Offering feedback is one method of learning about what is working and what could be improved. Offering feedback is not about judging skills, knowledge, and understanding; neither is it about hurting feelings. Often our habit is to say what we like publicly and what we dislike privately and to someone else. This makes it very difficult to learn from our experience and mistakes. It also creates a climate of distrust. Offering feedback is a tool, which should be used strategically. Because we work in organizations that must think critically, we sometimes have difficulty discerning when critical thinking is helpful and when it becomes important to offer support, regardless of the circumstances. Approval and affirmation are as important as critical thinking; both should be offered at appropriate times.
To give constructive feedback:
Maisha Z. Johnson's article on 3 Things to Consider When Choosing Between Calling Someone Out or Calling Them In.
Maisha Z. Johnson's article on 6 Signs Your Call-Out Isn't Actually About Accountability.
Loretta Ross' article on Calling In Call-Out Culture.
the role of the
The role of caucuses is:
Change team members are people who:
Their job is to develop a group of people who will work together to reach explicitly stated goals in line with the organization’s mission. This involves working with others to:
the role of the
The role of the change team is:
1. to lead and organize the process towards becoming an anti- racist social change organization and help move people into actively supporting (or at least avoid resisting) the changes necessary to move the organization towards that vision
2. to lead and organize a process to evaluate the organization as it is now
3. to lead a process to help the organization vision what it would look like as an anti-racist social change organization
4. to lead a process to establish specific, clear, and meaningful goals for reaching the vision
5. to build community and move the organization to collective action
6. think like an organizer in helping the organization move toward its goals
Use this checklist about once every two or three months to make sure your change team is staying on track:
This principle is grounded in the wisdom of experienced and effective community organizers. To use organizing mind means that we begin by looking around to see who is with us, who shares our desires and our vision. We then build relationships with those people. So, for example, if we find one other person to work with, then the two of us fine another 2 people, then the four of us find another 4 people and so on. Organizing mind is based on the idea of “each one reach one” (with thanks to Sharon Martinas of the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop) in ways that build relationships, community, solidarity, and movements.
Using organizing mind helps us to focus on who and what is within our reach so we can build a larger group of people with whom to work and play and fight for social justice.
This principle is closely tied to the work of Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, 1992), which is its turn based on the work of Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning, 2006). Covey speaks to the importance of focusing on our circle of concern, which helps us build our individual and collective power and effectiveness.
Frankl, a Jewish psychotherapist, was imprisoned in a series of concentration camps during WWII and spent much of his time observing the behavior of his fellow prisoners and the Nazi prison guards. He noticed how some prisoners were more “free” than their guards because of how they used the space between what happened to them and how they chose to respond. Frankl then defined “freedom” as that space between what happens to us and how we choose to respond.
Covey then took this idea and applied it to the circles of concern and influence. The circle of concern includes the wide range of concerns that a person or community has, including everything from a (public) health problem to the threat of war (what happens to us). The circle of influence includes those concerns that we can do something about (how we choose to respond).
Proactively focusing on our circle of influence magnifies it; as a result our power and effectiveness build. Reactively focusing on concerns that are not within our circle of influence, on what’s not working or on what others can or should be doing, makes us much less effective. It also leads us to blame and/or wait for others to change before we act, which leads to a sense of frustration and powerlessness.
The connection to organizing mind is that too often we focus on people who are too far away from us (our circle of concern) rather than on those who are closer who we haven’t yet organized to work with us (our circle of influence).
When we complain “we’re preaching to the choir,” our response is “yes, we need to start organizing the choir.” When we complain about the apathy or disinterest of those we are trying to reach, this is often a sign we are too focused on who is not yet with us and we need to refocus on who is, even if it’s only one or two other people.
We all know how easy it is to “talk the talk” – and the talk of racial justice is deeply compelling. This principle asks us to tie the talk of social justice to explicit goals so that people and communities have a clear sense of what social justice looks like up close and personal. When people in communities or institutions make a race equity commitment, they often have little to no idea of what that commitment means in terms of their role, their job, or their responsibility. Those leading the change must build a team that can help people identify what racial justice looks like in their sphere of influence, whether it is working for a policy goal to stop deportations or an internal organizational goal to insure clear communication across language and cultural differences.
We can use transparency to help people understand complexity and nuance. For example, if we are trying to land on a strategy for taking action, rather than argue that one strategy is the “best” or “right” one when there is disagreement, we can be transparent about the tensions involved in making a choice. Transparency is really useful when we find we are caught between conflicting values or options; rather than force ourselves to take a position, we can make the tension transparent and work collectively to make choices about how to face the tension and learn from the choices.
These 10 principles for taking action were developed as a result of dRworks' experience working with organizations and communities
for over a decade.
Honor & BUILD
think & act
You can use this tool to determine goals and/or to analyze the implications of a key decision related to a goal:
Identify key outcomes (content).
Advance opportunity. Minimize harm. (process)
Determine benefit and burden.
Evaluate. Reflect. Raise racial awareness.