Debby Irving

2020 Speaker
Debby Irving

DEBBY IRVING brings to racial justice the perspective of working as a community organizer and classroom teacher for twenty five years without understanding racism as a systemic issue or her own whiteness as an obstacle to grappling with it. As general manager of Boston’s Dance Umbrella and First Night, and later as a classroom teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she struggled to make sense of tensions she could feel but not explain in racially mixed settings. In 2009, a graduate school course, Racial and Cultural Identities, gave her the answers she’d been looking for and launched her on a journey of discovery. Irving now devotes herself to working with white people exploring the impact white skin can have on perception, problem-solving, and engaging in racial justice work. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she earned a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Her book, Waking Up White, tells the story of how she went from well-meaning to well-doing and how she unpacked her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color. She reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. @debbyirving

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