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GSLC Alumna Publishes Dissertation on Womanists Leading White People in Intergroup Dialogue to End Anti-Black Racism

PhD in Leadership and Change alumna Reverend Dr. Tawana Davis published her dissertation entitled, Womanists Leading White People in Intergroup Dialogue to End Anti-Black Racism: An Interpretive Phenomenological AnalysisWomanism is a term curated by Alice Walker (2004) that centers Black women’s lived experiences, past and present, encouraging Black women to no longer look to others for their liberation (Floyd-Thomas, 2006). Soul 2 Soul Sister’s Facing Racism program is facilitated by Womanist instructors, who work with groups of mostly white people to address anti-Black racism.

This qualitative study explored the experiences of white participants who took part in this program, Facing Racism, which holds Womanism as its central guiding principle. Although pre- and post-surveys were routinely conducted over the years about participants’ experiences with Facing Racism, this study sought to take a deep dive using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis to understand how the white participants made sense of the Facing Racism experience and the longer-term outcomes it promoted in addressing and ending anti-Black racism.

The interpretive phenomenological analysis explored the experiences of white people who completed the Facing Racism program. Eight white participants were interviewed using open-ended questions. The key findings of the study included: a) indications of the transforming impact of Womanist and intergroup dialogue in anti-racism work, b) revelations of the preconceptions and biases antithetical to ending anti-Black racism that participants brought with them, c) an affirmation of anti-racism work that works beyond the intellect and the importance of heart and gut/soul work, and d) the identification of racial justice work as life-long work. The key contributions include: a) the verification of a Womanist epistemology as an effective means to address anti-Black racism, b) the value of Womanist ethos in conducting anti-Black racism work centering Black women and Black experiences, c) the introduction and nomenclature of a love-based revolution to address and eradicate anti-Black racism, d) identification of ways for white people to dismantle white supremacy/privilege/thought for the liberation of the historically oppressed and the oppressor and e) a way for white people to commit to address and end anti-Black racism in the long run.

Reverend Dr. Davis is a Womanist, thought provoker, preacher, community leader, domestic violence survivor, and awareness advocate; currently surviving HER2+ metastatic breast cancer; and a Co-Founder of Soul 2 Soul Sisters. Established in 2015, Soul 2 Soul Sisters leads and facilitates anti-racism work across the country through its signature program Facing Racism. She contributed to the ground-breaking academic textbook “Race Work and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience.” Reverend Dr. Davis serves as the Secretary of IREE (Institute for Racial Equity and Excellence). She hosts a podcast called #tuesdayswithtawna on FB Live, various Podcast platforms, and YouTube. Tawana is the moderator and strategic planner for the award-winning Healing the Healers II 4-part series on Domestic Violence Awareness produced by Odyssey Impact and Transform Films. Reverend Dr. Davis is a proud mother of two master-level educators, a grandmother, and most of all a Justice activist for all!

Read more about Dr. Reverend Davis and her dissertation here.