Anti-racism workshops are relevant wherever change is occurring.
Businesses confronting a multi-cultural workforce and trying to maintain global competitiveness, medical settings where massive healthcare disparities exist, criminal justice and police forces with individuals on the front lines making split-second decisions to stay alive, educational settings, community organizations, faith-based and religious groups, and families. IB&W is relevant wherever the past directly confronts the future and the challenge to reach out and embrace the new America is clear but the method for how to do so is not.
For decades, scientists have studied the factors that predict racism, prejudice and discrimination at the individual, organizational and societal levels. As a result, we understand a great deal about what racism is, how it develops, and under what conditions it may increase and decrease. Less effort, however, has occurred with respect to translating this understanding into change agendas that work, are feasible, and can be evaluated scientifically. Our focus was on developing a feasible and effective workshop experience that creates change. To do this, we were influenced by an innovative integration of several diverse sources:
- A well-articulated scientific theory relevant to the context of modern multi-cultural America
- Psychological research on the nature of racism and how it is enacted in individual interactions; how to effectively change emotions, attitudes, and behavior, and create meaningful human connections; and how to design effective workshop interactions that can create quick and meaningful engagement and change.
- Lessons from real lived experiences of racism, discrimination and segregation from our multi-racial team of Milwaukee community members.
- Feedback from several years of workshop leadership experiences in a variety of contexts around the world.
The result is a workshop experience sequenced to consider the psychological experience of the workshop participant and the necessary ingredients for quickly moving from fear and hesitancy to awareness, courage, compassion, and action. Each element of the program includes structured exercises with scientific backing based on a functional theory of change. Participants work in racially diverse pairs to connect with and understand each other through the mutual exchange of vulnerabilities.