June 2022 Newsletter
curated by Shelly Tochluk
Author of Witnessing Whiteness and Living in the Tension
Member of AWARE-LA

Hello All – I hope this email finds you taking care of yourselves as we respond to the tragedies we have and are witnessing, including 1) the multiple mass shootings of the past few weeks, 2) the assault on women and trans people’s right to make choices about their bodies, 3) the ongoing push to stop children from learning our country’s full history, among others.

My sense of sorrow runs deep as I look at what we face collectively and the road ahead. I am doing my best to translate my reactions into focused work that serves our collective health and well-being. This month’s offerings are few, but essential. Without a full understanding of the issues covered in the first three resources, we will not grasp what is happening in the US what we need to do to address it. Please honor the work that goes into curating these resources by reviewing at least the first three topics. They have opened my eyes, and I hope they do the same for you.
#1 - The Psychology of Christian Nationalism: Why People are Drawn in and How to Talk Across the Divide
by Dean Pamela Cooper-White
A recent workshop participant told me about this just-released book and sent me a link to the author’s book talk. I immediately bought the book and read it cover to cover. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. This relatively short and extremely powerful book is a must-read..
Even though I’ve paid close attention to hate groups and the far-right for the past 5 years, the book is a revelation, as it explains the troubling extent of Christian Nationalism and the outsized role plays in our country today (in ways that I only somewhat grasped previously). It also explores the deep psychological roots underlying people’s commitments, which then allows the author to offer ways we can safely and effectively talk across the divide. Consider buying the book (it’s worth a thorough read) or listen to the book talk for an overview (from minute 14 to 47).
Most cable and print news outlets do not understand this malignant, growing movement. This 2-minute snippet from CNN is typical and represents the danger of us ignoring and dismissing what we consider “out there” or “fringe.”
We need to understand this because of what we learn from Dr. Pamela Cooper-White’s book (see above). The issues are not disconnected. Together, they answer the question: How can people who claim to be good, Christian people believe these conspiracy theories and support or tolerate such hatred?
Read this article from Business Insider to understand the goals and tactics of the Dark MAGA movement. Read the book on Christian Nationalism to understand the extent of the danger (a huge number of people are affected, and the power they wield based on our minority-rule system is shaping our nation’s future).
#3 - Living with the Far-Right Insurgency
Read this article about people living with the far-right insurgency in Idaho to recognize that people’s lives are already changing across the US. For those of us living in “blue states” or large cities, we may not feel the immediate effects of what is happening. However, we cannot ignore that real change is occurring for a lot of people in a lot of places.
If you read the book on Christian Nationalism (first offering), understand the goals and tactics of the Dark MAGA movement (second offering), and then learn how people inspired by them are taking control of cities and towns across the US (third offering), you will understand why each of us needs to play some role in our communities to resist this push (even if that means educating our neighbors and friends).
Research Reports
In case you, like me, tend toward a self-soothing hope that our nation’s troubles will shift as old, stodgy, racist white folks wither away, this recently published study will put an end to that. It reveals that “adolescent Trump supporters and detractors had different developmental experiences during his presidency.” Read this short synopsis of the research findings to learn how adolescent experiences during the Trump era diverged radically, leading to different capacities and beliefs.

The findings indicate that our next generation, growing up during a time of extreme polarization, are being shaped by that very polarization (those with strong opinions about Trump hold very different opinions, but both express strong attitudes toward civic engagement). --- Please keep in mind that what matters is not simply the number of people on one side or the other because where people live makes a big difference in how much power they wield in our country. --- Learn more here.
YouTube Algorithms and Extreme Content
 In this study, researchers set up adult and youth YouTube accounts that varied across the ideological spectrum (from mainstream right to far-right extremism) to investigate how the “seed content” would affect what the platform’s algorithms would offer as suggested content.
The results correspond to other research results, which indicate that anti-feminist and anti-trans content is a primary gateway toward other extreme (Nazi-themed) content, and the two most prominent figures featured are Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, even if their names are never mentioned in video titles. Ultimately there is a strong overlap between “manosphere” videos (anti-feminist, anti-trans) and white supremacy. The research synopsis is more nuanced, offers more details, and is a quick read. In the end, it raises significant concern about our need to address the mental health of young men who are being fed warped concepts of masculinity and misogynistic content even without seeking it.
Free Download
This is the recently published Caregiver’s Guide from the Western States Center I co-authored. It was with a heavy heart that I acknowledge that the mass shooting in  Buffalo caused it to be featured in numerous media posts this past month. Please consider downloading it for yourselves and sharing the link with others so they can download it too. It is free. If the earlier resources make you wish you had more skills to talk to the folks in your life who seem hard to reach, this guide offers some sentence starters.
More Resources

The folks at Teaching White While put out this post following the shooting in Buffalo. It offers a number of useful links that would be particularly relevant to people working with kids and teens.

If you are still somewhat perplexed about the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that was at the heart of the Buffalo shooter’s manifesto, this resource page from the folks at the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) is a good resource.

From Anti-Racism Daily
Learn the history behind Memorial Day.

  • The first official national celebration of Memorial Day was three years after the end of the Civil War.
  • The earliest recorded tribute that may have inspired the tradition was in 1865 led by recently freed Black people.
  • The whitewashing of U.S. history enables the minimizing of the contributions of Black people in favor of whiteness.
This four-day intensive, deep dive for white people working on their antiracist practice will take place via Zoom again this summer. I have co-produced this program with AWARE-LA for the last 13 years and continue to find it a unique and essential offering. Check out the information sheet for more details about the program. Space remains available.
 AWARE’s monthly Sunday Dialogue (SD) occurs on the 3rd Sunday of every month, 3-5PM Pacific via the Zoom online platform.  We focus on connecting, sharing, and learning from one another. If you'd like to join us to receive monthly invitations, please subscribe here: Sunday Dialogues Interest List Sign Up
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Shelly Tochluk · 10 Chester Place · Los Angeles, CA 90007 · USA

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