I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the Kellogg Foundation’s National Day of Racial Healing this week. Our CFAES office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion partnered with many of our OSU Extension professionals to offer truly excellent professional development, panel discussions, and engaged dialogue around understanding racial injustice, race relations, personal accountability, and what we each can do (personally and professionally) to address racial healing.
We are also beginning to focus this year on racial literacy by reading and discussing Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. About 100 professionals signed up to participate in a facilitated monthly discussion around each chapter of the book. I am looking forward to participating; and I know we will learn a great deal about ourselves and one another as we engage in thoughtful discussion around diversity, equity, and inclusion. The team leading this effort has identified a variety of expectations for participation that I think have great value beyond the book club; and I thought I would share some of them here so we can consider how we engage around difficult topics as an organization:
- Speak from your experience only. No one is a spokesperson for an entire group.
- Assume positive intention, but own your impact.
- If you are upset or offended, say so, and say why.
- No shame or blame - be gracious and remember we are all learning.
- Listen to understand, not to respond.
- Try leaning into the discomfort that these conversations can sometimes evoke.
- Be empathetic and compassionate - toward others AND yourself.
- WAIT - Why Am I Talking? Why am I Not Talking?
- Be respectful, even if you disagree with something.
- It's OK to disagree, but don't make it personal. Stick to the issue. No name-calling or put-downs.
Even if you are not formally part of the book discussion, please consider reading this title on your own this year, or choosing another book to focus on racial literacy.
Finally, we have identified an Ohio team to participate in a national training called Coming Together for Racial Understanding. This team is made up of Steve Brady, Nicole Debose, Leo Taylor, and our Central State University Extension partner Anthony Barwick. They are participating in an intensive five-week, 10-session (four hours each) training on how to engage in, facilitate, and train others to have civil discourse around race relations. Our goal is to identify best practices and a plan for internal discourse as an organization and then as support for community partners to learn these methods to implement locally. Stay tuned!