Fruition's Community Conversation Guidelines
At Fruition, we believe each seed, like each of us, is in the world to change the world.
As we learn to be an anti-racist organization, we share these Guidelines so we can grow trust, justice and joy as abundantly as our gardens.
These are dynamic, iterative processes, so expect them to evolve, just like us!
Here are some phrases we’re practicing along the way:
First, How is Gardening Political?
Fruition’s Community Conversation Guidelines:
It is up to white people to dismantle white supremacy.
Be curious, not furious.
Center the voices of our black and indigenous kin as well as all people of color/culture (our BIPOC community).
Recognize & compost our white guilt (and all things that don’t serve our collective well-being).
We only just begun and always.
let’s unpack each of these:
It is up to white people to dismantle white supremacy.
Expecting black people to educate white people perpetuates toxic white patriarchal supremacy culture. Here is an excellent resource to begin to see white culture, so close to so many of us that we don’t even recognize the water we swim in.
How do we build deeper relationships, in our communities and with ourselves, so we can hold contradictions as well as accountability in love, dismantling systems of oppression in our world? We are committed to the intergenerational work of cultivating a culture of curiosity, courage, and commitment to change. Starting always with ourselves, we focus on the necessity and joy of racial healing, as well as ecological justice and equitable food systems.
As a predominately white, cisgender team, Fruition is humbled and committed to our personal and collective liberation.
Here are a few BIPOC voices sharing insight inspiring this guideline:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
~ James Baldwin
“White people: Talk about racism with other white people. Have uncomfortable conversations about prejudice with other white people in your life. Realize that in these social situations you hold power and privilege. You need to initiate these conversations so that race isn’t a topic only addressed after a black person has been persecuted. Be proactive rather than reactive.”
~ Marie Beecham
“It’s a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life.”
~ Mrahmed Nurali
“Simply being nice does not equal not being racist.”
~ Rachel Cargle
With humility and commitment to our own increasing awareness, we are honored to engage in dialogue with a few more guidelines…
Be Curious, Not Furious
When we’re becoming angry or otherwise triggered, we are learning to hold ourselves accountable for learning more and asking more questions rather than leaping to the binary of black-and-white binary thinking, evaluating ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’
Friends, if in an email, comment, social media message or phone call your tone becomes defensive, we will respond, “Friend, what you are expressing is defensive. Please sit with your discomfort and respond with a constructive question to continue our conversation when you are ready.” If we respond more than twice this way, we will respectfully discontinue communicating and will delete inappropriate comments from our public dialogue: Two-way commitment to respectful communication is essential for our collective liberation.
“Demonization is colonization.”
~ Leah Penniman
Center the Voices of Black, Indigenous & People of Color/Culture
White friends, we must learn to center voices other than our own.
We’ve been socialized to think it’s normal for the world around us to center our voices and those who look like us.
To become good accomplices in liberation and good ancestors for all, we must ‘pass the mic’ with humility, knowing the mic was never ‘ours’ to begin with.
“You have a duty to change what you have the power to change.”
~ Austin Channing
Recognize & compost our white guilt
(& all else that doesn’t serve our collective well-being)
As we go…
We’ve only just begun, always.
Before You Go!
On White Fragility
~ adapted & inspired by Layla Saad, author of Me & White Supremacy as well as Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility ~
To be sure, like the rest of race, whiteness is a fiction, a construct, an agreed-upon myth with empirical grit from its effect, not its essence. Whiteness goes one step further: it is a category of identity most useful when its very existence is denied. Charles Baudelaire: The loveliest trick of the devil is to persuade you he doesn’t exist.
We don’t have to intend to exclude for the results of our actions to be exclusion.
If I’m not aware of the barriers you face, then I simply won’t see them, much less be motivated to remove them, especially if they provide an advantage to which I feel entitled.
White people in North America live in a society deeply separate and unequal by race, and white people are the beneficiaries of that separation and inequality. As a result, we are insulated from racial stress and haven’t had to build our racial stamina.
Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority, we are either unaware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We consider a challenge to our racial worldviews a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people.
How could you accuse me of…?
Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as an unsettling and unfair moral offense. The smallest amount of racial stress (the mere suggestion that being white has meaning) often triggers a range of defensive responses.
Fragility is not a weakness per se. In fact, it is a powerful means of white racial control and the protection of white advantage.
The key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort. We can use it as a door out – blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking, Why does this unsettle me? How can my unease help reveal unexamined assumptions I’ve been making? It is possible that because I am white there are racial dynamics I can’t see? Am I willing to consider the possibility? If I’m not willing, why not?
If and when conversations directly address racism and the privilege of whites, common white responses include anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argument and cognitive dissonance (all of which reinforce the pressure on facilitators to avoid directly addressing racism). So-called progressive whites may respond with not anger but still insulate themselves via claims that they are beyond the need for engaging with the content because ‘they already had a class on this’ or ‘already know this’ or ‘we’re all entitled to our beliefs.’ All these responses constitute white fragility – the result of the reduced psychosocial stamina that racial insulation inculcates.