Agreements form the basis by which we are able to host and participate in productive conversation. In all of our work, we ask all facilitators and participants to honor the following:
Stay engaged means that I commit to staying present. If strong emotions come up, I commit to curious reflection about my emotion. Homework will sometimes be assigned prior to an event. If so, I understand this is offered as a means of building common memory in the group. If I am unable to engage the homework, I know that I am still encouraged to participate with the added awareness that the conversation may move in ways I am unprepared for. I will remain curious and return to the homework when I am able.
Normalize multiple perspectives – share from personal reflection means that I will keep my comments personal, local, and immediate. I will not share others’ stories.
Embrace a listening posture – curious and movable means that I will posture myself in a way that seeks to listen with my whole being. This way of listening, for most people, will cause discomfort. I acknowledge that my experience is not universal and that multiple perspectives offer me new understanding that is one of the gifts of engaging with others.
Be willing to do things differently and experience discomfort means that I will lean in where I’m feeling discomfort as a way to develop new muscle memory toward growth. If I’m used to talking first or often I might talk last and least. If I’m used to hearing everyone else first before sharing I might speak up first or more often. My level of comfort may vastly vary from someone else and I will hold myself and others capable and able to participate within the experience of discomfort.
Expect and accept non-closure means that parts of the event or series may end in a way that leaves me feeling unsettled. As the group engages challenging topics, I will not seek conformity to one idea or to smooth over tension.
Touch with explicit consent means that we recognize that our bodies hold memory, feeling, belief, thought, and behaviors. How our bodies experience our world is unique to each of us. When we share spaces where touch is possible, we honor the experience of others by seeking consent and holding room for consent to change day-to-day or moment-by-moment.
Monitor agreements and normalize feedback means that I may break one of our Agreements and that if that happens, it would be normal to get feedback about my action. Normalizing feedback doesn’t mean that I won’t have an internal reaction to it. Having a healthy relationship with feedback is a counter-cultural experience for most white people and requires practice, so I will practice receiving and giving feedback fluidly as a gift toward growth and community trust.
Confidentiality -“said here stays here, learned here leaves here” means that participants might vulnerably share parts of their story. When I leave here, I commit to remain in the agreement to “share from personal reflection” as I honor confidentiality. This will sound like “I was at this event and someone said something that made me wonder about…” or “I was recently in a discussion with some fellow white anti-racists and we were discussing (topic, not who and what is said) and I felt…”
NOTE: These Agreements are adapted from Pacific Education Group