Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Conversations about Race: Black Men Speak

(Internet Photo Question Bridge)
Many of us never get in on a conversation between Black men or about Black men so we have trouble imagining what it might be like. 

As a young woman occasionally returning home to visit my parents, I had the chance to listen in on some of those conversations. A group of young Black men would congregate on Saturday nights around the yellow Formica kitchen table with the chrome legs and matching chairs. Bringing in extra seats, my father would lead the discussion of the evening while doling out the cookies or slices of cake my mother had baked.

The Brothers discussed race and religion, what the world was coming to, gardening, what it took to be a man, relationships, and any other question or concern someone brought to the table. Respectful, questioning, needing to be heard, they looked to my dad for answers. He’d respond, but he’d also help them find the answers within themselves.

Without a gathering around our kitchen tables, it’s hard to fathom how such conversations might sound and how the participants might look. But thanks to the vision and work of the originators of Question Bridge: Black Males, a video Q&A exchange, we have the opportunity for experiencing a dialog between a diverse group of Black men. 

I first heard about the project in an email from my friend Peggy who wrote “…at Randolph College in Lynchburg - videos of black males discussing being black etc. … [It] is spectacular and exhausting.” So, with a little research, in moments, I, too, became enthralled with this enlightening, contemplative peek into how real Black men see the world and themselves in it.

In an article on Code Switch, an NPR blog on race (in existence since 2013), Shereen Marisol Meraji writes:

Executive producer Jesse Williams, an actor best known for playing Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey's Anatomy, says the project is an attempt to take back the narrative of "this country's most opaque and feared demographic," and to expand society's idea of who African-American men are and what they can do.

Here’s an opportunity to expand our knowledge and views on the Black Male experience and maybe find common ground for further meaningful conversations about race.

Tune in to Question Bridge: Black Males. It's a lengthy video so give yourself time and make yourself comfortable. 

Did anything surprise you? Provide new thoughts? Confirm your ideas and feelings? Cause a reaction?

We’ve begun our conversation. Let us keep it going.

~ xoA ~

Friday, October 2, 2015

Conversations about Race: Let’s Talk!

Ever have a difficult situation or conversation about race or racism come up at work or at a meeting? How about in your classroom? Or in your home or car when kids are interacting? How comfortable do you feel participating in these conversations?

Over 300 of us “met” this week on Teaching Tolerance’s webinar, “Let’s Talk!,” a program designed to instruct about handling difficult conversations. It was billed for teachers and school personnel, but I found many aspects of the presentation appropriate for anyone.

One thing the moderator suggested was to assess our own comfort level concerning dealing with conversations about race and racism. In a poll of the group, she asked us to designate True, False, or Sometimes regarding the following statements:
1.   I am comfortable talking about race/racism   (T - F - S)
2.   I would rather not talk about race/racism. (T - F - S)
3.   I feel prepared to talk about race/racism. (T - F - S)

Then the moderator asked us to finish the next two sentence stems:
1)   The hard part about talking about race/racism is . . .
2)   The beneficial part of talking about race/racism is . . .

Fingers flew and answers bolted upward like scattered birds as participants’ responses bombarded the Group Chat window. Some expressed fear of misspeaking, sounding racist, or doing harm. Others mentioned benefits such as empowerment, validation, and providing a voice for all ideas, feelings, and points of view. 

We can’t NOT hold these difficult conversations about race and racism if we want to provide an opportunity for understanding, tolerance, and acceptance on everyone's part. 

Additionally, the techniques and tools modeled in the webinar could apply to conversations about any difficult subject -- religious differences, anti-LGBTQ issues, and ableism, to name a few.  

None of us has all the answers, but we can prepare, learning more by studying history and current events. We can lean in, finding comfort in discomfort and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. We can learn how to manage situations in which strong emotions are expressed.

Teaching Tolerance’s webinar includes a helpful downloadable resource guide that contains grade level appropriate strategies for classrooms, valuable resources, and graphic organizers.

And one of the best parts? It’s still available to everyone. You can view the one-hour webinar online. Below is the link to Let’s Talk!, which is now offered on-demand with accompanying resources.

So, how comfortable are you discussing race or racism? What experiences have you had you can share with others? How did you feel?

~ xoA ~