’re out to get it. Facing people who feel they have nothing to lose is a much different – and scarier – type of fight.

Radical Copyeditor
If you’re new to thinking about race and racism, this resource might not be the place to start. But if you’ve been at this for a while, and if you’re interested in the language we use when discussing issues of identity, check this site out. It completely speaks to the copyediting geek in me. And it presents incredible lessons about how to use language with more accuracy and inclusion. Check out the posts on Why it’s incredibly problematic to call white supremacists insane and Why we need to stop saying ‘politically correct’. These are just two of many insightful, easy-to-read, and incredibly instructive posts. This will now be a regular read for me!

From Sam Rosenthal

Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced
This GQ “Citizen of the Year” profile on Colin Kaepernick is remarkable for many reasons. But perhaps the most important reason is that Kaepernick doesn’t make a single on-the-record quote in the entire article. This is intentional. As the author of the article describes it: “As his public identity has begun to shift from football star to embattled activist, he has grown wise to the power of his silence.” Instead of an interview, the magazine has published a photo essay accompanied by powerful quotes about Kaepernick by those who know him.

It’s hard to put into words the feelings this video conjures, as a Jewish person and a human being. The woman being interviewed did not only survive Auschwitz, but also the horrific medical experiments performed by the infamous doctor Josef Mengele. In the video, she describes what happened to her and her family at Auschwitz, as well as her experience after the war. Ultimately, she got in touch with a different former Nazi doctor, and the two of them went back to Auschwitz together — he to apologize, and she to accept his apology. Her decision to forgive this man is a painful one for many Jews (she describes how the Holocaust survivors’ community ostracized her for doing it). But at heart, it is an incredible lesson on the healing power that forgiveness can have on one’s soul.
Each week, we want to share with you what we’ve learned. Because at Point Made Learning, when it comes to the topics of race, identity, and equity in the U.S., we are subject-matter learners. Not experts. In fact, we think these issues are so complex that the best any of us can hope for is to continue learning. As a team, we consistently challenge one another to stay curious and question our own thinking. That’s because we ask people in our screenings and workshops to do the same thing.
As much as we learned this week, we have so much to unlearn.
As much as we learned this week, there’s still so much to unlearn. As seen on an Upper West Side NYC sidewalk.

We know there are so many resources available that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps you continue learning, too. And feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

We’re All Mad Here: Weinstein, Women, and the Language of Lunacy

“He has demons.” The language of madness is the last resort for a society that can no longer deny the evidence of structural oppression and violence.

We have always used the word crazy to minimize people.  Now, it’s a way to explain things that really are about our values. I like this author’s voice of holding us accountable for what we say and what we do.

When I was nineteen years old, Elie Wiesel grabbed my ass.

It’s not just losing heroes. It’s that we have to see just how systemic issues of discrimination are in our society. They run deep and we all need to do some personal inventory to unlearn how to protect everyone and everything except the victim.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

A new survey shows white millennials think a lot more like whites than millennials

We’ve noticed over the past several years at our workshops that younger generations aren’t quite the antiracist superheroes they’re often made out to be. We older folks like to leave progress up to “the next generation” as if they’re magically going to know how to deconstruct systems of oppression. That can’t happen if we don’t have important conversations, dig in to expert analysis, and really start to change the laws, policies, and practices that fuel oppression.

But here’s another problem: If more white people don’t look deeper within ourselves to get clear on our biases and blind spots, then we won’t find the motivation to participate in antiracism work. This article highlights some key findings by a recent study: “The ‘Woke’ Generation?: Millenial Attitudes on Race in the US” and it’s pretty troubling. The question mark in the study title is the first clue. This is an important read to understand how much work needs to be done. We’ve got to work on building greater awareness AND bridging the chasm between how white people perceive race in the US and how people of color are experiencing it.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has an incredibly clear explanation for why white people shouldn’t use the n-word

To be perfectly forthcoming, I have a hard time finding patience anymore when people ask me at I’m Not Racist… Am I? screenings why white people can’t say the “N Word.” Young people, especially, want to know why they can’t say it when singing along to their favorite songs. Now I can point people toward this video. In it, Ta-Nehisi Coates responds to a question from a young woman looking for advice on how best to respond to that question. This is the best explanation I’ve ever heard and, of course, it’s about so much more than just who can/can’t say the “N Word.” We shared this over on our Facebook page earlier this week and it’s so incredibly brilliant in its simplicity and insight, that it’s worth sharing again. I encourage everyone to watch and share this.

The Democratic Party owes black female voters a big ‘thank you’

Yes to all of this! The Democratic party would be nowhere without black women voters – and not just their votes, but their contribution to analysis, policy, and organizing. And still, the party takes them for granted as a constituency while falling over itself to win over the white working class. This article provides a lot of compelling data on this week’s election results that prove how vital black women are to Democrats. The article ends with this critical point: “With the support of black women being a key piece of the Democratic Party’s Election Day successes, the question now is: Will the Democratic Party show its support for them?”

From Deionna Wilburn

Miscarriages in Flint: ‘I Really Believe It’s the Water’

Pollution and poverty are so prevalent in low-income communities of color that it boggles the mind. Flint, Michigan is back in the news because people want answers as to what exactly their water issues are doing to their bodies.


Implicit bias is real despite studies trying to diminish or outright debunk its effect on our daily lives. It appears that not only do I have to be wary of driving while black, but walking while black is now a thing, too. Sigh.

From Sam Rosenthal

If the Texas Church Shooter Wasn’t White

This article looks at how the Texas Church Shooter’s whiteness plays a critical role in how we view his violence. So far, authorities haven’t labeled Devin Patrick Kelley a terrorist. Moreover, white people as a whole haven’t been held responsible in any way for Kelley’s actions. If Kelley had been Muslim, Latino, or Black, however, this would likely be playing out very differently.

From Emily Martinez

How Temporary Work Visas Hurt Migrant Women

Migrant women joining the American workforce face a unique combination of obstacles. And this reality doesn’t appear to be improving anytime soon. We see this play out in our life-size version of the American Dream Board Game – one of the game’s characters just can’t get ahead or catch a break no matter what she does or what kind of help she’s offered. And while that’s just a game, the issue is very real. This article sheds important light on this under-reported issue.