MIE & La RED TIGs Week: No Tricks, Real Talk on Healing Racialized Trauma on the Evaluator’s Path by Geri Peak

Greetings good people, Geri Peak here.  I work to transform ‘selves and systems, countering racism through evaluation, training, facilitation and arts integrated learning with a collaborative of professionals in Baltimore and Beyond.

Mindelyn Andeson and I hosted a thinking and healing space inspired by how white privilege, superiority and fragility infringed upon program activities, quality and outcomes. We hoped to engage evaluators in a collective power building and evaluation quality improvement wisdom mining  process at a think tank during AEA’s Speaking Truth to Power-focused 2018 meeting.  We make the cut, so we repurposed for CREA 2019 in what spontaneously evolved from sharing innovation/Information into a healing circle, as evaluators released the pain of being undermined, judged, minimized and discounted.

Creating Brave Space

We designed a five-segment space that engaged three of the Five Strategies of the Virtues Project™  starting  with breath to “honor the spirit” and “setting clear boundaries.”  We acknowledged that reviewing our trauma and that of our clients and the communities served requires courage.

Hot Tip:  Invite Brave Space v. Safe Space: don’t try to minimize or sanitize the courage required for this work. Invite participants to lean in despite the risk.

Telling Our Stories; Honoring Our Pain

Using a group “companioning,” we shared experiences, applying collective healing through appreciation, self reflection and caring feedback.  We used wisdom mining to envision a dynamic next workshop answering the question? what should a workshop space look like? and ended with a closure exercise.

Hot Tip:  Honor individuals by remembering to ask for pronouns.

Hot Tip:  Bring. Boxes. Of. Tissues.

Our Bold Idea

Participants agreed creating a separate healing space  (that includes counselors on call, embodied practices, quiet space) open throughout meetings would allow recovery from microaggressions and challenges we experience.

Our Signs of Success

  • Truth talk — knowing we share experiences helps us organize and respond purposefully.
  • Tears — remind us transformation is heart work, not just head work and it impacts our wellbeing. We take back our power when we acknowledge and release our pain.
  • Triumph — CREA invited a full pre-conference workshop!

Lessons Learned:  Our experience requires acknowledgement in professional spaces.  We need to network between workshops and meetings and build community beyond such sessions to strengthen individual and collective healing and action, foster 1-1 connections and share resources and readings to build understanding to guide our healing and inform our practice.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation (MIE) and Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIGs Week with our colleagues in both the MIE and La RED Topical Interest Groups. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from MIE or  La RED TIG members. 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “MIE & La RED TIGs Week: No Tricks, Real Talk on Healing Racialized Trauma on the Evaluator’s Path by Geri Peak”

  1. Hello Geri Peak,

    I appreciate your post on the topic of healing racialized trauma. I valued how you described creating a “brave” space. The acknowledgement that it takes courage to share trauma’s was very valuable to me. In my work as an educator I have created and participated in a variety of ‘healing’ type circles. I often I have not had the courage to share. I think your ‘hot-tip’ to bring tissues is a must. I believe most of us (myself included) do not want to be exposed as vulnerable or fragile in front of others. Sharing takes courage.
    I value the signs of success that you included, particularly, “transformation is heart work, not just head work and it impacts our wellbeing. We take back our power when we acknowledge and release our pain.” This statement promotes the release of pain and the freedom to cry as part of the transformation experience. I believe it is valuable to give yourself permission to fully experience this (which would require a brave and safe space).

    I am curious if you could elaborate further on the lessons learned? You write that, “Our experience requires acknowledgement in professional spaces.” In my mind this is about increasing awareness and promoting change through acknowledgement of our traumas, but I would be curious to know if further explanation can be provided on how this process can and will work to heal racialized trauma in the profession or in general.

    Thank you again for writing about this, it was eye opening,

  2. Hello Geri Peak,

    Thank you for writing about something that a lot of people with “White Privilege” (myself being a white male) do not really understand. Sometimes people with privilege do not even understand what that privilege looks like or how it may be involved subconsciously in their thought process. By explaining that biases can appear due to privilege is very interesting and something that should not be overlooked. When evaluating someone or something we need to make sure that biases or privilege’s do not play a factor because if those factors do play a part then the entire process will be flawed, ultimately leading to skewed data results. On another note, I really enjoyed how you included “Hot Tips” in which you explained something that a facilitator can do to make the participants feel at ease.



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