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Portland Anti-Racist Educator Tori Williams Douglass Offers White People a Crash Course in Being Better Allies

Essentially an introduction to the concept of anti-racism, "White Homework" is both a podcast and a literal set of online coursework.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

White people constantly ask Tori Williams Douglass what they can do to end racism and white supremacy. Her answer was to give them homework.

Essentially an introduction to the concept of anti-racism, White Homework is both a podcast and a literal set of online coursework created by the Portland anti-racist educator. The podcast covers everything from the carceral state to tone policing, while the online course starts with a lesson on colonialism.

The idea for White Homework began in 2014 during the uprising in Ferguson, Mo., following the death of Michael Brown. While posting frequently about the protests and police brutality on Facebook, Williams Douglass noticed certain patterns among white commenters.

"Everyone was asking, 'What can I do in my specific circumstances?'" Williams Douglass says. "That's a very time-consuming process. I created White Homework to give people the opportunity to ask questions that I would sit down and ask them anyway."

Then, when an uprising began in her hometown after the death of George Floyd, the project took on added urgency.

"There's no good timing for Black death, there just isn't," says Williams Douglass. "But people were willing to hear what I had to say."

WW Arts & Culture Editor Matthew Singer talked to Williams Douglass about the questions she's often asked as an educator and the mistakes people make while learning how to be better allies.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.