Acknowledgment. Since the beginning of our educational programs, our demographic documentation shows that most students and faculty have identified as white. We acknowledge that we have work to do so that our educational programs genuinely welcome and value young people, people of color, people with low incomes, and people from other historically marginalized communities.
Commitment. Moving forward, we are committed to increasing access to and diversity in our educational programs and creating and maintaining an environment that is as welcoming as possible for people from historically underserved communities. We aim to nurture a community in which we all hold ourselves and each other accountable, celebrate differences, and work to build the trust necessary to take risks, be vulnerable, and share creative endeavors.
What We Are Doing. We are working on many levels to make our educational programs more welcoming to people from historically marginalized communities.
- Diversifying Faculty. Historically, our educational program faculty has consisted of between 15 and 20% of people of color. We commit to increasing that percentage to 50% by the end of 2023 and making that our new norm moving forward.
- Diversifying the Student Body. We are deploying a mix of approaches to increase the diversity of our educational program student body. A more diverse faculty will make our workshops more appealing to young people, people of color, people from the LGBTQ+ community, and people from other historically underserved communities. Likewise, our work to create partnerships with organizations serving these communities, like Cave Canem, the Institute for American Indian Arts, Kundiman, Lambda Literary, and others, will help attract new students. Our efforts to create a more robust scholarship program rooted in partnerships will make our educational programs more accessible and welcoming to young people, low-income people, and people from other historically underserved communities.
- Community Guidelines and Action Steps. We have created a set of guidelines (see below) that we expect everyone who participates in our educational programs to adhere to. They will set a program-wide commitment to accountability, respect, and kindness to make our time together one of creative growth, trust, community, and fun. We also have created a set of Action Steps (see below) that can be taken when confronted by disrespectful and unwelcoming words and/or behavior. These Community Guidelines and Action Steps will be shared with all students and staff at the beginning of all in-person or live Zoom workshops.
- Support. Staff and faculty will be equipped and expected to immediately respond to support anyone made to feel unwelcome or disrespected.
- Resources. We provide various resources (see below) to develop a shared understanding of our responsibility for making our time together inclusive, connecting, and productive. We encourage all workshop participants to read and view these resources.
- Community Guidelines
To ensure that every member of the FAWC community feels welcome, safe, and able to participate to their fullest extent, we expect all FAWC Educational Programs community members to treat one another with respect, understanding, and kindness. We commit to rooting our behavior and interactions in the following Community Guidelines and ask that the rest of our community members do the same (adapted from Resource Media):
- Be mindful of power dynamics. Power shows up in many ways—be aware of how you might unconsciously use your privilege and power, even without meaning.
- Be accountable. The things we say or do may harm others despite our intent. Be accountable for the impact of your actions and words, even if you didn’t intend that impact.
- Be open. Receive feedback respectfully when your ideas or behavior are challenged. It is a gift when someone takes the time and risk to give feedback. Thank them for the learning opportunity and recognize you may have work to do.
- Be kind. Give feedback respectfully when challenging someone’s ideas or behavior. Consider providing feedback privately to invite deeper discussion and lessen the chance of a defensive response.
- Assume positive intentions. Everyone comes in with a different set of lived experiences and knowledge. Seek first to understand and assume positive intentions in all interactions.
- Embrace learning and growth. This work is sometimes uncomfortable and uncertain. We will make mistakes along the way. Remember, we are all here to learn and grow individually and collectively.
We are confident that most Educational Program participants will embrace our efforts to create a welcoming atmosphere. At the same time, we acknowledge that incidents that make members of our community feel unwelcome may still occur. We are committed to addressing any such incidents quickly. Suppose anyone in the FAWC community does or says something that makes another member of the FAWC community feel unwelcome or disrespected. In that case, the following action steps can be taken to address the situation:
- Suppose you experience or witness any action in your workshop that makes you feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. In that case, we hope that the Community Guidelines and the Workshop Guidelines established by your fellow students and your instructor create the ability for your instructor to guide a conversation that deals with the incident satisfactorily.
- If the incident is not addressed within the workshop, we encourage you to speak with your instructor privately. They will then remind the class about their guidelines and/or address the person violating the Community and Workshop Guidelines privately or arrange for a staff member to do so. In either of these scenarios, your instructor will inform staff about the incident and efforts to resolve it so that we can follow up to ensure it has been resolved or help resolve it.
- If, for any reason, you feel uncomfortable speaking with your instructor about an incident, or if it is the instructor who is making you feel unwelcome or disrespected, or if something happens outside of your workshop, we encourage you to contact a FAWC staff member for a private conversation about the incident. We will talk with you to determine appropriate next steps and ensure that the situation is resolved.
- If for any reason you feel uncomfortable speaking with staff, or if it is the staff that is making you feel unwelcome or unsafe, we encourage you to contact Naya Bricher, FAWC’s Administrative Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org who will work with you to determine the appropriate next steps.
We encourage all educational program participants to view and read the resources below. We hope these resources will help us reflect on our own experiences, increase our understanding of and empathy for experiences outside of our own, and develop a common ground of language, understanding, and expectations that allows us to connect more deeply and share a genuinely transformative experience.
Terms and Definitions
Here are some definitions of relevant terms and ideas as a starting point. Below them, you will find more resources to keep learning. (Adapted from the National Association of Counties.)
- Diversity. The presence of different and multiple characteristics that make up individual and collective identities, including race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, language, and physical ability.
- Equality. In the context of diversity, equality is typically defined as treating everyone the same and giving everyone access to the same opportunities. It means each individual or group is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity. The process of identifying and removing the barriers that create disparities in the access to resources and means and the achievement of fair treatment and equal opportunities to thrive.
Justice. The process of society moving from an unfair, unequal, or inequitable state to one that is fair, equal, or equitable. A transformative practice that relies on the entire community to acknowledge past and current harms to reform societal morals and subsequently the governing laws. Proactive enforcement of policies, practices, and attitudes that produce equitable access, opportunities, treatment, and outcomes for all, regardless of the various identities that one holds.
Inclusion creates environments where any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to participate fully.
Individual Racism. Individual or personal beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, and actions that perpetuate or support racism. Individual racism can occur both consciously and unconsciously and can be active or passive. Examples can include avoiding people of color or accepting or approving racist acts or jokes.
Institutional Racism. Unfair or biased institutional or organizational practices and policies that create different (or inequitable) outcomes for different racial groups. These policies may not specifically target any racial group but may create advantages for some groups and oppression or disadvantages for others. Examples can include policies within the criminal justice system that punish people of color more than their white counterparts or the workforce system in which hiring practices can significantly disadvantage workers of color.
Privilege grants advantages and benefits to members of a dominant group at the expense of members of target groups. While privilege does not mean that someone’s life is not difficult or that they did not work for what they have, it does mean that their life is not more difficult because of their membership in a dominant group, which includes white people, males, heterosexuals, and English speakers. Privilege tends to be invisible to people who have it, and people in this group often believe that they have earned the privileges they enjoy or that everyone could have access to these privileges if only they worked to earn them.
Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions of a group of people often based on race, religion, or gender, in an unconscious manner.
Microaggressions are the kinds of remarks, questions, or actions that are painful because they have to do with a person’s membership in a group that’s discriminated against. A crucial part of what makes them so disconcerting is that they happen casually, frequently, and often without any harm intended. An example would be asking to touch the hair of someone of a different race, commenting that someone “speaks English so well!” if they are a person of color, or continuing to misgender someone based on their appearance rather than their stated pronouns.
Intersectionality refers to the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
Code-switching is the practice of alternating between one linguistic code and another depending on the social context or conversational setting. People of color often need to code-switch in more situations than white people because white experiences dictate the unwritten rules of many social situations.
White fragility. The state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves in white people. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. Racial stress results from an interruption to what is racially familiar.
Here are some links to videos, articles, and websites that can help us all understand these issues more deeply and help guide our decisions and behavior while we’re together at the Work Center and in our lives in general.
What is Unconscious Bias (3m21s)
Audre Lorde on Intersectionality (3m33s)
What Does it Mean to be Antiracist (10m41s)
An interactive map showing what Indigenous tribes lived where