Forming a Study and/or Action Group
Using Materials from the Tools for Racial Justice Website
If you can form a group to walk this journey with you, it might make sense to designate a facilitator (no experience necessary) who reads the instructions, reproduces materials that are not copy-protected, coordinates any activities, and is responsible for filling out evaluations. Please note, this is an ongoing project and we value your feedback. Suggestions are essential, as they will be used to revise the Toolkit. It would be wonderful if the facilitator would also be a contact/network person to:
- Let us know what you are doing so we can keep an ongoing list of activity
- Work with us on how to improve the Toolkit experience
- Encourage people to use the Toolkit and resources (and add resources, etc.)
As you become familiar with the material, you are encouraged to get more people to join you. Each item offered in the Toolkit is distinct unto itself so no one will feel they have to catch up if they join in after you’ve been using it for a while. Use the kit at your own pace. It is not expected that you will use everything. The information is cumulative so the more you do the better.
However, sometimes groups feel the need to close membership when enough work has been done that they feel they need to stay as a unit, especially as this sometimes requires very personal and hard emotional as well as spiritual work. It can also be intimidating and sometimes fraught with uncertainty, discomfort, etc. We encourage groups who feel that need to see if someone (or more) from the group would meet with anyone interested to help them think about starting a new group and what has worked well in the original. Any encouragement from those who are already doing it can make a big difference to those considering getting involved or getting back into it after a time away.
We suggest groups that form to do this work establish some ground rules at the beginning, ideally getting the group’s agreement or “buy-in” at the start. These can help a group agree on how it will work together respectfully and effectively and establish trust.
Some ground rules that may be useful are:
- Cell phones should be turned off at the beginning of the workshop and should remain off until the end except during breaks.
- Listen actively — respect others when they are talking, listen and do not interrupt or cross-talk, i.e., talk to someone else when another person is speaking (the exception is calling out someone who seems to be dominating the discussion). If you usually don’t talk in groups, think about trying to speak more, if you tend to speak a lot, think about trying to speak less.
The goal is not always to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding. Try to hear the truth in what is said instead of looking for exceptions to the case.
- Speak from your own experience, personal experiences, personal opinions, thinking, instead of generalizing (use “I” statements rather than “they,” “we,” and “you”).
- Participate to the fullest of your ability — Avoid blaming yourself or others for the misinformation we have learned, but do accept responsibility for not repeating misinformation after we have learned otherwise.
- Avoid side conversations — if you are unclear about the topic being discussed or the instructions, please ask the facilitator to clarify.
- Maintain confidentiality. All stories shared in this space stay in this space unless explicit permission is given by the person sharing the story that it can be shared in another setting.