Alia tool for moving through discomfort in anti-racism dialogue

April 17, 2023 at 8:55 AM |
Posted by: Katie Miller
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You may feel at times (as we sometimes do) a tendency to self-protect when in discussion around themes of anti-racism. We may feel the need to protect ourselves from harm, exposure, punishment, or shame, which in turn can flip us into fight or flight mode.

Instead of getting quiet and retreating, putting up walls, trying to save face or explain how we’re right, how can we remain connected to each other when our anti-racism work gets tough? When our tendency is to move away from the discomfort, how can we move towards it, together?

Awareness of self is a critical component to anti-racism dialogue that is generative and leads to connection and understanding. What am I feeling, exactly? What am I afraid of, exactly?

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Building Stamina tool_page 2

At times at Alia we have been on the edge of real connection, gotten more honest or raw than we’ve ever been, then pulled away, missing opportunities for breakthroughs in connection and understanding. Noticing this, we created a document based on ideas found in Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility, included feeling descriptors and common self-talk to help us identify and work through our defenses and remain engaged.

Especially for white people, managing discomfort, building distress tolerance for being able to remain in the challenging moments is what is required. Often, discomfort is confused as danger, yet we must stay in the feelings long enough to self-inquire and learn to distinguish between the two.

Perhaps this tool can aid you and your team members in getting clearer on what you feel, why you are reacting (or not), and help you stay in the moments of discomfort. Because breakthrough is often right on the other side.

For more context on our anti-racism work, click here: