From Ally to Antiracist: Cultivating and Committing to Action in the Face of Life’s Obstacles

Four Week Live Online Course

Jonathan W. Kanter, Ph.D., Michaela Ayers

About this Event

Last year was hard: The death of George Floyd, the healthcare inequities of the pandemic, an uptick in anti-Asian violence, and the insurrection of January 6.  Collectively, we experienced a catalog of moments and trends documenting that racism is a cultural practice woven into our political and social lives. It is no longer possible to ignore racism in our society.

Many of us were stirred to action. We attended protests, donated to organizations, and obsessively followed the news. Some wanted to do more but were overwhelmed by uncertainty about how to address racism within work settings, family dynamics, or circles of friends. Others may have been paralyzed by very personal experiences of racial trauma while facing the daily struggle to stay afloat in the sea of systemic inequalities.

What have we learned from this moment of awakening? People need help and cannot work alone. Often focusing on raising awareness of problems such as implicit bias, white fragility, white privilege, and microaggressions, traditional training often does little to address the obstacles that we face on a daily basis or promote collective action. For individuals, the obstacles are significant. Racial trauma, shame, fatigue, uncertainty, anxiety, and more, all must be overcome to align our behavior with our stated values on an ongoing basis.  

This training series focuses on empowering participants who are eager to engage but unsure how. For the last decade, our multi-racial team has been developing an approach to anti-racism work that couples an activist mentality with the psychological science on bias, the technology of sustainable behavior change, and techniques that build relationships.

In this 4-week course, we will lead participants through a series of weekly mindfulness action-exercises that address obstacles and translate antiracist values into everyday action. Each week, we will share important research findings from psychological science that provide the foundations for exercises that cultivate growth, awareness, empathy, and action. Participants will collaborate with their peers, building community and trust as they share their goals and challenges with each other. Through direct and compassionate dialogue, participants will develop skills needed to address racism in the moment and apply the principles of anti-racism in their day-to-day lives.   

Scheduled for May 2021, the goals of this course are to empower personal antiracism action plans to engage throughout the year and to develop resilience for overcoming psychological and social obstacles.  We aim to create sustainable personal behavior change in the service of living our values with conviction and purpose, confronting racism directly, and creating a more equitable society.  We also aim to build relationships among participants, fostering a community that will grow and cultivating connections that will last after the course has ended.

Scholarships Available

CCFW aims to promote well-being by making evidence-based mindfulness practices available and accessible to community members, particularly professionals working with children and families. We believe that mindfulness has positive implications for professionals as well as the children and families they interact with. Therefore, we wish to encourage mindfulness training by removing possible financial barriers for professionals working with these specific populations. If these fees are cost-prohibitive for you, we invite you to apply for a scholarship.

About the Presenters

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Jonathan W. Kanter, Ph.D.

Jonathan Kanter PhD is Director of the Center for the Science of Social Connection of the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington. Over the course of his career, Dr. Kanter has collaborated closely with members of Black, Latino, Muslim, LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities across both scientific and social activism efforts, including police brutality, voter engagement, racism and discrimination, mental health stigma, and culturally appropriate psychological treatments. His center comprises an active and diverse team of students and colleagues who work to integrate established findings on bias with the science of relationships to produce innovative bias-reduction strategies and teach people how to connect across group differences that typically divide us. Dr. Kanter has published over 100 books and scientific articles on these topics and he is regularly invited to give talks and workshops nationally and internationally. Dr. Kanter also is a core team member of UW Medicine’s Office of Health Equity which provides antiracism education and workshops for the UW Medicine system, and Dr. Kanter also consults on anti-racism efforts in the legal profession and in educational settings. The Center’s work on racial microaggressions, as well on how to connect across political differences, has recently been featured on NPR, in the Seattle Times, and in other news media outlets. 

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Michaela Ayers

Michaela Ayers is the Founder and Principal of Nourish, a social impact organization that advances anti-racism within companies and communities. Drawing from human-centered design, action learning, and anti-racism principles, Nourish uproots the deep-seated biases and racist behaviors that block belonging. By leveraging the power of curiosity and vulnerability, Michaela is constantly exploring creative ways of thinking, speaking, and listening in order to advance the collective conversation about systemic racism.

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