Racial Equity Buddies Initiative

January 17, 2020

Don’t go it alone!

Definition: A Racial Equity Buddy (REB) is a trusted companion on your personal racial equity journey toward greater awareness and vigilance.
Value: With an REB, the personal journey to greater racial equity awareness and vigilance will have more focus, more consistency, more support, more revelation, more accountability, and more mutual fulfilment.

Racial Equity Buddies at the Undesign the Red Line display in Trinity Commons

Goals of our November 2019 REB Workshop
● Build stronger beloved community among FHC members – open hearts, letting God work through us
● Share a common language about racial equity and racial equity buddies
● Explore forming an REB partnership or deepen the work you’re already doing
● Create a personal next step, wherever you are in the journey of engaging in beloved community, embracing racial equity purposefulness or expanding
your commitment through REB work

Tips to being a racial equity buddy:
● Your buddy can be of the same or a different racial/ethnic background, as long as they are on their own racial equity journey.
● Take your time finding the right racial equity buddy, you might have many racial equity friends but just one or two racial equity buddies.
● Key characteristics of an REB include: a good listener, a lifelong learner, high integrity and discretion, a willingness to change their opinions, a tough skin.
● Focus on building trust and a safe space to be honest with each other. The way you and your buddy connect can and should work for you both (reading books, taking walks together, meeting for coffee, discussing films).
● Share, but don’t lecture; listen with empathy, not skepticism; be curious, not challenging.
● Be flexible and accommodating. Like all journeys yours will take unexpected twists and turns.
● Savor the journey. Don’t rush, keep steady momentum, have fun even as you delve into painful and difficult topics.

Components of the Racial Equity Buddy Journey:
● Share concept with congregation (Sept. Oct. & ongoing)
● Encourage buddy formation (ongoing)
● Support buddy matching and formation (Nov. 10, 2019)
● Facilitate sharing between and among buddies (TBD)
● Facilitate shared learning from buddies to the congregation (TBD)

Use Common Language: Definitions developed by Racial Inclusion Committee at Nov. 9, 2019 Workshop

Agree on Norms: These norms are from EdChange.org, an organization that does extensive equity work. We have added two additional norms to the list, as well, and will strive to be guided by the spirit of these norms in our interactions with each other.  Source

● Listen actively – respect others when they are talking.
● Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (“I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”).
● Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks — focus on ideas. We will strive to “call in” rather than “call out” (because we believe we are all here with good intention).
● Participate to the fullest of your ability — community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.
● Instead of invalidating somebody else’s story with your own spin on her or his experience, share your own story and experience.
● The goal is not to agree; it is to gain a deeper understanding.
● Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses — they can be as disrespectful as words.

Our additions:
● Accept non-closure — we may want to “solve problems” but it may be more important to live with discomfort.
● Respect confidentiality.

The Action Plan
Racial Equity Buddies ask themselves:
● What might I do tomorrow or this week (short term) and what are my emerging ideas for what I might do in the longer term?
● Who is a person I can talk with?
● What is an idea I can reflect on, a reading, film or podcast to spend more time with?
● Is there an action I can take?
● What event can I attend?

Prepared by Mark Joseph for Forest Hill Church, July 2019
Learn more about Mark Joseph and his call to us to consider the Racial Equity Buddy system

The Racial Equity Buddies initiative is sponsored by the Black Caucus:
– Sharing the racial equity buddy concept with the congregation,
– Encouraging buddy formation among congregation members,
– Holding activities to support buddy matching and formation,
– Holding activities to facilitate ongoing sharing between and among buddies, and
– Facilitating shared learning from buddies to the congregation.
Additional information here.

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