2, Number 3, May 2002
Carol Miller Lieber & Jamala Rogers
with permission from the The Fourth R
Volume 56, April/May 1995
so we all agree we want our staffs to be more diverse and
inclusive. We'd all love to have more trainers on our staffs
who bring perspectives and experiences of non-dominant groups
and cultures to the conflict resolution field. And we all
want our work to be more responsive to the needs of different
communities. So why doesn't it happen?
Yes, there is a shortage of resources for everyone in the
field. Yes, there never seems to be enough time to do the
outreach and mentoring that we should. And yes, too few
foundations are serious about funding efforts which could
support and strengthen a more diverse cadre of practitioners,
particularly those who work in our most vulnerable communities.
Although all of these obstacles are real, we would like
to suggest a more personal reason for so little change regarding
who does the work and how it gets done: We, professionals
in the conflict resolution field, just don't pay attention
often enough! Those of us who live in the dominant culture
of the white European, educated, middle class can scrutinize
and analyze other people and other groups relentlessly and
still not come to terms with our own biases and limitations.
If we truly believe that self-awareness is so important
for others, we ourselves need to rethink what we do and
how we do it.
Several years ago, we, Carol and Jamala, made an agreement
with each other to pay attention to the "diversity
problem" and rethink our practices, with two goals
in mind. First, in a city that remains socially, professionally,
and geographically segregated, we want to build a crosscultural
team of folks who willingly choose to work together. We
also hope that our partners take their conflict resolution
tools, and their commitment to inclusion and flexibility,
to groups and projects outside of our collaboration. Second,
we want to move beyond the settings, audiences, and facilitators
already associated with conflict resolution in our local
community. This has meant that we often choose to ignore
established practices and professional protocol in an effort
to break the conventional boundaries that influence the
staffing, scope, and methodology in conflict resolution
work. In this article, we will describe briefly some problematic
situations we encounter as we rethink our practices and
some of the "rules of thumb" we have developed
to deal with these situations.
group of "well-connected" white educator/consultants
wrote and received a foundation grant to do conflict resolution
work with staff and students in a city school with an
African American student population and an integrated
What Could Have Happened: This could have been
another case of "outsider" white folks coming
in and telling black folks what to do.
What Did Happen: The coordinators intentionally
hired a cross-cultural project staff, including African
Americans and Latinas, who implemented the project.
Rule of Thumb #1: Build a team of diverse trainers
and associates, including volunteers and part-time staff.
Ask people in the community to identify folks they know
who are "good with kids" or who "can keep
a group cool when tempers are hot." Beat the bushes
looking for potential trainers who may not have had access
to advanced formal schooling or conventional conflict
resolution training. Keep in mind diversity of gender.
We notice a striking split in the field: Academics are
mostly male and "front line" practitioners are
mostly female. We've discovered that just the presence
of young men can make a powerful difference in the impact
of the training. In longer trainings, we have often set
aside several non-paying slots for young men who have
been identified as potential leaders.
project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report
(Attn: Bill Warters)
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
Department of Communication
585 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48201.
send comments, bug reports, etc. to the Editor.
© 2000-2005 William C. Warters & WSU,
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