Dear Interhelpers and friends,

In March 2020 the members of Interhelp Council announced our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization. We had received feedback about how white-dominant Interhelp events are, and also on the high impact of that factor, as well as racism in general, in Interhelp spaces – especially on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) folks. We made the choice to act on that feedback and move toward healing, greater safety and inclusion.

As we acknowledged at the time, this is a long-term path of learning and action.  The pandemic may have slowed our efforts in some ways, but the commitment stands.

Here’s a review of what steps and activities Interhelp Council, and the greater Community, have undertaken so far.

In keeping Council members’ intention to begin by learning and practicing among ourselves, we undertook a group study of How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Most of us followed that up by engaging in practice groups using My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem.

We began exploring anti-racism efforts in our communities and have donated funds to Alternatives for Community and Environment. Further support of community project(s) is pending.

By summertime we were ready to invite the Interhelp Community to join us in our exploration and learning process. Donna Bivens and Paul Marcus of Community Change Inc. (CCI) offered a one-day training on Zoom, helping us build a shared baseline understanding of how racism plays out in our society and by extension in Interhelp spaces.

In September, Aravinda Ananda and Anne Goodwin offered a follow-up workshop for the CCI training participants.

We recommended an online event sponsored by the Work That Reconnects Network, White Supremacy in the Great Turning.This webinar focused on how white supremacy shows up in Work That Reconnects spaces.

Recently the Boston Community of Practice focused their monthly meeting on this theme, sharing their feelings around their pledge to make the Work that Reconnects a powerful force for dismantling racism, and exploring how they envision themselves going forth to live up to this promise. Contact Tom Penhale for more information.

Our collective commitment to design and lead Work That Reconnects workshops with increasing awareness and sensitivity to multiple issues of power, privilege and oppression is ongoing. In addition, Aravinda Ananda and Paula Hendrick serve on the Anti-Oppression Resource Group, contributing to the anti-oppression effort within the global Work That Reconnects community.

As we announced last month, Interhelp Council has undertaken a process of reflecting on how to move forward as an organization. How our anti-racism efforts unfold will be informed by that process.

Survey Still Open
Thanks to all who offered input on our reflection process via this survey. If you haven’t yet participated, we still welcome your input. Opportunities for the community to come together are in the works – in the short term via Zoom, in the not-too-distant future in person – hopefully outdoors this summer!

I’m hoping we will see each other soon.

Paula Hendrick
Interhelp Council members: Aravinda Ananda, Anne Goodwin, Carol Harley, Paula Hendrick, Daniel Kieval, and Joseph Rotella

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