The Perfectionist

  • Susan Naimark University of Massachusetts - Boston, Community Change Inc.


The Undoing of a Perfectionist is a reflective piece about the challenges particular to being a white trainer on issues of race and privilege. The primary audience for this submission is white people who are learning to step up and speak out about racism and white skin privilege. By sharing a personal experience, I hope to help others recognize the inherent contradictions in this work for white people, AND the value of sticking with it. My story is not uncommon, of replicating white supremacist behaviors even as I am teaching other white people about white supremacy! I know that many white people who engage in this work find themselves in similar situations. My message is that, yes, you will find yourself in these difficult moments if you choose to step up and speak out – and that you can learn to move through the discomfort. That is part of the process of unlearning white supremacist behavior.

Author Biography

Susan Naimark, University of Massachusetts - Boston, Community Change Inc.

Susan is a Boston-based consultant and trainer whose work focuses on capacity building for community-based organizations, nonprofit and public agencies in the areas of community building, public education and racial justice organizing. She teaches part-time at the University of Massachusetts-Boston Graduate School of Education, and is the author of The Education of a White Parent (Levellers Press, 2012). She serves as Board Chair of the Boston Parent Organizing Network and of Community Change, Inc., a Boston nonprofit that focuses on supporting white people to challenge institutional racism.

How to Cite
Naimark, S. (2015). The Perfectionist. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 5(2), 89 - 91. Retrieved from
Creative Works & Self-Reflections