Systems Create and Maintain Inequity: the SAE Greek Example

Posted by Dia Penning

March 24, 2015

World Trust Director of Curriculum, Education Manager and Workshop Facilitator Dia Penning weighs in on how the recent exposure of the racist Sigma Alpha Epsilon members is not a one-off example of a few racist students singing a racist song but an example of how systemic inequity is reinforced and passed on from generation to generation of those with influence and power positions in the United States.    

When the whole country saw a bus full of Sigma Alpha Epsilon(SAE) brothers singing, “there will never be a n***er in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me,” media outlets claimed it was an isolated incident and parents insisted their nice boys made a mistake. But, I started thinking about power, about wealth, and about who runs this country.

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Topics: Higher Ed, System of Inequity, Resources for Facilitators & Educators, Responding to a Racist Incident, Racial Equity Learning

Celebrate with Us! The Jefferson Award

Posted by World Trust Team

March 17, 2015

Celebrate with us!  Our founder, Shakti Butler was recently honored with a Jefferson Award and featured on a newcast by Bay Area CBS station KPIX.  
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Topics: Higher Ed, Diversity Workshops, Diversity Training Film Selection, Talk about Race, Resources for Facilitators & Educators, Shakti Butler, Diversity Initiative, Community Building, How to

Spaces of Possibility: Building Radically Open Classrooms Allows for Organic Dialogue about Race, Power, and Social justice

Posted by Dia Penning

March 10, 2015

“The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.” -bell hooks

This year World Trust is collaborating with several individuals, across different sectors, to underline the importance of open authentic dialogue about inclusion, race, and power. In this piece Educator Bobby Biedrzycki and Graduate student Courtney Zellars examine why building a foundation is important for that work.


As an educator, some of the most beautiful, transformative, and scary spaces I find myself in are dialogues about race and identity. Any classroom space where people are sharing stories and experiences, and others are listening and reacting to that openness, can be life-changing. Much of the work I find myself doing in the classroom (and my classrooms are everything from college lecture halls to living rooms) is rooted in finding ways to collaborate with people on creating these kinds of spaces. Safe spaces. Honest spaces. Spaces of radical possibility.

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Topics: Higher Ed, Talk about Race, Resources for Facilitators & Educators, Community Building, How to

Neighbors Combat Racial Profiling and Build Community in Oakland, CA

Posted by Valerie Fulton

March 3, 2015

Being neighborly means more than sharing gardening tools and taking in the mail, as World Trust's Outreach Manager, Ginny Berson discovered several years ago when she and her partner moved to a new neighborhood in Oakland, California. Their efforts to address a few specific instances of racial profiling on the listserv have blossomed into unexpected opportunities for community building and transformative learning about systemic racism throughout the neighborhood.

We recently spoke with Ginny to learn more about the grass roots organization, Neighbors for Racial Justice, that has sprung out of her own personal diversity initiative.

It Began with a Simple Observation

"After we moved to this neighborhood three and a half years ago," Ginny says, "my partner noticed a disturbing pattern of posts on the listserv (an email group for residents). These were clear instances of racial profiling, things like 'There is a black man walking through the neighborhood, and we've never seen him before. Just keep an eye out.' Messages to that effect."

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Topics: Film: Cracking the Codes, Talk about Race, Responding to a Racist Incident, Diversity Initiative, Community Building, Oakland, Engaging White People in Racial Equity

Incarcerated Men Talk about Race in a Successful Prison Diversity Initiative

Posted by Valerie Fulton

February 25, 2015

A while back, World Trust received an email from Madeleine Trichel, a volunteer facilitator working with the Horizon Prison Initiative at the Marion Correctional Institute. She wanted to let us know that she was using our diversity film, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, to get prisoners in the program talking about white privilege, unconscious bias, and their experience with systemic racism.

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Topics: Film: Mirrors of Privilege, Talk about Race, Diversity Workshop, Diversity Initiative, Faith

"Deep Work": How Clinicians are Engaging in an Ongoing Diversity Initiative

Posted by Lisa Abbott

February 19, 2015

We want to share some valuable insight from the Clinical Program Director of the Ann Martin Center in Oakland, California, Laurie Lober, who is working with World Trust facilitator Dia Penning on a year-long diversity initiative with her mostly white staff. Here is what she told us after several months into the process.

The Need for Conversation

The Ann Martin Center is a large organization that provides psychotherapy services, educational support, and parent education to underserved residents in the Oakland area. The Center works directly in the community and at their clinic, hosting lectures, psychotherapy groups, and workshops. The 75-member staff is mostly white, serving clients who are mostly of color.

Clinic Director Lober sited two main reasons for their year-long diversity initiative.

1. Conversations about systemic racism and white privilege were needed to bridge the gap between white staff members' abstract knowledge of institutional racism and the reality of their day-to-day work.

World Trust workshop facilitator Dia Penning, speaking

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Topics: Diversity Workshop, Diversity Initiative, Dia Penning, Social Work, Oakland, Psychologists

Meet Ericka Huggins, Racial Equity & Diversity Workshop Facilitator

Posted by Lisa Abbott

February 17, 2015

Ericka Huggins is in the spotlight today as World Trust continues to profile the diversity workshop facilitators who help institutions initiate conversations that help people understand concepts like white privilege and systemic racism.

A professor of sociology at Laney College in Oakland, California, Ericka has been a human rights' activist and educator for over 30 years. She is skilled at finding ways to appeal to people on an emotional level, using their common experience to engage in community building and critical thinking.

"One question that I always ask is, 'How many people in the room have children?'" Ericka explains. "This lets people express their own compassion. And then we look at the film we're watching, or the story we're discussing, through the lens of our own beloved children. It shifts the tone of the conversation from people's heads to their hearts. An added advantage is that talking about the world we want for our kids takes the conversation away from the personal and makes it more universal."

"I love to watch how Ericka invites people to connect, grow and tranform," says Shakti Butler, Founder of World Trust, "She sees the best in every human heart and invites their greatness to shine.  She works from the belief that most people want the same thing: happiness, connection and a chance to participate fully in the web of life! We are fortunate to have such a brilliant and masterful educator on the World Trust team."

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Topics: Diversity Workshop, Ericka Huggins

Meet Dia Penning, Racial Equity & Diversity Workshop Facilitator

Posted by Lisa Abbott

February 10, 2015

Dia Penning, in addition to being a facilitator, serves as Education Manager and Curriculum Director for World Trust.  Dia designs Racial Equity Learning Modules which offer transformative and creative ways for educators to engage people in community building and learning about systemic racism.

As a diversity workshop facilitator, Dia brings the following strengths:

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Topics: Diversity Workshop, Dia Penning, Social Work

Self-Reflection: One White Community's Experience with "Mirrors of Privilege"

Posted by Lisa Abbott

February 3, 2015

We are always on the lookout for diversity activities taking place in local communities across the country. We recently learned about a diversity initiative in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a predominately white bedroom community north of Boston, that included a screening of the World Trust diversity video, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible.

Curious to hear how that conversation went, we contacted Reverend Wendy von Zirpolo, the event organizer.

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Topics: Film: Mirrors of Privilege, Community Building, Faith

Meet Amikaeyla Gaston, Racial Equity & Diversity Workshop Facilitator

Posted by Lisa Abbott

January 31, 2015

Today we'll be profiling another one of our amazing facilitators, Amikaeyla Gaston.

A talented performer who has traveled the world using art and expression to promote healing, Ami describes herself as "a force for change." Her use of meditation and music is a perfect match for the creative diversity workshop activities she uses to engage participants and spur community building among them. Beyond that, she is highly in tune with the dynamics of the group.

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Topics: Diversity Workshop, Amikaeyla Gaston

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