It is my intention to learn from each interaction *by observation*, when possible. I have been taught that it is not respectful to ask my friends who are Native American, people of color, or otherwise discriminated against to point out when my behavior is causing suffering. It is not their role to correct me, it is my responsibility to learn on my own, from research and from conversations with others of a dominant culture, when my implicit bias, my privilege, and dare I say my racist behavior is showing up.
Following my path to understand how my perspective as a white, cis-gendered, difAbled, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual woman is affecting my relationships with those of non-dominant cultures has lead me to read a terrific book called Farming While Black. In her book, the author and Co-Founder of Soul Fire Farm, Leah Penniman generously shares her Listening Framework for Creating Interracial Alliance. I am grateful to Ms. Penniman for providing this framework to her readers, which helps me understand how I can honor my friends and colleagues of color, as well as those in other oppressed communities, and learn how not to cause them suffering during our interactions.
The Listening Framework for Interracial Alliances includes the following components:
- Center relationships.
- Pass the mike (sic).
- Welcome feedback.
- Cultural deference.
- Facilitate the transfer of skills.
- Pay well.
- Make it easy.
- Pass the oars.
- Ask why you want to work with people of color.
Out of respect for Ms. Penniman I encourage you to purchase a copy of Farming While Black to see the complete Framework. Please reach out if you would like to explore together Ms. Penniman’s Listening Framework. I’m interested in developing a community of practice in the Mohawk Valley, or through an online forum such as Zoom.
Below are other values which guide how I show up in the world.
Value Beyond Cost: Whether our time together is for days or for years, the value of the outcome will well outlast the cost to create it.
Uncertainty & Change: Everyone lives with uncertainty and change, moment to moment. Recognizing this increases resiliency, and the ability to adapt. It’s also a lot more fun than worrying!
Unique Genius: When we’re engaged with our Unique Genius, with work that brings out the best of us, and what we have to offer, we’re contributing to the greater good. Why shouldn’t we get paid for that!
Transparency: This is built into everything I do. You can ask me anything.
Synergetic Genius: When we’re each aligned with our Unique Genius, we create synergy that expedites positive outcomes, and creates efficiency.
Safe Space: I represent the community, and the mission to hold a safe space, so you can concentrate on what’s important for you, the project, and the team.
Recognizing DifAbility: Many people refer to people who do not possess skills or abilities valued by mainstream society as disabled. These people may be described as being on a spectrum. Instead, I believe each of us may be found in a unique spot in a globe of abilities, which I call Unique Genius. Each of us are the sum of our genetic abilities, our life experience and training which is not duplicated anywhere else in time or space. That Unique Genius continues to evolve, as we change in every moment. I carry the intention of seeing this unique combination in each person I meet, and to help each person recognize this in themselves.
Reciprocity, Living Wage and Profit: My favorite fortune cookie: An artist is paid not for her labor, but for her vision. I also work in the Gift Economy, and welcome working with people in a system of exchange that is not financial. I always learn from and enjoy my professional interactions.
Kindness: We each have a choice to be kind. Sometimes that choice is easier than others. I’ll help smooth things over by helping people communicate with kindness during the fuzzy moments.
Choice: I help my clients figure out what is best for them, and for their stakeholders. It’s about you!
Celebration!: Celebration makes everything more fun, and gives everyone a chance to recognize the value of their accomplishments. Celebrations can be planned from the beginning, instead of left to the end.