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September 17-23

A Listening Project on the Racism Aimed at African-Heritage People

I attended a one-day workshop, while in Seattle, Washington, USA, on eliminating racism against people of African heritage. It was led by Teresa Enrico, the International Liberation Reference Person for Pacific Islander and Pilipino/a-Heritage People. We were twelve RCers of the Global Majority of constituencies other than African heritage. (Dvora Slavin led forty white people on the same topic in another room at the same site.) It was an inspiring day.

Teresa talked about how racism is more visible now with the widespread use of cell phones and as the capitalist society collapses. This can restimulate early feelings of discouragement and hopelessness. We have to notice that we aren’t alone, that other people are with us. It is from this perspective that we can discharge toward eliminating the racism aimed at African-heritage people.

As part of the day we did a listening project. Teresa stressed that it was not about changing people’s minds—it was a chance for people to be listened to. They (and we) would get to see where their minds went. We did a mini-session to decide which question to write on a big piece of paper. We then had another mini on how to reply if people wanted to know who we were and why we were doing this.

We got into groups of four and made our way to our listening-project sites. My group went to a community center. We held up our sign with the message, “How do you feel about the police violence against people of African heritage?” We listened to an older African-heritage man, an African-heritage couple with four children, three teenage boys on a basketball court, a white woman who was out jogging, and others.

I learned and noticed a lot:

  • I learned that people are eager to be listened to, even though they are sometimes initially suspicious.
  • I learned that a listening project is about connection—with one’s team and with the people one meets. It is also about cooperating.
  • I saw that being listened to gives people hope.
  • I learned a lot about African-heritage people’s lives.
  • Doing the project contradicted my internalised racism, because I got to trust my team and the people I met.
  • Listening made me notice African-heritage people’s intelligence and rage.
  • I accessed the hope I’d felt as a young girl about setting things right.
  • I noticed my chronic patterns and where I am in my re-emergence. This pushed me to work on my oppressor distress, which I sometimes avoid.
  • I noticed my early longing for an end to the divisions among people.
  • The project was an opportunity for us to back each other and to deepen our connections as a group.

When we came back to the workshop, we shared highlights and our next step in ending racism against people of African heritage.

Sujata Maini

Stockholm, Sweden

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of South, Central, and West Asian-Heritage People

(Present Time 186, January 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00