This last weekend Sustainable Seattle's board had a training about race, ethnicity and the challenges and opportunities these discussions can bring about. The all day training on a warm Saturday afternoon started off light and high minded, but as we continued to go through the training videos and the discussions the mood began to become more murky.
The ideas of race are of course a socially created construct. Race does not exist biologically at all, but the point of this training is to confront the socially created idea of race and how it can complicate relationships. The trainings are a combination of videos put on by PBS and discussions that are facilitated to ensure genuine honesty, respect and openness.
The discussions were lively, touchy, and powerful. Ideas were debated, ratified and thrown out and the entire day was an example of how much deep seated almost subconscious ideas about race are within us all. This social construct has been a part of our society for hundreds of years and that amount of unconscious programing takes time, courage, and love to overcome.
One of the most important lessons we learned as a board was that we all have room to grow and to open our hearts to compassion. We view social justice as one of our three main themes and the fact that we have put so much effort into learning more about ourselves and each other is a testament to our dedication. It was not an easy discussion or training, but it was an important first step in getting us on the same wavelength. We are currently discussing cultural competency training as our next step to build on the lessons we've learned.