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People in the disintegration stage have new experiences that confront prior conceptions of race, people of color, and media. Because the new information or experiences feel challenging, individuals are often plagued by feelings of embarrassment, anger, guilt, or shame. These strong emotions can be transformed when the person decides to channel these emotions positively. However, when those emotions continue to dominate, the person may move into the regressive reintegration stage.
|Stage of White Identity||Common Manifestations||What You Can Do Next|
|Contact||“Colorblind” motto; Sense that talking about racism is a racist act.||Learn about the Contact stage|
|Disintegration||Aware of racism in family or community. Sense of (White) guilt often mixed with curiosity. Focus on individual actions and merit, such as, “I have a black friend.”||Scroll down for the action steps|
|Reintegration||Blame-the-victim or other defensive attitudes. Caution, this is a regressive stage!||Learn about the Reintegration stage|
|Pseudo-Independence||Becoming aware of skin color privileges. May look to people of color for teaching. May confuse racism with other kinds of discrimination.||Learn about the Pseudo-Independence stage|
|Immersion/Emersion||Concern deepening enough to start conversations with other Whites about racism.||Learn about the Immersion stage|
|Autonomy||Positive White identity while also an active anti-racist.||Learn about the Autonomy stage|
White Racial Identity Model by Janet E. Helms with adaptations by Anna Stamborski, M. Div Candidate (2022), Nikki Zimmermann, M. Div candidate (2021), and Bailie Gregory, M. Div, M.S. Ed.
What to do next
Do not let guilt (White guilt) or shame stop you from opening your mind and doing anti-racist work. Find a way to be with the discomfort and work with it. Some examples might include attending training, joining an allies group, or participating in a protest. Keep working to grow, instead of settling into shame, and ask folks how you can improve.
Take the 21-Day Antiracism Challenge
The challenge comes from the University of California San Diego. Start with Section 1: How We Got Here to understand how good people can still carry racist ideas. Go easy, and it may be helpful to talk with an antiracist friend.
When you’re ready, move onto Section 2: Intersections of Power, Language, and Visibility.
- Take the Implicit Bias Test (Harvard). This will help you understand what biases you might have unknowingly that come from the broader society in which you live.
- Listen to podcast episode The Mind of the Village (Hidden Brain, NPR).
- “Why Are White People So Bad at Talking About Race?” A short video summarizing the book by Robin DiAngelo.
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, who speaks to well-intended White folks and the banal blusters of “I’m not a racist” that make racial stress a routine fact of life.