Overdue Update

go w the flo big


Greetings from across the months! 

I can't believe my last post was May 18th. Actually, maybe I can. In contrast to the step-by-step marketing and blogging plan I'd expected to dutifully follow over the past months, a series of unexpected invitations have drawn me into new territory. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s to trust the process, regardless of how far off-plan it may appear to be. The many projects I’m involved in are just a sample of the growing movement to call white people to awareness and action.


A quick bit about the book, followed by the unexpected.


From the Winchester Country Club to the NAACP

Book Talks Here, There, and Everywhere

gray white hands

I’m amazed by the range of people finding Waking Up White useful. To give you an idea of what I mean, consider this: In July, a group of ten white men invited me to The Winchester (MA) Country Club. Truthfully, I expected resistance to my message. Instead, this group leaned in — hard. They invited a black cardiologist in town to join me to explore the concepts in my book and we spoke late into the evening. Two months later, I had the honor of being a keynote speaker at the New England NAACP chapters’ annual meeting. NAACP members have long known that white people waking up is a necessary part of dismantling racism. In one of the perverse twists of racism, however, white people hear that message better from other white people – hence NAACP enthusiasm to have my book and testimony as tools. I’m now a proud subscribing NAACP life member.


Racial & Cultural Identities

Summer Intensive Graduate School Course @ Wheelock College


Remember the course that woke me up? This summer I went through it again…as professor. What wowed me most was the level of knowledge students brought to the course. Unlike my cohort just six years ago, most had taken sophisticated sociology, identity politics, and other classes as undergrads. That said, no class had ever asked them to do the personal work. Reading their final papers was like reading 18 mini Waking Up books. Turns out I’m not the only one who sat in that class thinking, “I wish I’d known this stuff sooner! This should be taught in K-12 classrooms!” Thank you Wheelock College for this unique course.


A Courageous Conversation about White Supremacy, White Privilege, & Oppression

A Workshop Created by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. & Debby Irving

courage convo

Building on a workshop Dr. Moore had already created, the two of us collaborated to find a way to use our diverse (we could hardly come from two more different backgrounds!) experiences and perspectives to create a powerful co-exploration of how white supremacy operates. In May, we premiered the workshop at The National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) to a standing-room only crowd. We’ll present it later this month at The Summit for Courageous Conversations. After that, we are ready and eager to take it on the road!


Unity Flight 2014

A Play That Sparks A Community Conversation.

Directed by Lace Campbell. Written and performed by Norma Johnson & Debby Irving

awkward convo

I couldn’t say no to the chance to collaborate with these two awesome theater women! The show explores how to engage cross-racially when those inevitable awkward moments pop up. Though a performer I am not (at least not yet), I’m game to try just about anything to reach a new white audience in a new way, and this idea is a cool one. Using an airplane setting, the show features: a flight from Fear to Curiosity, two passengers, an intense conversation, Turbulence Tip Cards located beneath the seats, and an unforgettable pre-takeoff flight attendant speech. We have a sneak preview scheduled for November 8th in Cambridge before premiering it at Riverdale Country School in New York City a few days later. We’ll be looking to take it on the road in 2015.



A Motion Picture Drama by Samaria Graham, Christopher A. Brown & Debby Irving


Last April, when a team of black screenwriters reached out and asked me to join them, my response was, “A screenplay? I wouldn’t have a clue how to do that!” Six months, and 20+ writing sessions later, I’m hooked. The story revolves around a middle class Black family in New York City, and explores America’s Black Holocaust from both the black and white perspectives. Inheritance features fabulous characters, a multigenerational plot line, a dramatic plot twist, and hopefully some inspiration for reconciliation and healing. We hope to complete it in 2015 at which point we’ll shop it around.


21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge

An Action Plan Created by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. & Debby Irving

rusty action

A common response from white folks waking up is: “What can I do? Tell me what to do!” Dr. Moore and I’d been thinking about how to create an action plan to support this hue and cry when MTV called. Turns out they have an anti-bias campaign underway and wanted some kind of action plan to offer their audience. Check out the resulting Action Plan. Check out their Look Different campaign and #goodlook Twitter project. Better yet, TAKE THE CHALLENGE and let us know how it goes!


Less is More

BlogBursts Will Be My New Thing

less is more

One night, while lamenting to my friend Marta about how I’d taken on so much that I wasn’t keeping up with my blog posts, she gave me a cool idea. “Why don’t you just do one paragraph blogs? That’s what a lot of people really want anyway.” Hmmmm, ironic after I’ve just dumped this long update on you. Anyway, we’ll see if I can tame my chatty mind and deliver more frequent, though shorter, BlogBursts.


Please Support My Efforts!

Share my book, my website, and the many resources I offer on FaceBook, Twitter, and my Resource Page.

Bring one of my programs to your community and let us get the ball rolling…or back on track.


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9 thoughts on “Overdue Update”

  1. wow you have been busy.   its a good busy and the work is necessary.  perhaps you and dr. moore can present your 'workshop' here in boston and engage a greater, more diverse and inclusive audience — the mayor might be interested in supporting the work.   keep us apprised of any new developments!

    thank you for sharing


  2. HI Deb —

    You are coming to my Unitarian Society on Sat Nov 1 and the whole congregation is reading Waking up White!

    Barbara Deck

  3. Debby,

    How awesome for you and inspiring for the rest of us!  I hope you have many more such "detours" to derail your blogging plans.


  4. Hi Debby,

    Thanks for this!  Very intersting work you are doing! I really appreciate your sharing your resources and my being able to pass them on.


    All the best,


  5. What a blessing to hear from you. And now I know all about what you've been up to. Omygoodness! This is all unfolding in wonderful, much needed ways. Get ready with that second book printing. I've been telling lots of folks about it. Be well. I miss you. Ann

  6. Wow, what a busy time and full of such great results. Love all of the directions you have been going in.  I was thinking of you tonight when I heard Yusuf (Cat Stevens) being interviewed on the radio. I think his new album might be addressing white privledge. Will know more after his concert in a few weeks. Interesting, huh. Also, I like the idea of short paragraph blogs.

  7. Dear Debby,

    Wow, my Sister, wow!  What a fantastic and fabulous update, Debby!  You are doing just so great and excellent as the wonderful white woman who you are as an empowering white anti-racist ally and advocate in solidarity!  What great projects which you have mentioned in this fantabulous update!  I love how you came courageously before the country club with white men in your audience and how cool and great it is that they were receptive to what you so generously and graciously shared!  Just wonderful, sister! I love how you and the black cardiologist spoke for such a long time at the country club! I am absolutely thrilled that you are a lifetime member of our NAACP! Yay, Debby!  You continue to amaze me with all of your powerfullly productive, proactive, and efficient work!  I just know somehow in my mind's eye and when I pray how excellent you did as the great professor of the superb course which you taught, Debby!  I love your allyship with Dr. Eddie Moore and the super 21-Day Racial Equity Habit!  I love the idea of the Unity Flight 2014 and daringly and in an undaunted manner braving your way through those awkward moments and conversations which happen sometimes in a cross-racial context.  The screenplay entitled, Inheritance, sounds fantabulous!  Wow,  my sister, Debby, wow!  You are doing such great work!  Just such great and very fine and excellent work, Debby, my white sisterfriend!  You and the other hard working white anti-racists and allies in solidarity for always give me such an increased faith, hope, and positive optimism! Thank-you!!!!!!!

    Peace & Love & Very Warmly & Sincerely Always,

    Your lesbian black friend and sister in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

  8. you have found your sweet spot; or has the world found you?

    Really looking forward to seeing my sis on stage, screen & tube.

    Debby, just keep following your instincts; look where they have gotten you so far.


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