I’m Ann Price, an evaluator and community psychologist based in the Atlanta Metro Area and President of Community Evaluation Solutions. As we get ready for Eval 2018 I want to share my reflections on our conference theme, speaking truth to power, one of four community psychology principles.
Rad Resource: The community psychology principles, developed by the Society for Community Research and Action, guide our work as community psychologists and should resonate with evaluators. One says:
Community research and action requires explicit attention to and respect for diversity among peoples and settings
I am particularly struck by the words “requires explicit attention to.” Recently, I was in New York City and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, spending considerable time in the Adrian Piper exhibit. I was not familiar with her work, but one series of photographs caused me to stop in my tracks as this particular series was emblazoned with these words in red ink: “Pretend not to know what you know”. Some photos depicted violence against African Americans; in another, a white woman and her healthy, smiling little boy in between two other photos of women with their starving immigrant children. In another exhibit section Ms. Piper asked a series of multiple choice questions one of which was Q: Do you have at least one black friend? A. If yes, how often do you have contact with him or her? Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, none of the above.
Our conference theme has already generated a lot of conversation and some strong emotions. I think speaking truth to power has to first start with ourselves. As a practitioner who works in communities, self-reflection is a necessary exercise. One of my clients is going through a year-long process of race, equity, and inclusion training. I suspect this work has started an awakening in many of the participants, of which I am one, and who like me, thought they were more attentive then they actually are.
So today I am inviting you to ask yourself: What do I need to attend to? What am I pretending not to know that I really do know? Doing the work evaluators do has to start with some serious self-reflection and if necessary, making amends. Then, listening more than talking as another great next step. Enriching your practice through education, readings, self-reflection, and experiences is also needed. In addition to Piper’s exhibit, here are some things I have been attending to lately:
Rad Resources: Some documentaries to generate discussions:
- The Talk “Race in America”, a 2-hour documentary about the increasingly necessary conversations parents of color have with their children http://www.pbs.org/wnet/the-talk/.
- America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and a Bridge to a New America. By Jim Wallis
- Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis By Robert Putnam
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