Module 26: Connecting in Person with Others

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Module 25: Lifelong Learning for Equity
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Module 26: Connecting in Person with Others
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Module 27: Leveraging Digital Learning Environments

AFTER WORKING THROUGH THIS MODULE, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO:

  • Explain why connecting with others in person is important to your racial equity journey.
  • Describe ways you can connect with others in-person to continue to learn about how to end racism and create equitable and inclusive library programs.

Introduction

As we discussed in Module 25, working to end racism and create inclusive and equitable communities is a lifelong process. We are fortunate to live in a world where we have technologies that allow us to connect with people from across the globe. While we believe in the power of digital technologies to help us continue to learn and to engage in discussions about racial equity, we also recognize the importance of in-person conversations. In face-to-face conversations, we not only rely on words to communicate meaning, but also body language, voice levels and inflection, facial expressions, and eye contact. Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age, argues that in-person conversations have a richness and depth that is often missing from text-mediated conversations. Through in-person conversations, we are able to build bonds that lead to true feelings of connection, connections that generate empathy and support self-discovery.

In this module, we will share examples of potential opportunities to engage in face-to-face interactions.


Equity and Racial Justice Discussion Groups

There are so many important and powerful books, articles, podcasts, and videos out there that address issues related to the topics we’ve been discussing in this curriculum. (Check out the Resource Hub for ideas!)  Talking with other people about what you’re reading, listening to, or viewing is often as important as the “reading” itself. Consider joining an Equity and Racial Justice Discussion Group. Discussion groups provide a brave space to continue to learn; exchange ideas, understandings, and experiences; and discuss actions that individuals and communities can take to address racial inequities. You can start your own discussion group, or in many communities, public libraries or other organizations already hold monthly racial equity discussions. Use your favorite search engine and search terms such as “Racial Equity Book Club,” “Social Justice Book Club,” or “Racial Equity Discussion”‘ to see if there are any in your local community.

Note: Be sure to revisit the module on microaggressions from this curriculum when you are preparing to participate in a racial equity discussion group. When interacting with others in these groups, do not expect BIPOC participants to be “the experts” on entire racial/ethnic groups, and keep in mind that it is not their job to teach others about race and racism.

Read

If you’d like to start your own discussion group but need some ideas about how to get started and structure your group, check out these resources:


Images of Practice - Icon by Adrien Coquet from Noun ProjectImages of Practice

Watch the videos below, in which two former Project READY participants discuss professional learning groups they facilitated with staff at their schools. What is similar about the structure, format, and focus of these groups? What is different? In what ways are the group facilitators serving as leaders, and in what ways are they serving as learners?

Resources discussed in Julie’s video can be accessed at the Mt. Vernon Library website


Caucusing with Affinity Groups

Sometimes it is important for BIPOC and white people to meet separately to talk about issues that are important to them.  Caucusing is one way to provide a space and structure for affinity groups (people with similar racial or ethnic backgrounds) to engage in the racial equity work that speaks to their particular experiences and needs.  By talking with people who belong to the same racial identity group, we are able to explore our own beliefs and those of others,  examine our own biases, and practice talking about difficult issues before we join discussions in mixed racial and ethnic groups.


Read


Equity Teams

Many schools and public libraries have formed equity teams. The goals of these teams vary. School-based equity teams  often seek to advance racial equity by:

  1. Aligning with district-wide efforts to eliminate racial disproportionality in graduation and discipline rates,
  2. Building capacity among principals, teachers, staff, and students in transforming school policies and practices,
  3. Strengthening the voices and participation of students, families, and community to inform school policies, practices, and procedures,
  4. Developing and leading training, professional development and other activities that will allow the school to fulfill its commitment to understanding and working toward racial equity in all aspects of the school’s work.

In public libraries, equity teams often:

  1. Promote institutional change within the organization in order to improve equity outcomes, create equitable policies, and better serve diverse communities,
  2. Study how race impacts the workplace culture and processes,
  3. Facilitate dialog and understanding of racial equity through training and discussion for staff and patrons,
  4. Ensure the inclusion of equity in all decision making processes in the library,
  5. Work to hire library staff who represent the diversity of the community,
  6. Plan community events to foster connections and encourage continuous growth and learning about racial equity and social justice issues that relate to the community.
Becoming a member of your school or library’s equity team provides you with an opportunity to continue to build your skills and to provide leadership around implementing educational opportunities, policies, and programs that further racial equity in your school/library and in your community.

Conferences

There are a number of conferences specifically focused on equity, inclusion, and social justice. These conferences provide a brave space for leadership, professional development, and networking for BIPOC and their allies (or co-conspirators). The connections you make at conferences can help you grow both personally and professionally, but perhaps most importantly, they can make you feel less alone when doing the challenging work of advancing equity.

Here is a list of national conferences to get you started.

 

Go Back:
Module 25: Lifelong Learning for Equity
You Are Here:
Module 26: Connecting in Person with Others
Next:
Module 27: Leveraging Digital Learning Environments