I’ve talked before about racial dynamics in the planning and organizing stages, but it’s important to also be aware of racial dynamics throughout the dialogue and facilitation process. (See my post on July 15, 2009 on racial dynamics in planning and organizing).
Here are some things you should look out for during the dialogue and facilitation process:
• The white facilitator seems to lead most of the time; the person of color who is co-facilitating tends to do more note-taking.
• The white organizer checks in with the white facilitator about how things are going.
• One or two people of color in a circle of 10 are asked to speak for their whole group.
• People of color do most of the storytelling. Whites listen a lot, but they’re not willing or encouraged to share stories on race on a deeper, more personal level; instead, they are more likely to talk about gender, etc.
• The conversation on race is dismissed and replaced by a discussion of socio-economics or gender (for example). Knowing that it is easier to talk about other issues, the facilitator is not willing to press the group to focus on race.
• The facilitator steps out of the neutral role and begins to “teach” the group.
• During the dialogue, participants make racially charged statements. The facilitators are inexperienced and uncomfortable, so they shut down the conversation.
What steps could you take to prevent these things from happening? If you’ve already started your dialogue and facilitation process, are there other examples you could share?
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