National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

White Privilege and Racism:
How White people “catch it”, how it manifests in our lives,
and what we can do about it
Nancy Arvold

ABSTRACT: This interactive workshop addresses the history of racism, models for understanding pervasive current racism, and discusses how it can be challenged it in the mental health system. Participants will learn a mindfulness practice, take part in an exercise in examining or “tracking” incidences involving racism, and examine White privilege.


The presentation will be an interactive workshop geared to both White people and People of Color who are concerned about White privilege and internalized White racism, particularly as it impacts serving or being individuals in the mental health care system.

The history of US racism will be briefly discussed, including why it was set in place and who benefited. The pervasiveness of racism today will be discussed, including the socio-economic-political system that maintains and benefits it. An alternative model to understanding systemic racism will be presented.

Three popular research models will be discussed, each of which provides a different view for discernment of subtle racism. These include “micro-aggressions” (Darryl Wing Sue), “implicit attitudes” (Harvard studies), and “back stage” racism (Joe Feagan).

Participants will be asked to examine instances of their own privilege or of those White people around them. They will participate in an exercise which will provide them with a tool to examine incidents involving race to tease out the racial and interacting “isms” in the incident. What White people need to confront in dealing with privilege and internalized racism will be examined.

Participants will be invited to participate in a mindfulness practice designed to support people as they address painful issues around racism and privilege.

There will be a final discussion on the importance of awareness of White privilege and racism in mental health, both from the perspective of the practitioner and the consumer. This will include how and where to have effective conversations around privilege and race with regard to how they impact treatment and recovery in mental health.


1) White participants will have more understanding of their internalized white racism and privilege.

2) Participants will have greater understanding of the history of racism and the socio-economic-political system that benefits and maintains it.

3) Participants will be familiar with three popular research models which examine subtle racism.

4) Participants will be able to “track” personal incidents around racism.

5) Participants will learn a mindfulness practice to support people engaged in deep examination of racism and privilege.

6) Participants will see possibilities for solidarity and action in the fight for equitable recovery and against racism and privilege as both consumers and practitioners