Friday, April 24, 2015

"Intersectionality with Intentionality" on Tuesday, May 19

"Intersectionality with Intentionality"
Tuesday, May 19
5:15pm Registration; 5:30pm - 7:30pm Program
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
2314 University Ave. West #20, St. Paul, MN 55114
Register online.
Admission: $7.00/$10.00

*This event is organized for and by people of color as a supportive and courageous space.

In an increasingly diversifying society, our lives and identities are hyphenated and nuanced, posing a challenge to our capacity for identity-driven leadership. The paradox of being part of the "in" group at times and being seen as the "other" at other points adds to the complexity.

Do you struggle with authentically being yourself in any context? Perhaps your conversation, use of language, and expression are different with your coworkers as opposed to with your friends? Code-switching, the practice of shifting the languages you use or the way you express yourself in your conversations, serves to provide an explanation for this behavior.

Though this ability to blend in and adapt in order to survive in our various surroundings could be likened to a superpower, it's not without trade-offs. Working overtime to assimilate and acculturate can create a sense of isolation and diminish our self-knowledge and self-trust.

Join LOCUS on Tuesday, May 19 from 5:30pm - 7:30pm at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for a stimulating conversation at "Intersectionality with Intentionality," where we'll explore code-switching, the inherent compromises it places on our authenticity, and a framework for understanding and navigating the implications of intersectional identities.


Light refreshments will be provided. Register early as there are a limited number of seats! 

LOCUS seeks to serve as a meeting ground for people from diverse backgrounds to engage with one another and to clarify our collective needs and our common aspirations. Through the pursuit of stronger connection and inclusiveness, and by striving for equitable and representative leadership, we aim to create a community that embraces and supports everyone. Join us at!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

“Putting Into Words What I Live” Workshop Recap

Building on our Mini-Microaggressions Film Festival in October,  LOCUS held a facilitated discussion on microaggressions at Rondo Community Outreach Library last week. Once again, Chelles' Kitchen provided a delicious meal while guest facilitator Alicia Sojourner, Racial Justice and Public Policy Program Coordinator at the YWCA of Minneapolis, shed light on the history, origination and impact of microaggressions in communities of color and society as a whole. We started the evening by spending some time on the definition of microaggressions.

Microaggressions: “Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color”- Professor Derald Sue

While unpacking the definition above, Alicia opened discussion for attendees to share their own personal experiences with microaggressions. She challenged the group to not only think of instances where we were on the receiving end of microaggressions, but when we have been the perpetrator of such acts. This expanded the conversation to discuss how we as communities of color also allow and perpetuate stereotypes and use them against one another.

In order to confront microaggressions, Alicia provided the group with 5 teachings on how to begin conversations to address them when they occur:

1.                  Questioning
Asking questions to compel the perpetrator to think about their comments/actions and to navigate and unpack the meaning of the behavior. This allows for an open dialogue.

2.                  Empathetic Relating
By turning the situation around on the perpetrator, you allow them to put themselves in your shoes by perhaps asking if they have ever experienced or received that comment or question, and if so what their response would be.

3.                  I Feel
Using “I feel” statements (typically toward close co-workers, friends and people from one’s own community) to explain to the perpetrator the impact that microaggression has on you personally.

4.                  Educating
Using microaggressions as teachable moments is most effective when used after steps 1-3, and includes explaining the definition and theory of microaggressions.

5.                  Returning Later
When on the receiving end of a microaggression, sometimes you need to practice self-care by removing yourself from the situation without addressing it at that moment. This offers time to think of how to address it at a later time after you’ve had a chance to gather your thoughts. The key is, you must return later, otherwise you have granted permission. You have allowed any and all of the “isms” to occur.

Alicia then facilitated a paired role-playing activity where participants navigated conversations where one partner is on the receiving end of a committed microaggression by the other partner. We were challenged to address the microaggression with one of the above techniques. The role-play was eye-opening and gave us a chance to begin to incorporate some of the language and practices that can help to confront and overcome microaggressions.

Thanks again to Alicia for facilitating such meaningful dialogue and to the participants for sharing their personal stories and insights.