There is no “quick fix,” no to-do list or solution to the complex problems of racism and injustice. We will not solve racism within our organization or, even today, within our group. That is why we must commit to an ongoing dialogue and a common path of growth. Because conversations about race can be difficult and divisive, make a few arrangements before starting the conversation. Allow your students to generate their own standards, accept and hold each other to account. Post these agreements and make reference to them if necessary. Decide in advance what the objectives and parameters of the conversation are – what you`re talking about or not. Examples of group standards include: respecting confidentiality, using “I” statements rather than “You” statements, focusing on actions and effects rather than assumptions and intentions, listening fully but consistently, allowing disagreements, appreciating returns instead of becoming defensive, and always respecting each other. (Adapted by: Singleton, G.
E., Linton, C. (2006). Courageous conversations about race: A field leader to get justice in schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.) Talking about race, racism and injustice is often uncomfortable. The identification and unpacking of our own identity groups and the different levels of privilege associated with them are even more unpleasant. To have honest and meaningful conversations about race and injustice, we ask participants to accept that they feel some discomfort. Common agreements help us create a space for transformation. The joint development of group standards is a powerful thing for people who deal with sensitive work. While we encourage your group to create the “codes of conduct” that work best for you, here are the common agreements that White Awake defines as essential for white anti-racist work: to tell the truth, you must be willing to take risks and be honest with your thoughts, feelings and opinions, not just say what you perceive that others want to hear. If we cannot bring our authentic self to the table, dialogue will remain limited. Honor and respect the truth of the other as their own lived experience.
To support each other in our risk-taking, we are committed to respecting the privacy of each individual`s identity and life experiences. We can share our own learning, but not the names and stories of others. Learning and the usefulness of curative judicial practices such as peace circles can also be useful in addressing damage or conflict. These practices can help bring real problems together, while promoting healthy communication, conflict resolution and healthy relationships.