Greetings, we are Karyl Askew, Monifa Beverly, and Angelicque Tucker Blackmon, three Black cisgender women evaluators who specialize in culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE). We are continually in reflection with one another about what it means to be and journey as CREE evaluators. As we reflected on this week’s topic, we discussed the journey as an interplay of personal growth, growth with and in relation to an evaluation team, and growth with and in relation to professional partners. Along this journey, we have built in practices and structures that sustain and fuel our momentum.
CREE as a Journey to and through the Self
For us, being CREE consultants means being self-aware to know that what we are doing is soul work, even without it being explicitly named or recognized in the canons of education and evaluation literature. Soul work is the combined efforts of the heart, mind and human spirit. This combined work allows us to see the soulful essence of ourselves and the people we work with as we all navigate through an ever ending maze of policies, expectations, curriculum, and politics, all combined into what we eventually call a ‘program.’ In doing this soul work, we do our best to embrace ourselves first and manifest this embrace through acts of self-care. This is part of the journey as we come to understand it from Dr. Hazel Symonette.
CREE as a Journey to and through Teams
For us, being CREE consultants is a journey where we link arms in community with other evaluators. Through the collective exhale we find in fellowship with other sojourners, we nurture a practiced discipline of quieting the noise in our mind and activating our recircular activation system. We show up for one another professionally and personally holding a space to voice who and how we are in the moment before we turn to the work at hand. By extending grace, we see in ourselves and each other generative possibilities, providing each other the external validation often denied in the spaces we traverse. Without this practiced discipline, the work suffers and so do we. It is rejuvenating to have counterspaces of safety and trust in which to learn and grow. Karyl’s mentor Hank Frierson told her she needed a posse to survive and thrive in this work. And, finding a posse has been the best part of the work!
CREE as a Journey to and through Professional Partners (our clients)
For us, CREE means quieting the noise within to be with, and hear fully, the aspirations, insecurities, wishes, concerns, and dreams of our professional partners. Culture cues plus discernment equals a CREE practice. Our partners speak and we hope to hear the dimensions of what they are telling us. We strive to give a platform to transformative stories in our reporting, agonizing over the choice of every word. All the while, the journey is an attempt to see their beauty and their flaws, as we share ours, holding both with equal grace, honor, and respect.
After we discern, a move towards an equitable practice is finding the courage to say what needs to be said and demanding a chair for the least privileged among us. As we journey in community with self and fellow evaluators, we find that we are better equipped to listen, discern, and speak, so that all have an invitation to journey toward a future that affirms each contributing voice and moves towards measurable change.
As you continue to think about self-care, we recommend you check out the healing sounds of plant music produced by the WorldBeat Center.
The American Evaluation Association is hosting Connecting the Intra/Inter/Structural Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from authors who are exploring intuition and the thread that connects the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and the structural in evaluation.
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