Using Vulnerability to Discuss Racial and Ethnic Inclusion

“I want to start talking about racial equity at my organization but…I don’t know where to start” does this refrain sound familiar? It’s ok. It’s a hard topic to begin to navigate alone, in a non-profit where you may have not had intentional conversations about race before. Starting small can help you begin tackling this elephant of a topic.

1) Evidence. Identify the parts of the organization that are already committed to this (i.e. mandate).

2) First accept that achieving ethnic and racial equity at your non-profit is part of a learning process. Your organization is at a different place than other organizations and different issues may come up as you begin this learning process. You and your colleagues may make mistakes, and unearth conflict you were not prepared for. This is normal, important and healthy in the process of organizational change. This is where vulnerability comes in – do not expect perfection but do encourage bravery to ask tough questions.

3) Start Reading, Listening and Watching. Read the Anti-Racism Organizational Change Project Resources and Tools for Non-Profits. There are plenty of additional readings, videos and podcasts that are included in the AROC Resource and Tools Doc that can help you on your ethnic and racial equity learning journey. Checkout the Unlearning Channel (Available on iTunes, Soundcloud and TuneIn Radio, AROC’s own podcast on journeys through ethnic and racial equity in non-profit organizations featuring local and international experts on this topic.

4) Engage others. As you are learning, reflecting and becoming more aware you may invite other members of your team, supervisors, volunteers and board members into targeted conversations on the topic. Ask them their opinions of equity to gauge if they are ready for further training on the topic. Invite them to take the Organizational Change Self-Assessment to assess their perspectives of ethnic and racial equity. Encourage frank and honest conversations so your colleagues can share their knowledge while being open to learning. Again, using vulnerability as a tool: not everyone has to be perfect but, is willing to expand their understanding of ethnic and racial equity.

5) Increase Capacity. Organize a training session to help increase your organization’s capacity for understanding ethnic and racial inclusion. The AROC Training Manual provides just that. You may want hire a skilled facilitator to help deliver this training to gain the most out of the content. If your organization is interested in addressing organizational racism and becoming more racially equitable, anti-racism training is a critical part of the process. The AROC Advisory Group offers trainings to organizations that would like to take this first step. If you would like to invite the group to train your team, please contact equity@communitywise.net for more information.

These are just the beginning steps. The AROC Resources and Tools provides a host of additional tips, strategies and resources that you and your organization may benefit from

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