Mutual Interest=Personal + Shared investment
Both then went over guidelines for the discussion:
-Use “I” statements
-Intent vs. Impact
-Lean In and embrace discomfort, empathy, and connection
After the introduction, Jason and Derek led the group in a facilitated activity:
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable and think back to a time in your life where you’ve experienced pain. When was this experience? Where were you? Who were you with? How did you respond? How might you respond differently? And what kept you going, what kept you moving towards a positive resolution?
These questions provided a foundation for exploring participants' personal investment in working towards ending racism. When engaging in anti-racism work gets difficult or painful, what can keep you going? What does mutual interest look like?
Participants, namely white participants, shared the ways in which racism affects their personal lives and prevents learning, relationships, and understanding. Participants of color shared the ways ins which racism impacts their familial relaitonships. One participant qualified racism as a "distraction" and did not want her child to have to navigate the distractions to success that racism poses. Another mother expressed that racism and police brutality makes her question her children's safety, especially that of her sons.
Derek explained that when he has these conversations with mainly white audiences, participants characterize their investment in anti-racism work as intellectual. Participants for example say, "Racism impairs our ability to get to know one each other or to get to learn from each other." Yet, when he has these conversations with mainly people of color, reasons for involvement in anti-racism work is more emotional and about survival. Derek posed that we need to work to identify emotional reasons, not just intellectual, to be invested in anti-racism work. For example, Jason exclaimed that as a white person he feels as if his humanity cannot be fully realized if the humanity of others is oppressed. It is from this perspective where he then begins his work.
Both Jason and Derek left participants with a challenge to examine their inner circle of friends and family and have conversations about race, privilege, power, and racism. It is in these personal relationships where change can be made.
Were you at the discussion? Have anything to add? What does mutual interest look like? How can both people of color and white people work together to end racism? How does ending racism benefit everyone? Share your thoughts below!
Join us tomorrow for the final Stowe Salon at Lunch for the summer! In honor of back to school season, we'll be discussing school integration and segregation. Check out these two pieces for background information! Class Notes: What's really at stake when a school closes by Jelani Cobb, and The Problem We All Live With, from This American Life.