A study circle consists of a diverse group of people meeting together to discuss issues on racism and race relations. It is not a lecture or a debate, but a group discussion where members learn from each other. Together the group will decide on a common goal and make change within the community by taking action steps to improve race relations. The intent is to get people listening to one another, which will lead to greater understanding, enhance awareness of individuals, and create efforts for action.
The discussions are lead by a trained group facilitator using a guide called Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation, a guide developed by Everyday Democracy which has been proven successful in various Study Circles across America. The facilitators are there not to act as experts on the topic, but to serve the group by keeping the discussion focused, helping others to consider a variety of views, and asking probing questions.
Meetings are held once a week for six weeks and participants are asked to attend all discussions in order to be fully engaged within the group. By participating in Study Circles, individuals gain "ownership" of the issue, discovering connections between personal experiences and public policies, and gain a deeper understanding of their own and others' personal perspectives and concerns. Often a common ground is discovered which ultimately leads to the ability to work collaboratively to solve local problems.
Study Circles are also held for youth groups using the discussion guide, "Youth Issues, Youth Voices."
If your community group, workplace, church, etc. could benefit from a Study Circle, or if you would like to be a part of an existing study circle, please call the YWCA.
Gives community members an opportunity to participate in intellectual dialogue, where people of all racial and ethical backgrounds sit down together to discuss selected books on race-related topics. The reading circle also helps to create new friendships and offers an intimate way for individuals of diverse backgrounds to better understand each other.
The YWCA takes reading circles into local elementary schools to discuss age appropriate short stories or books centered around racism and prejudice. Children have the opportunity to discuss these topics and participate in fun diversity activities.
The Racial Justice Education Program is a required training opportunity for staff of the YWCA of Bethlehem, focused on educating staff about the many and varied ways racism impacts their lives, as well as the lives of the clientele and community they serve. The program equips staff with the information and insight to identify racism when it is seen, heard and/or experienced, and helps staff identify ways to break the cycle of racism. Racial Justice Education helps staff to understand their own racial biases and to grow, both as individuals and collectively as an Association. It can also assist in dismantling stereotypes staff have internalized about others and themselves that not only influence their personal lives, but their professional lives, as well.
For more information about this program, or how it can be implemented in your workplace, please call the YWCA.
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