The “Inclusive Conversations: Can We Talk?” workshop last Thursday aimed to create a “brave space” to make conversations about race less uncomfortable while inspiring attendees to keep learning from each other.
Brave space recognizes that we all have room to grow and encourages people, especially white people, to not be passive in conversations.
Before beginning small-group discussions in breakout rooms, facilitators polled attendees. 80% of the workshop’s participants responded that they had experienced or witnessed a microaggression both at work and in their personal life. When asked how they responded to it, 40% said that they spoke up and challenged what was said, while 40% stayed quiet.
When you see a microaggression happen, keep the VCR Model in mind: validate the person that committed the microaggression and help them see the conversation as an opportunity to grow, challenge/confront the statement that was problematic, and request a concrete way for the person to respond to the challenge. If you yourself committed a microaggression, breathe, be grateful that someone has taken the risk to tell you that they’ve been hurt, listen, reflect, apologize, and learn.
Next, colleagues entered small-group breakout discussions with 2-4 others that they regularly talk to.
Afterwards attendees said it was worth it. The small, more intimate setting of the breakout groups provided the opportunity to hear different perspectives and empower those who may have otherwise felt uncomfortable asking questions or speaking up. They also noted that speaking with people that they already knew made the discussion more free flowing and comfortable.
At the end of the workshop, participants and facilitators agreed that the process of taking steps to engage in difficult conversations with each other was just as important as the content of those conversations. Lastly, facilitators encouraged participants to acknowledge the feelings that may have erupted during the workshop, not to brush them away, and to take part in a self-care activity afterwards.
If you participated in Inclusive Conversations, take a minute to tell us about it by filling out this survey: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3a7zgP2C4FCMkZM