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Say It Like You Mean It: Meaningful Conversations About Oppression

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Monica Wilson

on 27 August 2018

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Transcript of Say It Like You Mean It: Meaningful Conversations About Oppression

Say It Like You Mean It:
Meaningful Conversations About Oppression
Monica Wilson

Racial and Ethnic Background
National origin
Gender Expression
Sexual Orientation
Class and Social Status
Ability and Disability
Religious Affiliation

What's Next?
Continue to challenge yourself and your attitudes, values and behavior.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Understand the dynamics that are happening on your campus and in your community from a variety of perspectives.
Get involved!

Today we'll explore:
Cultural Competence
Transformative Conversations
Next steps
Discussion Agreements
Our Barriers
Our Tools
Our Experiences
Partner up:
2 minutes each to recount a
time when you successfully
engaged in a potentially contentious conversation
about oppression.

Maintenance of Oppression
Interpersonal harassment
Inappropriate jokes
Personal beliefs and attitudes

Policies and procedures
Hiring and firing
Institutional knowledge and values
Exclusive private organizations
(Fraternities/sororities, scouts, etc.)
Inaccessible establishments

Reinforcement of "normal"
Social fabric and structure
Inter-institutional dynamics
Cumulative effects

Our individual biases
Cultural norms
Past experiences
Concern over doing it right
Fight or flight

Common Pitfalls:
Saving face
Wanting to win
Start with the Heart
Our stories
Dual Processing
Others individual biases
Group, institutional and structural
maintenance of oppression
Fear of change

Why did it go well?
What did you do that was beneficial to the conversation?
Who was on the other side of the table?
How did they contribute to the conversation/situation in a positive way?
How would you improve on the conversation if you had the chance to do it again?
"Experiencing chronic microaggressions can act as a form of trauma for some, particularly because microaggressions’ frequent invisibility often denies targets the agency to claim being discriminated against. Microaggressions work to perpetuate stereotypes and social inequalities that constrain the behavior and possibilities of individuals with marginalized identities." Brookshire, 2013
Maintain appropriate eye contact
Quiet your mind
Avoid interrupting or offering solutions
Ask questions during pauses to gain further understanding
Cultivate empathy
Notice non-verbal cues
Respect privacy

What's your Motivation?
Let your motivation and passion be your your north star and not only guide you, but inform your actions and behavior.
How will you know that you've gotten what you want if you aren't clear about what you want to begin with?
"It is the most talented, not the least talented, who are continually trying to improve their dialogue skills."
Patterson, 2002

Your actions, words and behaviors should intentionally line up with your motivation and goals. Behaving with this sort of integrity will help others take you seriously and value your insight even when they disagree.
Interrupt the dominant narrative
What is the dominant narrative in the U.S.?
How do folks outside of the "norm" fit into this narrative?
How is your story different?

Telling your story lets you connect with people who have had similar experiences and open connection with people who may seem very different.

Actively listening to the stories of those around us gives us the opportunity to build trust and expand our pool of understanding.

Take Control
Taking control of your story allows you to make decisions about how to interact with your emotions. Either you take control of your emotions or let them take control of you.

Content and Conditions
Know your:
Physical indicators
emotional responses
behavioral changes

Paying attention to these non-verbal cues will help you keep your finger on the pulse of the conversation.

Separate the person
from the problem
Refrain from personal attacks and take care to keep in mind that a person, while emotionally attached to a position or outcome, is not the problem.
"Respect is like air. If you take it away, it's all people can think about. The instant people perceive disrespect in a conversation, the interaction is no longer about the original purpose--it is now about defending dignity."
Patterson, 2002
Interests over positions
"Your position is something you have decided upon. Your interests are what caused you to so decide."
Fisher and Ury, 1983
Focusing on interests gives you the opportunity to build rapport and find mutual interests even when your positions differ.
Finding mutual purpose
Commit to seek mutual purpose
Recognize the purpose behind the strategy
Invent a mutual purpose
Brainstorm ideas
Interrupting others
Stopping a behavior
Gaining/maintaining safety in the moment
Opening up dialogue--not about winning/changing minds
Skills to Cultivate
A. Think well of others.
B. Demonstrate patience.
C. Know your objective when interrupting.
D. Share new information or knowledge.
E. Demonstrate your leadership skills.
F. Don’t lecture, converse.
G. Always be interruptible.
Other Side
Stop your behavior/language immediately
Let go of justification
Behave without revenge or retribution
Acceptance of difference as a positive attribute, actively working
towards cultural competence.

Example: I am really looking forward to my cultural competency workshop, I have so much to learn!

Increasing cultural knowledge through diversity trainings, workshops, discussions with others and self-education to better understand and relate to others.

Example: In response to conversations about strategic planning my collegues and I have began an informal electronic reading group by sharing current events and articles about how oppression impact the communities that we serve.
Applying what you have learned in an adaptation of your approach to the needs and communication styles of the diverse populations around you.

Example: The way that I have always done things isn't the only way, and it certainly isn't the only right way. I'm going to be cognizant of my privilege and engage those around me to ensure the practices and procedures we engage in are representative of folks from cultures and communities that I am not a part of so that everyone will feel included and welcome.
Expanded comfort zone. Know and use the tools, practices, and skills to relate to a wide range of people while feeling comfortable in doing so.

Where have you seen Intercultural Skillfulness on the Clark Campus?
What ways could Clark become more Culturally Competent?
No value is placed on difference, each person is approached as
an individual regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation, and so forth.

Example: I don't see (fill in the blank), we're all the same on the inside

Recognize difference while realizing that it holds some value to the individual and their relationships.

Example: I thought the joke was funny but a number of people in the breakroom went silent after I told it. I guess it could be seen as offensive to some people. I guess I should be careful about what I say around certain people.
Discussion Agreements:
1. Treat yourself and your colleagues with respect and kindness
2.Safety over comfort
4.Speak from your own experiences.
5. Listen
Active Listening
A. Ask clarifying questions.
B. Speak from personal experience.
C. Use statistics or facts.
D. Use humor when applicable.
E. Make/include positive comments.
F. Use “I statements."
G. Don’t accuse or attack.
H. Give an invitation to dialogue.
I. Be non-judgmental.
Intentions vs. Impact
"That wasn't my intention."
Make sure your words line up with your intentions
Be prepared to take accountability
Be willing to seek out and accept new information
Schilling, 2012
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