Examples of Having Courageous Conversations




cityWILD creates learning opportunities for students and staff to gain a broader awareness of racism and the various forms in which it manifests; including the negative impacts of using derogatory racial terms under any circumstances.

cityWILD (http://www.citywild.org/) is a bold attempt to bring the typically exclusive world of outdoor experiential education to a non-traditional audience: low-income youth of color. Youth are empowered to have a voice and a place, and to develop their leadership skills among peers and the greater community.

One of cityWILD's strategies is "Courageous Conversations."

Two focus groups interviews were conducted to provide cityWILD with insight about how youth experience cityWILD activities in relation to their race, language, traditions, and where they live. The staff and board received valuable insights from their participants of youth:

"It is like one big family, directing you inspiring you, teaching new things."

"You can actually trust them and they won't tell anybody."

By engaging in these courageous conversations, cityWILD learned that despite overall opposition to racism, students perceived the use of derogatory terms within their racial peer group as more acceptable than if the same terms were said by someone outside of their racial group.

"My friends be talking like "Beaner." I do not say nothing because we are from the same race. But if someone that is not from the same race calls you something like that you would be mad."


Colorado Women's Agenda

Colorado Women's Agenda utilizes a similar strategy: they call it "caucusing."

"Causing is when white women and women of color break into separate groups to discuss a difficult issue, seek support from one another, gain clarification, etc. In caucuses, we create safe spaces where everyone's voice is heard and where we are all free to express ourselves openly and honestly. After meeting separately, the groups reconvene and spokeswomen choose which contents to share with the larger group. Often new issues arise out of these conversations. These dynamic meetings can have both immediate and long-term results. For example, the most recent caucuses resulted in the rewording of our mission statement."


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