Notes for the 12/2/15 Trainers Network – How to Talk About Anti-Black Racism with Family Members: Holiday Edition

Facilitators: Krystal Leaphart, Jessie Sheffield, and Sasha W. 

Overview Notes

Community Norms:
- People of color do not equal Black
- Center Black lives
- Defer to Black people
- Believing the stories for Black lives
- Showing up is a start, but not the final answer.
- If you’re comfortable, you aren’t trying.
- We (facilitators) aren’t the authorities or here to provide answers – this is a process of unlearning & thought.
- Call in, be accountable.
- Love is always at the center.

Helpful strategies for calling in:
- Seeing people as true potential allies, not problems to solve
- Starting where they’re at
- Asking questions
- Finding common ground
- Active listening
- Having a genuine interest in where they’re coming from
- Caring
- Validating feelings
- Acknowledging good intentions
- Offering tools

Unhelpful strategies:
- Trying to prove a point
- Relying on abstract data
- Generalizations
- Entering into the conversation with the goal of changing their mind right then
- False curiosity
- Intellectualizing

- What Worked
o Specific examples
o Staying calm
o Asking questions
o Affirming intention
o Humanizing stories
o Dispelling myths
o Ask them to explain
o Admit when I do wrong
o Know people’s limitations
o People-centered, coming from love
o Empathy: not us v. them
o Being forgiving
o Realistic expectations
- What Didn’t Work
o Staying on surface
o Silence
o Violence
o Overthinking
o Overexplaining
o Drifting
o Answering everything
o Focusing on definitions
o Being angry
o Swapping anecdotes
o Being abstract
o Saying “that’s not nice”

- Black
o More info on “directly-affected Black folx”
 Folx who live in public housing
 Youth
 Elders
o How to cultivate Black leadership?
 Political education
 Capacity building
o How to uplift Black narratives & stories not always told?
o How does spokescouncil differ from other groups?
 Housing
 Dignity
 Jobs
o How to organize with folx living this day to day?
 Barry Farms outreach day
 Political education on gentrification
 More trainings
 Spokescouncil serves as convener of groups to bring together, information-sharing, collaboration space & cultivating Black leadership
 Gentrification tour/takeovers of land
 List of usable targets, community allies, representatives
 Spokescouncil bodies:
• Strategy
• Media/communications
• policy/legislative
• Direct action
o Demand: change affordable housing definition
o Hurdles
 White faces
 White leaders taking up space speaking for our communities
 Need to own our narratives
- Non-Black POC
o Deconstruct news media
 Disconnect from personal story
o Afro-Latina, multiracial families
o Making it personal
o Micro/macro aggressions
o Conflict avoidance
o Talking about our experiences/experiences of people we know
o Asking our families about their own stories/histories
o Ask simple questions to get to the root of racism
o Knowing histories & being ready to explain
o Attack problem, not person
 i.e. “What you just said is really hurtful, it sounded like this,”
- White
o Shared visions & goals
 Make links/intersectional framework
 Connect to white supremacy pillars
• Housing
• Gentrification
• School to prison pipeline
• Pic/mass incarceration
 Abolition
o Needs
 Accessible language
 Brainstorming session
 Transformation
 Shift consciousness
 Elevate most directly affected voices
o Week of action
 Barry Farms event outreach, teach-in, forum
• Links to housing, displacement, gentrification
• Groups: Empower DC, BFAA
• Pre-event outreaching – door-knocking
• Dec. 9 mtg.
• Allies demand: provide transportation to Barry Farms residents
 Mayor Wake Up Call
• List of demands
• Big press show
• Other events
• Groups: BYP100, ONE DC
 14th & U St. March
• Unions, low-wage workers, gentrification
 Anti-Bush Company Action
• Museum Sq. owners
• API Resistance
 Latinxs 4 Black Lives
• Solidarity event
• Columbia Heights
• Groups: MLOV, Madre Tierra Collective
 Fund Black Futures placeholder
• Groups: BYP100
 Think about outreach to down folx in NAACP & Urban League, Law4BlackLives
 Next steps
• Plan respective week of actions
• Call/in-person meeting
o Center for Community Change
o Sunday 1 PM


Black Affirmations
- Ella Baker
- Ebonics = culture
- Hands off Assata!
- Respectability 
- Justice 4 Black women & girls
- Black Girls Rock!
- Organizer
- It is our duty to fight for our freedom
- Africa
- Lift every voice & sing
- For Harriet
- Black women matter
- We’ve never been & never will be a monolith
- Resist
- Thank you to the black men who have never shown violence towards me
- Break the chains
- We gon be Alright
- ALL #BlackLives Matter
- Love at the center
- #HBCUPride
- #BlackJoy
- Twerk
- We are beautiful. We are loved. And collectively we are powerful beyond measure
- Civil Rights
- Protect Black trans fam
- I love myself
- Activist
- We have nothing to lose but our chains
- #BisonLove
- Flawless***
- #FistUpFightBack
- Black joy = worldwide joy

Take Aways
- It’s okay if you don’t have a perfect response immediately – this is a movement and a process and we are constantly learning.
- Talk, don’t yell, and maybe they’ll hear you!
- We have to build each other up in our fight anti-black racism.
- Come from love – come from your heart.
- Every person struggles with addressing these issues.
- Embrace defining victory in fluid & evolving ways.
- Recognizing folks’ limitations
- Ask questions
- Share my own experiences (how I’ve benefitted from white supremacy or witnessing racism)
- Be in the relationship
- Re: “sketchy neighborhoods” – don’t equate persona discomfort with a lack of safety
- Easy to set overly passionate and difficult to be patient, but need to people in with love.
- Focus on relationship & points of connection
- It’s okay not to respond on the spot or have all the answers but remember to follow up
- Asking questions helps my family members pull apart their assumptions
- Not centering our white selves or coopting a conversation
- Meet people where they are
- Keep pushing my comfort zone by remaining open to possibility
- I’m not alone. Many mothers refuse to meet their daughter’s boyfriend because he’s black.
- Practice makes perfect.
- Racist comments are not conquered in an evening
- Words matter
- Ask questions, especially the ones you don’t have answers to
- Use personal feelings to address racist comments
- Not about my white sorrow/rage
- I’m not so different in my strengths and weaknesses. I’m like everyone else sometimes, stunned into silence.
- Positive focus, not accusatory
- Make people fear oppression, not feelings
- Active listening
- More safe spaces to discuss are needed
- Be more direct in the discussion – don’t dance around the issue as much
- The most effective way to reach another person is through relationship and connection
- I need to learn how to do this with kindness.
- How to come back from abstraction, even for my numbers-oriented dad.
- Small wins & baby steps are okay.
- Do this with support from others!
- Not every response needs to be perfect, and a good conversation doesn’t necessarily need “facts” to be effective!

- Learning more stories from parents – racist experiences
- Address family microaggressions
- Accept it’s my responsibility to talk to people about this
- Be assertive & calm
- I commit to talk with family about gun control and connect it to anti-blackness and racism
- To show up for black lives from a place of love and not a place of self-righteousness
- Get away from always intellectualizing issues of racial justice
- Talk to dad about hip hop
- Take a deep breath
- Pick my opportunities wisely
- Plant a seed
- Start with you
- Not just pushing back on racism but moving towards pulling people into anti-racist work
- To figure out who I can work toward racial justice in white communities
- To communicate more openly
- I can’t give you a full answer right now, but I want to address it
- To be committed to engaging with my family about racial justice, and to actively bring up difficult conversations
- Speak up every time I hear a racist comment
- Forget myself & my own fear of judgement
- More trainings & more conversations
- Practice; unlearn racism
- Write down the best wisdom I heard tonight in order to reflect on it
- To challenge friends’ racist comments with questions or attempts to have a conversation
- To speak from the heart, rather than overthink every response
- Follow up on Thanksgiving convo I avoided
- Try to speak up rather than think there is no point
- To encourage myself to stick through the uncomfortable situations in order to improve my understanding as an ally
- Initiate dialogue with my parents
- Keep learning
- Deconstruct the comment
- Ask why? And then ask why again
- Persist and build relationships
- I will commit to progressing on my personal work so I can begin to spread light in a wider circle
- I will start with questions and not with judgments
- Commit to unpacking “violence” within protest culture
- I commit to sharing how I feel about “stunning” comments
- Reframing conversations to be more human and less academic
- Engage people with conversations about race, even when it’s hard
- To keep working on it


To prepare for training: 

Racist Relative

Calling In

More specific:

Problems with Calling Someone Racist

Talking with Kids (short)

Talking with Kids (longer)

3 min. video from Chescaleigh:

5 Comebacks for your racist relative during the holidays

Further Reading for White Folks:

Culture Shift (to be referenced in white break-out caucus)

Talking to White Folks

Talking to/Investing in Relationships with White Folks

Further Reading for Non-Black People of Color Caucus