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"The class was very worthwhile. As an adult, it is rare to be part of something that changes how you see the world and the actions you take in your world. I'm grateful for that opportunity."
"You get the chance to meet and make meaningful connections with other parents and educators in your community. The meetings and conversations help you feel a sense of ownership and belonging, that you don't always feel in other settings (such as PTA meetings or other events where there is a balance of power). In this program, everyone is an equal and has something to learn -- even our facilitators."
Challenging Racism has been holding conversations for members of the Arlington, Virginia community since 2004. Funded by APS to close the Achievement Gap, Challenging Racism: Learning How was developed for parents as a parallel program to the cultural competency training for faculty and staff. Even before recent headlines brought the problem of racism to light - Charlottesville, Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, Natasha McKenna, limiting voting rights, and a hundred other examples - Challenging Racism and its mission were expanding.
Challenging Racism has evolved from simply holding one yearlong workshop for parents at an Arlington school, to running several Challenging Racism: Learning How workshops in the same year. In 2016, Challenging Racism developed and ran its first Challenging Racism:Learning to Lead facilitator training to expand its network of facilitators to meet increasing demand for its service. Challenging Racism has also developed curricula and run custom developed programs for other organizations in the community beyond the original APS program.
Participants recommend these discussions as... “thought-provoking”, “life-changing”, “invaluable” and “eye-opening”. One woman who recently participated said, “It will challenge and focus you in such a positive way. You will feel energized by what you learn.”
Another said, “Through the exercises, I learned to push on through that uncomfortable moment when someone says something so crazy that I think I could never understand where they are coming from. The best pointer was to say 'What do you mean by that?' and then to really listen. It really works, even with my teenager.”