I have a new, crazy idea! How about NOT EVER mandating anti-racism trainings for POC (people of color) at work with the White people who have the power to fire them? Yeah, I've never seen or heard of a scenario that brought racial healing and understanding between a boss and their subordinates, when the subordinate points out their racism/sexism/classism...at work...of their boss…in front of the entire office...
Please stop making POC do these things. Please.
If you want white staff to learn about diversity, make them take a training offsite, go to a class or read a book. There are so many other options.
Being anti-racist is a lot of self-work and reflection; probably a lifetime of self-work and reflection. It's a really, really, painful, guilt-inducing, soul-searching, privilege-acknowledging realization that all white people are benefiting from racist structures and institutions at that expense of POC. And most are participating in those structures and institutions with little-to-no awareness of those benefits.
When anti-racism trainings are done correctly, this truth is centered. And it's uncomfortable and painful for the group in power.
If white senior staff understood all the micro-aggressions and racism that their POC staff deals with DAILY, they would have to reconstruct the entire structure of "professionalism" and "work culture."
Lastly, POC, don't fall for the ookie-doke! Even if the White people make ground rules like "what is said in the training, stays in training," calling your boss racist or pointing out when they did something racist IS A TERRIBLE idea!
*To make the training even more torturous for POC, chances are if your boss is white woman, the rest of the training will be devoted to comforting her crying and assuring her she is "not racist!" Don’t say anything! Just try and keep your job! Don't fall for the “let’s learn and change racism in a training” trick!
If organizations are serious about being anti-racist, they would understand the power dynamics of racism and know that there can be "no honest racist revelations" that just stay in the training room.
Please stop making POC do these trainings. At best they are useless, but more commonly they are triggering and dangerous activities. Calling out your boss as racist is dangerous to your job.
There are so many other, more effective ways to become anti-racist, than requiring program POC staff to "teach" senior staff about their racism.
Thanks in advance.
ShaRhonda (who never, ever wants to go to another diversity training with people who have the power to punish and fire participants)
*I obviously don't speak for all POC. And maybe there is an amazing anti/racism training that I just haven't experienced.
ShaRhonda Knott Dawson currently resides in the west suburbs of Chicago with her two girls, and her husband, Brian. She received her master’s degree from The University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, with an emphasis on management and public policy. ShaRhonda has over 15 years experience in nonprofit program management. She also has worked over 20 years as a political organizer, focusing on engaging youth, and people of color.