Thursday, August 16, 2012

Report Back from 3rd Practice Salon

Notes from Confronting Racism in Conversation
July 22nd and August 12th

Talkin’ about Talkin’ – Why is it hard? What does a successful conversation look like? Talkin’ Tactics – Active listening.

What makes it hard?
--Afraid of offending people
--Power dynamics
--I get stressed out
--Being the kill joy
--Being the “angry, black, brown etc. person”
--People getting defensive
--Different set of references for different people
--Being to “politically correct”
--Not having the energy to engage in the conversation
--Get written off because of queerness
-Getting really emotional

Some Tactics
--Read bell hooks
--Recognize intentions
--Build relationship if applicable
--Have internal process, collect thoughts and come back to conversation if possible
--Meridian tapping – to bring your emotions down
--Get in touch with your body so you can know what emotions you are feeling to try to have more control over your response.
--Take space
--Educate yourself so you can present history and facts
--Out yourself as a racist –“wow I used to think like that and someone told me or I realized I was…”
--Strength in numbers.

White People (WP) Break out group – Answering the question of What do you as white people struggle with pertaining to racism? What are some solutions?

Struggles –

--White Guilt – Keeps me down –Is paralyzing
--Judging other white people. Hating other white people.
--How to Navigate Privilege –So you may have access to resources do you take them?
--You care about gentrification and don’t want to participate but where do you live?
--WP get caught up in proving to each other how not racist they are – all talk and no walk - - who I am as opposed to what I do
--What are my or others intentions – do they or I act so they don’t seem racist to be a “good person” or are we motivated because we really care.
--It’s hard talking to WP who think that they got it and are not racist while there actions are very paternalistic or savior complexy
--Not having access to my Herstory. I am told I am descendants of all these different ethnicities but it doesn’t translate into my every day life.
--Cultural Appropriation vs. cultural appreciation – usurping native spirituality. White suburbanites appropriating hiphop.
--People use different vocabularies and definitions
--Why do I not want to make the situation uncomfortable? Am I afraid to give up privilege?

Strategies for solutions
--Commit to a life long struggle of fighting racism
--You will make mistakes – see mistakes as opportunities –
--Trust yourself
--Engage in study groups
--Educate yourself
--Stop thinking of white as the norm
--“Own” your history
--Study your family history if you have access to it
--Align yourself with lawyers
--Support organizations that are addressing racial injustice – financially or physically

People of Color (POC) Break Out Group -  Answering the question of What do you as people of color struggle with pertaining to racism? What are some solutions?

--WP’s dropping the ball. Not calling shit out. Perpetuating shit. Acting like their shit don’t stink.
--Being othered like “I’m angry and upset”
--Being told I need to verify my story. WP needing more details to verify my story.
--Being expected to represent all POC/race
--WP explaining my culture to me/authenticating me
--Tokenizing/Universalizing/Treating POC like currency “my black friend/gay friend/etc”
--Trying to connect but still not getting it.
--Complimenting me by deprecating themselves/making it about them/making it a competition. (Your hair looks so beautiful. My hair is shit)
--Putting POC’s in position of savior and mammy
--WP trying to save POC
--Forcing POC to explain themselves to WP if you don’t fit their narrative
--When WP treats racism as exceptional “ These must be crazy white people.  OMG that is so fucked up! I have never seen anything like this”
--Pretending to be anti-racist to look cool. WP not walking the walk. Forgiving racism because of kin.
-- Acting like POC have to be there.

Strategies for Solutions

--WP listening
--WP demonstrating that they’re trustworthy w/o wanting a gold medal
--WP proactively responding to racism. Not relying POC to speak up for you AND speak up in a timely manner
--Keep in mind that it’s risky and necessary to speak up
--POC being open to conversations among ourselves for ourselves
--POC not having to authenticate realness or downess
--POC working on internalized racism. How internalized racism separates us from POC
--Everyone working on building healthy relationships
--WP don’t expect to be accepted in POC space. Don’t feel entitled to POC energy, space, words, and time.  Showing up is a start but not enough.
--Supporting each other’s mental and emotional health. Feeding and nurturing ourselves.
--Filling our vessels. This work needs our vessels to be filled. We can’t do it with half full vessels.

Report Back after SOLID HOUR OF ROLE PLAY!! Tactics and thoughts -
--Still gotta long way to go
--Personalized response effective “I used to do that”
--Using facts – statistics – historical examples
--Recognizing persons humanity
--Connecting to their personal experience “oh you are having trouble getting a job…”
-- Different words mean different things to different people

Evaluation from August 12th

People liked:
--Scenarios that we role played (we’re puttin them on the web)
--Group size from big to small and big to small
--Playing different roles in the role plays
--Pace was good
--Caucusing or break out groups (WP and POC)
--Assumptions at the beginning
--1 solid hour of role-play!!
--Good amount of time

What could be better and other suggestions:
--More time in caucuses or break out groups
--Could have done more role playing
--More solution oriented
--Put more stuff on blog – scenarios – why white people work on this.
--3 hours was good length
--Let’s do it every month!

--Want strategy session on what to do more!!
--Work on witty comebacks
--Role-plays with strangers..
--Learn more!
--Share different strategies and apply them to different relationships and timing. Ten minutes with stranger or 2 months with your mom?
--Learn from comedians! HUMOR!

-How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston a book and the link also connects to Totally Biased a TV show.

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