Brown Bag Lecture Series
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Debby Irving and Shay Stewart-Bouley speak about “Waking up White”

Wednesday, September 10 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Location: Main Library
Audience: Adults, Teens, Seniors

For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people swaking up whitehe dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn’t understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one “aha!” moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.
About the Author
Debby Irving is an emerging voice in the national racial justice community. Combining her organization development skills, classroom teaching experience, and understanding of systemic racism, Irving educates and consults with individuals and organizations seeking to create racial equity at both the personal and institutional level.

Irving grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, during the socially turbulent 1960s and ’70s. After a blissfully sheltered, upper-middle-class suburban childhood, she found herself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by the racial divide she observed in nearby Boston. Her career began in a variety of urban performance-art and community-based non-profits, where she repeatedly found that her best efforts to “help” caused more harm than the good she intended. Her one-step-forward-two-steps-back experience of racial understanding eventually lead her to dig deeply into her own white privilege, where she found truths she never knew existed. Waking Up White describes that journey and the lessons learned along the way.

Now a racial justice educator and writer, Irving works with other white people to transform confusion into curiosity and anxiety into action. She’s worked in private and public urban schools, both in the classroom and at the board level, to foster community among students, teachers, staff, and families by focusing on honest dialog that educates and connects people through shared interests and divergent backgrounds. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Waking Up White is her first book.

Debbie and Shay will be hosting a discussion titled: Telling Me the Truth: Exploring the Heart of Cross Cultural Relations preceding this book talk on Tuesday, September 9th at 7:00pm in the Rines Auditorium Click here for more information!

About the Series » Brown Bag Lecture Series

Portland Public Library’s Brown Bag Lecture Series features bi-weekly reading and question-and-answer sessions with authors from around the nation as well as those who hail from right here in Maine.

All Brown Bag Lectures are free to the public (unless specifically noted as a fundraiser). Because they usually take place over the lunch hour, guests are encouraged to bring their lunch; coffee provided by Coffee By Design. Special thanks to our Brown Bag Lecture Series coffee sponsor, Coffee by Design, and welcome to our new refreshment sponsor, Whole Foods. Books on sale at each lecture courtesy of Longfellow Books, who generously donates a portion of the proceeds to the Portland Public Library. Questions about our Brown Bag Lectures or to be added to our weekly calendar e-mail, please send us an e-mail.