Friends Council has been co-hosting and organizing Community Conversations on Race for the past three years and this 2020-2021 school year is no exception. Community Conversations on Race (CCOR) bring educators and community members together to learn and talk about racism and to practice having the difficult and important conversations about race that are needed to help dismantle racism and white supremacy.
Planned and coordinated by Toni Graves Williamson, Mary Lynn Ellis and Deborra Sines Pancoe, the most recent January 26 event featured guest presenter Erica Snowden, Director of DEI at Friends’ Central School. Erica Snowden focused on racial literacy -- the ability to read, recast and resolve racially stressful encounters – as a means to better health and healing from racial stress.
Following a land acknowledgement to the Lenni Lenape and a heartfelt acknowledgement of Dr. Howard Stevenson’s work, Snowden focused her presentation on multicultural literacy and the power of dealing with racial stress through storytelling. After sharing facts about the impact of racial stress on health, and her own personal story of how racial stress was impacting her own health, Snowden shared Stevenson’s method of CLCBE, a powerful technique individuals can use to relax and think clearly during a racially stressful encounter.
“Racial literacy is all about self care first,” says Snowden. “You need to care for yourself before you care for others. You need to practice (racial literacy). It’s competence over character.”
Snowden walked participants through the application of Stevenson’s CLCBE – Calculate, Locate, Communicate, Breath and Exhale. Snowden asked participants to think about a racially stressful thing that’s happened to them and to do some quiet journaling about it. Then, Snowden asked for a few participants who would be willing to share with the group. Those who shared their moment were then asked to 1) Calculate the level of stress they felt in the situation on a scale of 1 to 10; 2) Locate -- identify where in their body they felt the stress; 3) Communicate -- verbalize where in their body they felt the stress and then 3) Breathe and 4) Exhale.
Many thanks to Erica Snowden for presenting on CLCBE and walking participants through how to apply it in their own lives. We hope this is one more tool people have in their toolkits for having the difficult but important conversations about race.