Racial Equity Institute Reflections

Published On: February 6th, 2023|Categories: Our Organization|

Last week, the entire Community Home Trust staff participated in Racial Equity Institute’s two-day Phase 1 Racial Equity Workshop, some as alumni of the program, and others for the first time.

The website describes the course this way: “REI’s two-day Phase 1 training is designed to develop the capacity of participants to better understand racism in its institutional and structural forms. Moving away from a focus on personal bigotry and bias, this workshop presents a historical, cultural, and structural analysis of racism. Topics covered include our fish/lake/groundwater analysis of structural racism; understanding and controlling implicit bias; race, poverty, and place; markedness theory; institutional power arrangements and power brokers; importance of definitions of race and racism; history and legacy of race in American economic and policy development; racial identity and its interaction with institutional culture. With shared language and a clearer understanding of how institutions and systems are producing unjust and inequitable outcomes, participants should leave the training better equipped to begin to work for change.” (You can learn more about REI and this course on their website: https://racialequityinstitute.org/.)

We asked our staff to share their reflections on the training. Here’s what some of them had to say:

The REI training was an eye-opening experience into the systemic and structural racism in America’s past and present. Also, thought provoking on how we can make changes for the next generations to come.

REI Phase 1 helped me understand White Advantage in America, not as ancient history or as the result a few bad people’s actions, but as a designed system.

As a returning participant in this most recent REI training, I am once again overwhelmed with processing the vast amount of information presented. One of the most impactful portions of the class was learning all the history which was not taught in my schools growing up. I appreciate the opportunity to learn, be aware, and do better.

I firmly believe that as in every nation, the citizens and residents of the U.S. ought to seek and learn about both the positive and negative parts of their nation’s history. Understanding the past is the key to changing the future.

It was a great history refresher!

The hardest part of the training was knowing that we were there to learn the information without being presented with solutions or options to help. It was hard because when hearing the information as a citizen I genuinely want to help and make a difference. The most helpful part of the training was being provided tools to help me recognize racism and knowing that the information we learned allows me to have a clearer lens of the world.

As an alumnus of this training, having participated for the first time before I joined the staff at CHT, I appreciated being able to complete the training again with a different lens. The first time I completed the training, I found myself overwhelmed with all I was learning and what it all meant for how I saw the world and interacted with my neighbors. This time, I was able to think more specifically about how this impacts the work we do in the realm of housing and what it means to work to overcome systemic racism specifically as we help folks become homeowners. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and the encouragement to continue to learn and grow.

Great start; and only a start.

This was my second time taking the training and there is so much detail and history, it was good to hear it again. I realized I missed (or forgot) some of the history and it was a good reminder. The two things stood out to me was the discussion of being “marked.” I never realized how so much in our culture that is for white people isn’t labeled, it’s just normal. But there are black colleges, ethnic hair aisles, and even black greeting cards, which I didn’t know. The other was again the analogy of Monopoly, where it becomes obvious that systems were put into place to help white people people build wealth. That didn’t just leave behind people of color, but generations after those policies were put into place. It’s hard to catch up when you haven’t been allowed to play the full game.

I’m so grateful to CHT for investing in its employees by providing this training. I feel like I got new glasses and can see better now. Unfortunately, I don’t like what I see. Then again, I’m learning to “see in the work.” I hope to see you there.

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