“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.
Unlike some campuses, which may try to push racism to the back burner, hoping against hope that things will go smoothly, Vice Chancellor Enku Gelaye of UMASS Amherst is more pragmatic: "This is our world --- racist incidents will happen. If we're not building relationships consistently, when something happens you have a mish-mash approach that is not authentic."
Want to start engaging others in authentic conversation about race, but don't know how to begin? Or, did you recently hold an equity & diversity session and vow to keep the conversation going? Take the support of the popular clip "A Trip to the Grocery Store."
These five steps show you how to start small and practice leading a group conversation using this clip as a focal point. No professional training in diversity activity facilitation is required, and these steps can be covered in less than an hour. Gather a few people together and go for it. Let us know how it goes!
Make it about learning.
Instead of a stated goal of problem solving, invite colleagues, family or friends to gather with the intention of learning something new. Then when you come together, ask people to share what they hope to get from a conversation about race. This can help create an environment of connection and trust.