Does the word "Volunteer" exclude BIPOC communities?
Anyone who manages volunteers in any capacity is invited to join MAVA’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color and White Allies Affinity Groups. “Affinity groups” are opportunities for people who share a common experience or identity to connect.
All participants will start in the same Zoom meeting room for a short welcome, and then we will break out into the affinity groups. Each participant will be able to choose which group to join. We ask that you please choose the group that you personally identify with or choose the group that is open to all identities. For this meeting we will discuss the topic: Does the word "Volunteer" exclude BIPOC communities?
Here is a link to the questions that will guide our discussions: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1R8zZdKySZMAFXw3iMpvbw7S4IQk-1ieHbujg6hJM5nU/edit?usp=sharing
To create a safer environment that encourages conversation and honesty, affinity group meetings will not be recorded.
There is no cost to attend, but we ask that you please register in advance to receive the Zoom link. All are welcome!
At MAVA we recognize that conversations about equity are often difficult, and that having norms and protocols to guide these conversations is helpful. We ask all participants attending the BIPOC Affinity group meetings to read the following protocols and reflect on how they may invite you to adapt your approach to these conversations.
These protocols have been adapted from a resource by Cultures Connecting, LLC; Adapted from Singleton, G.E., Linton, C (2006) Courageous Conversations about Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.
Try to stay present in the conversation, as discomfort can be a normal part of courageous conversations. Resist the urge to check your email, phone or the news. Stay engaged with the topic and resist the urge to shut down or check out.
Speak Your Truth
Share your own lived experience, but do not speak for others. Remember that people may be in different places with this work. Think before speaking. Understand that others may respond emotionally to your words. Be prepared to sit with and learn from that discomfort.
It is natural to want to “fix” another person’s pain or discomfort, but sometimes this discomfort is either part of the learning process or a feeling that cannot easily be fixed. If you find yourself wanting to fix a situation or make someone feel better, reflect on what is going on with you.
In having conversations about equity it’s important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Do not confuse safety and comfort – you can have safe conversations while feeling uncomfortable. Avoiding conversations to preserve the comfort of the dominant culture is a method of perpetuating inequity.
The more you are willing to risk, the more potential you have to learn. An important part of authentic engagement is taking risks.
Listen for Understanding
Listen for understanding instead of thinking about how you will respond. Do not compare your experiences with those of others. If someone tries to explain how something you said left them feeling, avoid the temptation to rationalize your statement. Understand that impact is greater than intent.
Expect and Accept Non-Closure
Dominant cultural norms focus on the product, not the process. Conversations about equity are process conversations where greater awareness leads to future change. Expect that some conversations will feel unfinished or lack closure. Use this as an opportunity to continue these conversations.
Participants are expected to be respectful at all times. Any rude or disruptive behavior, attempts to antagonize presenters or other participants, or efforts to derail the conversation will result in one warning from the event hosts and then removal from the virtual event if the behavior continues.
Engaging in any of the above behaviors may result in immediate removal from the meeting. MAVA staff members reserve the right to remove any participant at any time. MAVA staff members may not be present in every conversation. If you experience or notice statements or behaviors that demean, marginalize, threaten or harm anyone during the conference, please contact your session presenter or the MAVA staff contact for your session as soon as possible. We share these protocols so that our time together can be educational, supportive and, most importantly, safer* for all participants. We understand that people make mistakes and say the wrong thing, and our expectation is that participants listen to the feelings of others, accept any harm they may have caused, and move forward with a better understanding. The goal of these protocols is not to scare participants away from difficult conversations, but rather to offer a framework for how to have these conversations in a thoughtful, authentic and respectful way. Conversations around equity can be challenging, but it is only through having these conversations and learning and growing together that we will shape a new, more equitable future for our field.
*We use the word “safer” because no space can be entirely safe for everyone and not everyone experiences spaces in the same way.