Racial Bias Training

Uncategorized Jun 10, 2018

Starbucks held their one day anti-bias training last week.  

I offered them a few tips on how to use this moment to do some systemic work but ... you know how that goes!  Not to be deterred, I offered my own racial bias training in my community.  Two coffee shops came on as sponsors and we brought more people into the conversation.

Here are a couple of takeaways:

1.  We can't talk about bias without first placing it in the context of racism and the systemic degrading of blackness and uplifting of whiteness.

2.  Racial bias shows up in what we don't see as well as what we do see.

3.  You can always do more to stop racial bias and anti-Blackness 

4.  AND most folks will need support to sustain this awareness and strategies to undo it in their organizations, schools, and faith communities.

5.  I want to teach something like the Roots of Anti-Blackness in You

I'll say a bit more about each below.

Put bias in the context of white supremacy and systemic racism

Have you ever done any online anti-bias training?  I have.  I was shocked at how the training removed "isms" from the conversation.  So the phrases "who looks like you" or "who thinks like you" were common but there was no mention of historical anti-blackness.  No mention of why Anglo men are considered the norm into which all others have to be especially "welcomed" or "included."

Of course the challenge is, where do you begin?  My friend Lisa Graustein put together a slideshow that documents legal institutionalized white supremacy/privilege since the arrival of Europeans in the 1600s.  You could read it, but I recommend you experience it with other people.   When we get this context we are able to see white supremacy is not the shark.  It's the water.

Racial bias is most powerful in what we DON'T see.

So, I know you all are able to spot stereotypical crap easily.  But what emerges in a group is was how the absence of people of color in powerful positions implicitly reinforces white supremacy.  A group of school and family administrators explored the harm it causes Black and Latino kids to not experience teachers from their backgrounds.  Some of the Christians brought up the whiteness of their wall hangings--which prompted a discussion of "What color is your Jesus?"  

You can always do more.  

You have power and responsibility to monitor what is on your phone, your wall and your playlist.  After the workshop, I looked at my home.  I'm not really into design and I have no wall hangings in my office, but I realized that I had been subtly accommodating a white bias.  All of the edgy Black art was in my bedroom or my studio, but not in shared or public spaces.  I have a black and white photograph by Arvia Walker that features two Black women with their fists up and wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts.  One is crying. It is powerful and heart wrenching.  I want to cry just looking at it.  It is uncomfortable.  I had been keeping it close, at least in part, because I was afraid of causing conflict in my interracial home.  But after some disagreement, Michael and I have put it in a very public space.  The conflict got even juicier when Michael brought it up publicly in conversation about race a few days later.  With his permission, we'll post a short video about that experience soon!

You need support.

Most folks need outside help to transform their workplaces or faith communities.  

Why?  People in your own community often minimize what you say. You might have great lived experience but not be an expert.  It's tiring to be the lone dogged voice.  You need a team of people who are breaking down the resistance, planting seeds of knowledge and helping to hold the community as it goes through change.  Building the capacity of the team to raise awareness, lead campaigns, and practice being the change they want to see in the world does not happen by chance.  It must be done intentionally

My next Racial Bias Awareness Training is going to be on July 17th in Lancaster, PA.  Here is a link to register.

Peace and love,



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