Decolonization in Evaluation Week: Decolonizing and Racial Healing as Bridge-building by Rita Sinorita Fierro

Hello everyone! I am Rita Sinorita Fierro, editor of this AEA365 week, sharing collective work in our evaluation field. No one transforms in isolation. Reading books and learning new vocabulary is great, but not enough. Personal and collective work transforms ourselves, our communities, and our world. We authors focus not only on what we do but how we do it on the way to truth, reconciliation, and liberation of humanity. We are forging a new way–starting with ourselves. 

The “work” goes by many names. I prefer racial healing to antiracism–because we are stronger when we stand for something than against something. Racial healing is healing of the spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral wounds of white supremacy: a bridge that requires two pillars and a center and can be the foundation for decolonization. 

One Pillar: white caucus. As white folks, we have seen ourselves as individuals and lost an experience of true, loving community leaving us feeling fragile and wounded. We dominate to hide our wounds–as our families taught us–while competing to prove our value and (presumed) superiority. I see white caucus work as building loving communities that nurture and hold us accountable for growing beyond perfectionism, dominance, and superiority. 

Another Pillar: BIPOC caucus. Folks of color choose to caucus for a variety of reasons: being in beloved communities to be heard and grieve; undoing internalized beliefs of racial inferiority; bridge-building across different ethnicities to discover common harms of colonialism; being heard without having to defend or explain; building new initiatives for BIPOC people or youth; building BIPOC-centered approaches, etc. One such space will be available at Eval 22. Check at the registration desk for the room number.

The Center: The work we do together. This is the Truth, Reconciliation, and Systems transformation work. The truth must first be spoken and acknowledged in a way that it can be heard, felt, and understood. We whites have to come to terms with our harmful actions and listen deeply when BIPOC share. Reconciliation begins when we commit to right action and choose new ways of being, learning, and doing, alone and together. Right actions rebuild the trust that leads to systems transformation. Systems were built by human beings who came together in times of crisis. Systems can be changed by a movement of humans who envision and create a society beyond fear for our collective liberation. 

At the conference you’ll see different approaches. Each is essential for the transformation of humanity. Enter the work wherever you feel called, but know that eventually you’ll need self-reflection, peer accountability, and bridge-building. Consider coming to a session and becoming involved beyond the conference!

Pre-conference Workshops
Conference Presentations and Activities
  • (BIPOC caucus) Liberatory Learning Circle: contact Geri Lynn Peak
  • (white caucus)  Liberatory Learning Circle forming: contact Susan Wolfe
  • (Bridge work) DEI working group Contact Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro, Nisaa Kirtman & Vidhya Shanker
  • (Bridge work) Monthly Feminist Evaluation Regenerative Network (FERN) Contact Libby Smith
  • (Bridge work) The May 13 Group Contact Vidhya Shanker

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Decolonization in Evaluation Week with some of our colleagues. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

4 thoughts on “Decolonization in Evaluation Week: Decolonizing and Racial Healing as Bridge-building by Rita Sinorita Fierro”

  1. I’m confused as to how perfectionism and competitiveness are uniquely white supremacist traits. Chinese immigrants in the United States are overrepresented in the most competitive and highest paying fields (STEM), spend significantly more hours on homework than whites, earn higher standardized test scores, and are overrepresented in the most prestigious universities. They have also accomplished this with little political representation. This pattern is not unique to Chinese immigrants to the United States, but Chinese who have emigrated to other countries as well (see Malaysia). This pattern also predates European colonialism, since technological advances such as the compass, printing, and black powder were invented in China centuries before being adopted by the Europeans. Does this suggest that the Chinese are more white supremacist than white Americans?

      1. She said we need to heal the behavioral wounds of white supremacy and then suggests that white people need to be held accountable to grow “beyond perfectionism, dominance, and superiority”. If these traits are found cross-culturally and across time then I don’t know why they need to be labeled as traits of white supremacy.

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