(Synopsis of the book “Racial Healing” by R. Newkirk/N. Rutstein)
Madison Wisconsin Institute for the Healing of Racism, Inc.
A document that describes a session of racial healing
Our immediate focus is on Racial Conditioning. A major goal with each session is to educate the mind and heal the heart. Please be aware that within one series of ten two-hour sessions, we are just touching on the Racial Healing process, therefore participation in more than one series is recommended.
It is the consensus of many experts on anti-racism that a mix of ethnicity is an enhancement to the group, but is not necessary for one’s healing. As Judy Katz states in White Awareness: “In efforts to deal with that pervasive disease racism, human relations practitioners have become increasingly convinced that the American form of the disease is most effectively treated as a White problem that severely damages its White victims, as well as those against whom it is directed. More, since White racism is a White problem, it is the business of White people to resolve it. We must not place the burden of changing White attitudes and behavior upon the members of minority races. It is not their responsibility to help us to change. The responsibility/accountability is ours.”
We believe that a vindictive attitude toward the oppressor or oppressed is not of a healing nature. Our philosophy advocates forgiveness.
TOPICS: Overview of ten week session
1. Introduction: History of Racism
Week One/History of Racism: Where, when and how it all started (i.e. in the Americas).
2. How Racism is Perpetuated
Week Two/How Racism is Perpetuated: Systemic application. The (mis)education we receive in school supported by additional myths (disguised as truth) that we learn from our families, friends, media and so forth.
3. Pathology of Racism As a Disease
Week Three/The Pathology of Racism: Racism as a disease that no one is immune to. It manifests in different ways in different people for a variety of reasons but we are all affected. It can take the form of internalized racism, institutionalized racism or other forms of racism. It may be obvious or subtle but it is an integral part of our culture and it must be exposed in its many forms for it to be dismantled. We will not deal with other isms. The focus here is on race.
4. Oneness of Humankind
Week Four/The Oneness of Humankind: We all emanated from the same ancestors about 250 thousand years ago when our species homo sapiens was formed. And the place of the birth of our species is Africa. As the original homo sapiens ventured to different parts of the world, they took on different physical characteristics to adapt to different environments.
“And when one day our human kind becomes full-grown, it will not define itself as the sum total of the whole world’s inhabitant, but as the infinite unity of their mutual needs”. (Frantz Fanon: “The Wretched of the Earth”)
5. Institutionalized Racism
Week Five/Institutionalized Racism: Systemic, i.e. Church, Education, Medicine, Prisons, Media, Finance, etc. Jim Crow and legal discrimination ended with the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s, however, the essence of racism is still virulent. It is tightly woven into the fabric of virtually every institution such as the institutions of education and the criminal justice system.
6. White Privilege
Week Six/White Privilege: Unearned benefits of a particular group (birth rights). The presumption of superiority whether intentional or unintentional, conscious or unconscious.
7. Local Issues
Week Seven/Local Issues: As related to Week Five (Institutionalized Racism). To be defined.
8. Ally Building
Week Eight/Ally Building: Points of action procedures to combat racism. Joining with people of like mind.
9 & 10. Fear/Action
Weeks Nine and Ten/Fear and Action: How to handle the fear of speaking out/confronting/intervention/action. Active procedures toward success at home, community, workplace etc. Role Playing
TYPICAL SESSION FORMAT
First there is often a participant who wants to share a recent experience or article related to a former topic addressed. This nurtures a warmth between members.
Next, the two co-facilitators give a presentation on a different topic each week. Video clips are used. Entire video can be shown and processed at a later date through a Book/Video especially arranged meeting requested by participants. Because of limited time, the Institutes suggest that there should not be any interruptions, i.e. questions, at this time. BUT, any and all questions/input can be addressed at a later time, such as right after the meeting or another proposed suitable time. We encourage the seeking mind and lots of study. The book Racial Healing by Rutstein/Newkirk helps in understanding the format. However, reading of the format description sent with registration confirmation will give a working understanding for participation. A definition of dialog as adverse to discussion is talked about here.
Next we reflect on a certain subject(s) for five minutes, for example “what feelings and images come to you when you think about Arthur Ashe saying, ‘Race is for me a more onerous burden than AIDS. My disease is the result of biological factors over which we… have had no control. Racism… is entirely made by people, and therefore it hurts… infinitely more.’ (Arthur Ashe: Days of Grace),”
After the reflection we pair off (Dyads). Each person of the pair takes a turn speaking for five minutes about the feelings and images which surfaced during the reflection while the other person listens in a focused, supportive manner saying nothing but listening compassionately with the heart (dialog vs. discussion). The second person to speak does not in any manner mention any part of the first speaker’s text.
Next, the whole group comes together again. Anyone who feels moved to share personal thoughts and feelings on the subject may do so. This is called a testimony with emphasis on the “I,” i.e. relating to innermost emotions not lectures. Co-facilitators are there to compassionately keep things on track for the comfort of all involved. A testimony of two to three minutes is ideal and gives everyone time for testimony not relating to any part of a former testimony (dialog vs. discussion).
At this time, we are reminded of the “Guidelines to Sharing” by each of us, in turn, reading aloud one of the twenty-one guidelines, reflecting on it for several seconds and passing it on to the next person in the circle. Co-facilitators are encouraged by the Institutes to administer the importance of the guidelines.
GUIDELINES: To be defined on request.
- Sharing is voluntary.
- We want to create a safe, loving, and respectful atmosphere.
- Sharing is about one’s own feelings, experiences and perceptions, etc.
- We are not always going to agree, or see everything the same way, and that’s okay.
- Each person has a right to and responsibility for his or her own feelings, thoughts and beliefs.
- It is important to avoid criticism or judgment about another person’s sharing and point of view of his/her feelings.
- Avoid debate and argument. It rarely changes anything or anyone, and tends to ultimately inhibit the sharing.
- We can only change ourselves. Our change and growth may, however, inspire someone else.
- Refrain from singling out any individual as “representing ” his or her group.
- It is important to give full attention to who ever is talking.
- Feelings are important.
- We will surely make mistakes in our efforts, but mistakes are occasions for learning and forgiving.
- Knitting, needle working and note passing have been proven to be a distraction.
- We may laugh and cry together, share pain, joy, fear and anger.
- Hopefully, we will leave these meetings with a deeper understanding and a renewed hope for the future of humanity.
- No cross talking or debate.
- No talking to person next to you while a testimony is being given.
- No unsolicited advice.
- Confidentiality. What is shared (testimony) remains here.
- Do not regret saying any part of your testimony.
- We came together to try to learn about the disease of racism and promote a healing process.
After that we wind things up, bringing the session to a close.
Thanks to all participants
NOTE: A participant would have had to attend three ten week series before becoming a potential facilitator if so desired.
A PARTICIPANT’S EXPERIENCE
When I first became involved with this process, I felt it was very nice, but might never have the major impact we need.
Then I read Racial Healing by Nathan Rutstein and Reginald Newkirk. It tells about how Starr Commonwealth, one of America’s leading human service institutions, headquartered in Albion, Michigan, required all six hundred employees to participate in two day racial healing workshops.
The effect was dramatic. Participants openly proclaimed the experience was life changing. Today there is genuine harmony where there was formerly only a pretense of it. Staff was so excited, they spread the word, and soon two day workshops were happening all over the area, then spread to neighboring counties.
The editor of the largest daily newspaper in the county participated in a workshop and wrote in a column: …the deep in the heart hope it gave seminar participants. Hope that there is a way to cure the disease of racism — one that’s much more effective than the traditional “fixes,” such as multicultural programs and affirmative action policies.
With the support of this group, I’m reading and learning more about racial conditioning all the time.
I was quite amazed when I first started to realize that we all i.e. Black/White/Asian Americans/Hispanics and Native Americans are suffering from racism. I decided to make a list of all the ways I could see this:
Ways I feel, as a white person, deprived because of racial conditioning. (Some of these things may exist on an unconscious level, but affect us just the same.) Through the Institutes I learned that in transformation (self identity), people of color go through 5 stages and that whites go through 6 stages. (See Tatum/Helm/Cross)
- I become fearful, paranoid.
- I become isolated and have an inability to experience feelings of the oneness of humankind.
- I feel guilt.
- I feel shame for both our present and historical behavior.
- I feel more likely to have repressive tendencies.
- I engage in denial and escapist behavior.
- I suffer from feeling rejected/resented/hated being of the oppressor group.
- I am unable to see reality clearly.
- The injustice system promotes unbalanced incarceration, suffering, war, murder, and unequal treatment because we believe we’re superior and that others don’t matter because they’re “less than.”
- We have smaller, cramped lives where genuine feelings of love, caring, community, and joy tend to be smothered – thusly voiding enhancement.
I want racial healing for myself because I will obtain major, direct benefits. I don’t want to “help” someone else in a condescending way. Making this list was a real awakening for me. In the past I had been taught it was my duty to help those less fortunate. I had no idea that we all as human beings are less fortunate if we deny the oneness of humankind.
A quote from Lila Watson speaks well to this issue:
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine then let us work together.”