The question arose the minute the Witnessing Whiteness Workshop Series was posted and people started receiving the announcement. Why are you giving it away? You should be charging for this!
Not everyone responds in this fashion. Friends in racial justice work are far more surprised than opposed. They recognize that all-too-often important resources are priced out of reach of many of the grassroots or community groups who would really like to use them.
For me it is largely a matter of wanting the resources to be used. I want people to really dig in to the ideas in the book and get as much out of the reading as possible. In an economy such as ours, starting with a relatively pricey book but then adding a really rich companion resource for no charge makes the book purchase a lot more rational.
Admittedly, if I were trying to make my living from this work, this approach would likely be more challenging. But, I work a full time job in addition to my anti-racism efforts. This allows me to make the choice more easily.
This is also not without context. There are many that rightly question how white people doing anti-racism benefit markedly from the work. How many of us are called to speak more often because of the very privilege that we’re trying to dismantle? I think it happens a lot. I recognize it in the reasons people give when they call me to invite me to give a talk. We talk about it.
Let’s be honest. For those who know me, they know I have a nice enough quality of life and I receive compensation when I travel to offer presentations. Making this workshop series accessible and free to anyone wishing to use it is simply the right thing to do. No self-righteousness involved. It just makes sense.
My only hope is that people don’t imagine that the series is less valuable because they didn’t need to pay for it. (You know, that does happen sometimes.) That is truly my deepest concern.