Lessons Learned from Over 60 Presentations

The way that Resource people are prepared is extremely important in this model. In settings where there has been a history of racial tension, it is very easy to unexpectedly walk into an atmosphere that is toxic. I once did a workshop in the summer heat of a southern city. A number of African-American employees had been ordered to stop work and go to meet a white guy from the North who was going to talk to them about prejudices. These men were laborers who were told to stop in the middle of a dirty job where their clothes were messy and very smelly. They knew that taking time out from this work, meant they would need to do more on this unpleasant job the next day. Their discomfort with being forced into a meeting was very clear and their anger easily shifted onto this stranger who had interrupted them. It took almost an hour to get past their anger and to start to focus on preparation for the prejudice reduction process.

Resource people need to be treated with the greatest level of respect and invited or given the choice to be a participant in the process. They need to be offered a reasonable amount of time to prepare and the timing needs to be planned so there is no major disruption to other demands which might be made of them.

I was once invited to do training with a large organization where there were some legal issues regarding discrimination and racism within this organization. I naively took on the job and discovered that I was immediately perceived as the “enemy” by many participants. The
intense hostility throughout the room interfered with all of my efforts to provide a prejudice reduction workshop The closest parallel advice would be “Don’t go to a party in a house that’s on fire.” I cancelled future presentations, even though the next one was scheduled in Honolulu with NAME (National Association for Multicultural Education) Which is an organization that I have always enjoyed. My apologies to the National Association for Multicultural Education. I know that they would have been a receptive and supportive audience.

Subtle comments and actions can also indicate to a presenter that a session is going well. This can be seen in some of the videos. Participants may choose spontaneously to take coffee or lunch breaks pursuing some of the topics raised and choosing to seek out participants of different social groups than their own.