Conversations in Color: Join us this August

Ben Wiehe - Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

 

 

Conversations in Color

This August we are taking the next step in our listening sessions. Daniel Aguirre has extended the invitation below, and we hope you are able to join us. The important dates to remember (all Eastern times):

You can register for these sessions here, but before you do, it is important that you take the time to read all of this invitation.

 

1. The Listening Sessions: Join in Listen-Only Mode

Earlier this year we held a series of community listening sessions meant to elevate and amplify community voices and their everyday lived experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The entry point to these conversations was the digital divide, but with the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Aubrey as the backdrop, this space put a spotlight on the social and systemic pandemics that communities have been fighting through since the inception of this country.

One of those social pandemics is racism. Our communities cannot afford for race to be excluded from national dialogs and while much of the conversation has centered between Black/African American and White relations, racial healing is not only about Black vs. White. It is also about the healing that needs to happen between all communities of color.

We invite you to listen to three conversations between Black, Latino/a/x, and Afro-Descendant community members. We will be working towards healing as we explore personal realities that prevent us from hearing each other and from aligning our efforts. These conversations are not new, and we honor the work that many have done to make it possible for our voices to be heard. We also acknowledge that the voices you will be hearing from do not represent an entire race or culture. Each person will bring light to their own lived experience.

We’ve set aside time for three conversations:

 

2. Your Listening Partner: Guidance for your private partner conversations

We also extend another important invitation. We invite you to take action by practicing engagement, and initiating your own uncomfortable conversations. We ask our listening audience to identify a person whom you are already connected to from another race or culture, and to ask that person to be your listening/processing partner for this series. The idea is that each of you will listen to each conversation (recordings of conversations will be posted on the same day), keep track of the things that come up for you, and engage in a dialog where you share your own cultural lens.

You may feel challenged by the invitation to initiate your own conversation. This is natural, and we invite you to please push past all of the initial phases of resistance you may be experiencing, and lean into that discomfort with resolve and a genuine desire to listen, learn, and understand.

 

For Black, Indigenous, and People of Color:

  • You do not have to choose a White person to go through this exercise with. As you know, this divide exists within our communities.
  • If you do partner with a White person:
    • you are not there to help alleviate guilt they may be experiencing
    • you are not responsible for displays of fragility
    • you are not there to educate
    • you do not need to defend or justify your thoughts and feelings
    • be clear about your boundaries
  • Take care of yourself first and if you have it in you that day, take care of your partner

 

For White Allies and Aspiring Allies:

  • Understand your partner’s boundaries and respect them
  • Listen without agenda
  • Take on the work of educating yourself: if you have a question that may be basic try looking up answers first
  • Do ask questions when you do not understand
  • Do not lay any feelings of guilt on the shoulders of your partner
  • Accept feedback without attempting to justify or explain
  • Try to be a safe space for your partner and they may return in-kind
  • Take care of yourself and your partner

 

Guidance for your private partner conversations

 

3.The Wrap Up

We will all come back together on September 1st, in order to turn the mic over to you! We want to process as a greater community, starting with the lived experience of communities of color in the audience. If you have checked in with your listening partner before this meeting, we’ll all be eager to hear your thoughts. This session will happen on:

 

We hope:

  • This experience will be messy
  • This experience will be an exercise
  • This experience will help build your endurance to see the work of dismantling inequities through
  • You are able to recognize and set aside your defensive impulse
  • You will feel the love we have
  • You respect the nature of this conversation by taking on the invitation to practice engagement with a partner

 

Register now for these sessions

In an effort to customize support:

  • If you have questions and you are Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color please contact Daniel: danielaguirre101@gmail.com.
  • If you have questions and you are White, please contact Ben: wiehe@mit.edu.

 

Produced by:

Daniel Aguirre, Community Organizer, Science Festival Accelerator Advisory Board Chair, and STEM Consultant with TIES

In collaboration with the Science Festival Alliance and Science Events Summit

With a very special thank you to Cinnamon Clark and the participants joining these sessions as speakers.