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Conference Speaker Blog: Liberatory Facilitation: Working with Groups to Consciously Empower POC

Tuesday, October 9, 2018   (0 Comments)
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We—Amadee Braxton and Sara Joffe—are looking forward to being with you at the Alliance conference.  We’re excited to hear your stories and experience and to share what we have learned about how to create workshops, meetings and other group gatherings that are welcoming and fully inclusive of people of color.


We have all been in group settings that are awkward, uncomfortable or even painful, with at least one aspect of the negative experience being related to race.  Perhaps race or racism is unspoken but omnipresent, particularly for people of color in the room or in the organization; perhaps there is an undercurrent related to race in the issues being addressed, and no one knows quite how to address them.  Or maybe it’s a majority white group and the people of color are silent; or one person of color calls out the organization on race and no one joins them; or a sub-group can be counted on to raise racial issues and are seen as disruptive. It could also be that a white person uses language that is offensive or triggering to some in the room, and either everyone moves on or someone calls them out in an accusatory way and things get ugly. There are so many more examples of negative racially-based dynamics that we have experienced, as, we imagine, you have as well.


So, what if you are responsible for facilitating such a group?  It can be very challenging, and our default approach can be to do what we’ve always done and hope for the best, or follow what’s normative for this kind of gathering in the organizational setting.  In our conference session, we will provide an alternative lens, an opportunity to explore using these situations as avenues for opening up a dialogue around race that is critical, and empowering people of color to be fully visible, heard and welcomed for the valuable perspective they bring to groups and organizations that aspire to be anti-racist.


We will introduce a tool for effective facilitation with any group, and then delve into what it takes to consciously integrate an awareness of structural racism and racial dynamics as a group leader, particularly in racially mixed groups.  The session will be highly interactive, and will invite participants to explore their own experiences and awareness, and to stretch into some possible discomfort through practice being upfront with a group about their own stake and contribution to addressing race in a group setting.  We will also spend some time examining how to create a cultural environment in a group that counters dominant white supremacist norms, and creates a liberating space for dialogue and different cultural contributions.


We do this work as a bi-racial team of women, one African American and heterosexual, one white and lesbian, both cisgender.  We, and our colleagues at Dragonfly Partners, are passionate about social justice and much of our work is focused on helping organizations to build capacity to address structural racism and create a culture that is welcoming and inclusive of all differences—modeling in our groups and organizations what we want to see in the world.  We hope that our conference session will give you a taste of this, as well as concrete tools to use in your own group facilitation.


Please join us!  Thursday, October 11th at 2pm.


Amadee Braxton, Dragonfly Partners

Sara Joffe, Dragonfly Partners