Introduction to the Training

In this section, you will find: 

  • Purpose of the Training
  • Purpose of this Facilitator's Guide
  • Learning Objectives
  • Case for the TWP Training

Purpose of the Training

Welcome to the facilitation guide for the Transforming White Privilege: A 21st Century Leadership Capacity (TWP) curriculum and learning modules. We appreciate your exploring this resource and hope you find it useful for your purposes.

TWP was created by three organizations: MP Associates, The Center for Assessment and Policy Development (CAPD) and World Trust Educational Services, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We sought funding specifically to create resources that a wide variety of groups might use to embed explicit attention to white privilege and white culture as part of their diversity, inclusion, racial equity and social justice training. The subjects of white culture and white privilege are often taboo, even in those settings. In addition, even very willing practitioners did not feel they had a wide variety of effective resources to help them tackle the issues well and with positive results (see Results from Evaluations of Pilots to Date section). The result of that investment has been the development, piloting, early assessment and launch of this curriculum and associated materials.

Thus, TWP was created to fill a particular niche and to take advantage of a particular opportunity. Groups working on diversity, inclusion, racial equity and social justice that include attention to white culture and privilege as part of that work reap important benefits. Understanding white culture, along with its embedded historical and associated privileges, provides insight into integral parts of a larger system of inequity. Dominant culture narratives or norms―e.g., what constitutes a “family,”’ who is considered dangerous, intelligent, acceptable and whose perspectives are valid―are codified in customs, laws, institutions, policies and practices. They reinforce stereotypes and limit fair access in terms of who belongs inside and who remains outside circles of human concern. In addition, cultural assumptions are part of what continue to advantage some groups and disadvantage others. And, even when those inequities are persistent and obvious, the forces and assumptions that drive them often may not be. By exploring white culture and its embedded privileges, TWP is intended to fill gaps in understanding while providing an impetus for considering norms, policies and practices that explicitly include a lens that is often not considered in terms of opening up new entry points for policy and systems change.  

Purpose of this Facilitator's Guide

This facilitation guide itself has two main goals:

  1. To help facilitators and host organizations who are considering delivering the training to get a better sense of what that might take in terms of time, logistics and facilitation experience or skills
  2. To share context, tips, tools and resources that might help facilitators and host organizations as they prepare for delivering the training

We hope the guide is helpful to experienced social justice and racial equity facilitators who want to think through how best to implement the TWP curriculum. We also hope it is also useful to people and groups who want to add deeper attention to white privilege and white culture within their other educational, leadership development, transformative learning or community change efforts.

The guide is deeply informed from our own experience facilitating several rounds of pilots of the curriculum, plus from post-training surveys of participants and discussions with the organizations who hosted the pilots. It also draws on MP Associates, World Trust’s and CAPD’s experiences as facilitators of transformative learning, community engagement and multi-racial change processes, and as social justice and racial equity facilitators. Given that foundation, we also hope the guide is a useful way for us to share some of what we have learned about this very important, and very challenging, work.

At the same time, the facilitation guide is very much a work in progress. If you are reading this, and you end up using the curriculum and/or have thoughts to offer on the facilitation guide or any other aspect of the curriculum, please share. If you have questions or comments, please contact us at

Learning Objectives
Transforming White Privilege Curriculum Goal

"To support leaders in better identifying, talking productively about and addressing white privilege and its consequences in their many different spheres of influence."

Content Topics

  • Understanding the system of inequity
  • Learning about accumulated advantages for whites and accumulated disadvantages for people of color and their current-day legacy
  • Understanding that whiteness is a social construct and why that matters
  • Clarity on the different types of white privilege
  • Learning about how white culture manifests in organizations.
  • The impact of internalized racism and internalized privilege
  • Understanding how narratives reinforce inequity

Skills to Practice

  • Identifying and analyzing white privilege and white culture, and practicing addressing them
  • Practicing identifying entry points
  • Creating and using mental checklist questions
  • Talking about white privilege and structural racism
  • Practicing strategic questioning

Outcomes -

By the conclusion of the training, we hope participants will:

  • Increase their awareness of how white privilege operates
  • Learn more about how to instigate change in their spheres of influence
  • Find new entry points for change
  • Develop accountability and support among a practice group
  • Increase their confidence in talking about white privilege
  • Advance their ability to make a compelling case for addressing white privilege
  • Have additional tools to work towards racial equity

All to boldly interrupt white privilege, because white privilege is what helps create and maintain systemic inequity

Case for the TWP Training

Why Understanding White Privilege and Culture is a 21st Century Leadership Capacity

We recognize that white privilege and white culture are contentious terms and difficult issues with which to grapple in many settings. We went into the development of the curriculum with a strong belief that the effort to grapple with them would be worth it for the participants, particularly in terms of seeing new entry points for positive change.

That is because most of our current laws, regulations, policies and practices in areas like housing, health care, education and law enforcement were established, or justified, in part because of assumptions about what is normal, appropriate or desirable (see Dr. Khalil Muhammad on “Facing Our Racial Past”). These assumptions tend to reflect dominant cultural narratives or norms – for example, what constitutes a “family,”’ who is dangerous, which groups are deserving of societal support and which are not (e.g., the deserving and undeserving poor), etc.

Over time, the consequence of laws, regulations, policies and practices is a multigenerational system of inequity. This system reinforces stereotypes and access to organizational and system power. In addition, when those assumptions are codified into laws, system policies and organizational and community practices, they are part of what creates persistent advantages for some groups and persistent disadvantages for others (for example, redlining, access to education via the G.I. bill, mandatory minimums drug-sentencing policies, etc.). And, even when those inequities are persistent and obvious, their underlying assumptions and the assumptions that maintain them may not be. We argue that understanding white privilege gives leaders another tool for cutting through this complex system, and thus, real and practical entry points for change.

Thus, we believe the capacities to identify, talk about and intervene around white privilege and its consequences are critical leadership capacities. We also believe they are especially useful capacities for leaders working towards equitable outcomes at organizational, community and system levels.

The modules are also a deliberate effort to fill a gap. Based on a survey of leadership groups, we found that frank discussion of white privilege is often taboo, even in motivated groups working on reducing inequities. Leadership groups did not always feel confident about addressing white privilege, and they noted a lack of resources that they could embed in their training which could help them do that. The Transforming White Privilege modules were created specifically in response to that opportunity and need. 

Results from Evaluations of Pilots to Date

As part of developing the curriculum, we collected information from pilot participants before, just after and several months after they took part in the training. In addition to getting specific feedback on the training itself, we focused on what participants learned, if they applied that learning and if they were doing anything differently as a result. That information will be updated in January 2017 to get a longer-term view. You can access the questionnaires and more information in the Appendix section of this guide.

The pilots have offered us the opportunity to work with participants with widely differing levels of experience and understanding―from those for whom this work is their profession to those who are at the beginning of their journey in understanding best practices in equity. As a result of this, we have found that offering pre-readings and using video clips is an effective way to help people at different levels have a common starting point for learning.

As a reminder, the TWP training is designed to help participants build their confidence and capacities to identify and talk productively with others about white privilege, and even more importantly, to take actions to reduce or mitigate its consequences. In January 2016, we sent out a survey to participants from the three second-round pilot organizations (Center for Diversity and Innovation at the Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, MI, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, Holland, MI, and the Michigan Roundtable on Diversity and Inclusion, Detroit, MI). We aggregated the resulting data across the three organizations. The elapsed time between the training and the follow-up survey varied substantially―between four weeks and one year―so we consider these data suggestive, rather than representative. With that in mind, early results are promising. See Figure 1, Figure 2 and Figure 3 for more details. 

Specific examples of what participants shared with us in the follow-up survey include:

“We put together a study group consisting of Administration, HR and the Sheriff's Office to read and discuss Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. We are almost done with this. I did this so our group could learn more about how racism and bias are imbedded in the criminal justice system.”

“[I have applied the learning] in an opportunity to participate in assessing how privilege plays a role in a particular organization, their employees, and the community they serve. A lot of what I learned in TWP is being applied.”

“[The most important thing that I took away from the training is] that there are allies in my own community.”

The pilots also helped us understand how to support different groups and individuals within them. For example, we had the opportunity to work with participants with widely differing levels of experience and understanding―from those for whom this work is their profession to those who are at the beginning of their journey in understanding best practices in equity. We have found that offering pre-readings and using video clips is an effective way to help people at different levels have a common starting point for learning.

We will be updating this section on evaluation learnings in January 2017 based on the pilots. We also hope those who use the curriculum will share their learning with us, so we can continue to build a community of practice together.

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