Nationally recognized racial justice educator, author to visit IU Northwest

Debby Irving, author of community reading program book ‘Waking up White,’ will host two workshops March 22

GARY, Ind. – Debby Irving, author and nationally recognized racial justice educator, is visiting Indiana University Northwest Wednesday, March 22, 2023, for a pair of workshops which will explore how to discuss race and gain tools to counter society’s history of power and privilege.

Irving’s book, Waking up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, is IU Northwest’s One Book, One Campus, One Community reading selection for the 2022-2023 academic year. Both workshops, co-sponsored by an Indiana Humanities INcommon Grant and the IU Northwest Diversity Advisory Council, are free and open to the public.

Waking up White shares some of Irving’s sometimes cringe-worthy struggles to understand racism and racial tensions. In the book, she unpacks her own beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person and wanting to help people of color, revealing how each of these well-intentioned mindsets perpetuated her ideas about race.

Through her fresh perspectives on bias, stereotypes, manners and tolerance, Irving hopes readers gain new insights on how racism works and understand why white people often struggle to talk about racism.

Her two workshops, “Transformational Conversations” and “Leveling the Playing Field,” are designed with the same objectives in mind.

Transformational Conversations

Explore ways to embed new transformational norms into our personal and institutional practices to create deep connections and resilience.
9:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Arts and Sciences Building, 2nd floor (Mainstage Theater)

Because our social norms encourage us to avoid contact, many of us raised in it have not fully developed the insight, skill, and emotional stamina necessary to broach and navigate differences of perspective and opinion, especially when harm to a member of a marginalized group is part of the mix. Too often these conversations are completely avoided or broached only to go from bad to worse, leaving people in divided camps teeming with assumption and anger that further divides us and wreaks havoc on our communities. There is a different way. This workshop explores ways to embed new transformational norms into our personal and institutional practices necessary to create deep connections and resilience: ways of being that sustain and grow us personally and collectively.


Leveling the Playing Field

Gain powerful tools to analyze power dynamics and cultivate transformative cultures in your circles of influence.
1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Arts and Sciences Building, 2nd floor (Mainstage Theater)

Using a series of pointed questions, Debby will work with participants to build a graphic map of the groups people belong to because of social locations and historical roles in U.S. society. Participants will explore the social beliefs, attitudes, and dynamics that can perpetuate patterns of power and privilege. Understanding that the more versed one becomes in the ways of whiteness, the more one is able to set individual and institutional intentions to actively counter those thoughts. This workshop offers a reframing of DEI work to shift current power and privilege dynamics to equitable shared problem solving, envisioning, and co-creating.


About the One Book, One Campus, One Community program

Indiana University Northwest’s One Book, One Campus, One Community reading program is intended to build an intellectual and social rapport among students, staff, faculty and community members. It does this through the collective experience of reading, thinking about and discussing challenging ideas and themes that raise important social issues, especially those surrounding issues of diversity.