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Self-Reflection leads to Powerful Insight as Agency Centers Voices of Women of Color to Enrich Healing Arts Program for Survivors of Trauma
The Partnership's Cultural Responsiveness Organizational Self-Assessment (CROS) tool is here!


The Cultural Responsiveness Organizational Self-Assessment (CROS) tool offers a variety of customized support options for domestic violence agencies. Explore A Window Between Worlds’ use of CROS to center the voices of women of color–and get in touch with Partnership Capacity Building Program Specialist Mercedes Tune to schedule an informational call about how we can support your organization!

The challenge was the inability to see an opportunity for inclusion that was overlooked by program developers. As a result, for over 26 years, their healing curriculum meant to serve all people was authored primarily by a single group: white women. While the Founder established the organization as a circle of leadership, inviting all facilitators to innovate and contribute from their own experience, there was an unaware gap created by the implicit bias inherent in positionality (role, ethnicity, and economic status), a mostly- -representational) curriculum, which has limited the organization. As a result, the work of the organization was not as inclusive as it could be. The founder, core leadership, and staff had very strong values that honored inclusion and equality, and they saw their program reach many marginalized adults and children. The fact that so much of their work successfully matched their values may have obscured areas where their work was not in alignment with their values. It becomes essential to get external feedback on internal operations to be able to see more clearly and detect areas of misalignment.

What was tried in order to address the challenge? What surprises or obstacles were encountered along the way?
The program developers did not see this challenge, did not know that it even existed, until they invited a woman of color to serve as a consultant to facilitate an agency-wide exploration of intersectionality, power, and privilege, and received feedback from its community of practice. Although these discussions proved challenging to those with privilege, it is a testament to their commitment to their values that they worked through their discomfort and arrived at a place where they could see and own that their curriculum design practices were exclusionary. This was a surprise to them, because it ran so counter to their deeply held values to equality, equity, justice, fairness, and ensuring that no human being has power
over another.

Describe the Turning point. What was the culmination of struggle, learning, insight and response that led to the new result?
To address the challenge, they invited people of color to create workshops to include in the curriculum. They discovered there was great healing power in the power of authorship itself and in opening the possibility for people of color to see themselves reflected in the curriculum content and its authors.

What was the result? What is different now and how is that impacting individuals, organizations, and/or communities?
The legacy of this project is that AWBW has 12 new workshops, created by people of color, to permanently add to their curriculum, and they now have a process for including other marginalized voices over time. As they begin to implement
these workshops they will learn more about their actual transformative impact on AWBW and the survivors of trauma who participate in them.

Does this story tie in with specific outcomes? What numbers do you have to add to the story?
This story strongly ties in with shifting agency thinking, perspective and culture. It is an excellent example of self examination leading to insight, insight moving into action, and action resulting in positive change. The numbers to add to this story include the numbers of board and staff members who will keep on dialoguing and discovering as a result of this, the number of additional insights that stem from this process, the number of workshop leaders who are trained to use the new curriculum components, the twelve new workshop designers who contributed to a much larger effort to help survivors of domestic violence heal, and the number of workshop participants who participate in the new workshops each year. This
powerful insight has exponential ripple power.

I want people to learn that being open to discovery , being willing to see an omission or a mistake as an opportunity for growth, and being willing to be patient with themselves and with others as the circle is widened to be more inclusive, can yield rich rewards that strengthen movement towards a mission. Be open. Ask questions. Get trusted outside help if you are stuck or need someone else to hold a mirror up so you can see yourself more clearly. Be flexible and patient. Act on what you learn.