“Assumptions: Teaching About Race & Racism”

By Daryl H. Thorne, Creator of 2ruthTalk
February 26, 2019

Race, one of the most misunderstood,highly charged, (socio-politically) confounding and empowering concepts created by man. Yet, there are inherent challenges engaging the topic – consciously wrestling with meaningful insights whether your own or another person’s – as, understandably, it is the thing that (almost) universally causes people some level of internal discomfort for varying reasons. This holds true for those of us who either teach courses or provide training related to this topic. Part of the reason is that as a facilitator of sorts, it becomes our responsibility to provide students/participants with information (and, hopefully, experiences) that educate, stimulate, challenge, and positively provoke newfound awareness that may, or may not, resonate in that internal personal space that allows one to sleep as soundly at night. The previous statement assumes a healthy engagement of documented and experiential truths about the matter, as opposed to slanted versions that aim to support a white supremacist narrative.

“A Note About Facilitator/Teacher Fitness for This Type of Engagement…”

Everybody who is tasked with this extraordinarily laden responsibility is NOT designed for it. The assumption that the teacher or facilitator is somehow the “expert” on all things related to the ideology of race and/or racism is, objectively, false. This said (or written, as is the case), those who take the time to consistently, and with reverence, reflect and sit-with their own reality of race – the privileges and oppression, the nuanced and blatant experiences of projections, and receptions of the ism, and the internal battles that occur within – AND who can speak to their subjectivity, biases, and relative ignorance therein, tend to present themselves as more empathetic without coming across as patronizing or condescending. It seems to me, that teachers/facilitators who do their own self-work, without apology, are better able to step into these roles with more ease than those who have yet to immerse themselves into the inherent discomfort that comes with the territory. Immersion precedes intense feelings and self-exploration related to the impact of race. This is a heuristic process. This means that to be consciously vulnerable to matters of race and its impact on oneself and society, you must be open to immersing oneself in it – being aware of the relative privileges and/or oppression that come with it without defaulting to deflection, denial, or defensiveness – to better understand its significance on individual and societal well-being or detriment. This can be quite difficult because these descriptors signal the essence of feeling pain/discomfort on a psychic level, which can be more disconcerting and longstanding than physical pain. And, who can maintain a meaningful and healthy existence with constant low-lying pain? I ask you to think about the ways your body and psyche carry the pain of race (ism).

Until next time…

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