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TRANSFORMATIONAL INTERGROUP Black-Jewish Dialogue

The Black-Jewish Dialogue is intended to facilitate intergroup learning between people of African descent and people who identify as Jewish. While Black and Jewish people share a common history of oppression in the United States based on ethnic-racial identity, American racism has limited the formation of viable, long-standing, and continuous alliances.

A simple web search of Black-Jewish Relations produces a host of articles, blogs, videos, and commentaries outlining the complex nature of past harmony and a common struggle for civil rights, as well as lamenting the decline and turmoil of contemporary relationships on an organizational and individual level.

From the PBS show, From Swastika to Jim Crow: The story of Black-Jewish relations in the United States is a long and complex one.... Jews were among those who worked to establish the NAACP in 1909. African-American newspapers were among the first in the U.S. to denounce Nazism....

The goal of this dialogue is to help individuals improve their capacity to engage issues in the area of intergroup communication, intergroup understanding, and intergroup relations among Blacks and Jews. While the dialogue will explore the institutional and historical factors impacting Black-Jewish intergroup relations, this dialogue is geared towards helping each individual better understanding their own obstacles for intergroup cooperation and coalition building. Some key questions for the dialogue would center around the following:

What is your assessment of Black-Jewish relations?
What are the contemporary obstacles to constructive intergroup relations?
What are your assumptions about Jewish and African American racial and religious identities?

 

DATES, TIMES, AND LOCATION:

The Black-Jewish Dialogue will take place on Friday, May 9 from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. The location for the dialogue is the main campus of Temple University, Room 300, Ritter Hall, 1301 Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

COST AND REGISTRATION:

The Black-Jewish Dialogue is free and open to adults interested in advancing their awareness, knowledge and skills in the area of intergroup relations.

Anyone interested in participating must register to participate online. During the online registration process, registrants will be asked about their social identity. It is our intention to have the dialogue comprised of people with either or both of these identities and to have even numbers of people of each identity.

To register for the dialogue, please click here.

Monday, May 5 is the deadline to register for this dialogue.

DIALOGUE FACILITATORS:

Hillary Blecker has a decade of experience designing and facilitating participatory trainings on workplace and community issues from developing advocacy skills to creating safer workplaces. She has worked with unions, day labor worker centers, and health clinics. Three years ago, Hillary co-founded the Philadelphia Trainers’ Collaborative, which brings educators, organizers, and trainers together to share techniques and improve their ability to use education for transformation.

Hillary earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington. She currently works as the Training Coordinator at the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health (PhilaPOSH).

Tchet Dereic Dorman is the Director of the Center for Social Justice and Multicultural Education in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership at Temple University. He is the founder of Temple's Transformational Intergroup Dialogue program and manages the Graduate Certificate in Diversity Leadership. Additionally, he has also taught the following relevant courses Emotions, Diversity, and Democratic Leadership; African American History; African Literature; Introduction to African American Studies; Gender Studies; Class, Gender and Race in the Global Village; Social Conflict; Introduction to Sociology;  Cultural Anthropology and Multiculturalism and the American Identity.  The National Association for Multicultural Education named him the Educator of the Year in 2007. Tchet received a Master’s degree in African American Studies from Temple University where he is an advanced doctoral student.

WHAT IS TRANSFORMATIONAL INTERGROUP DIALOGUE?

Transformational Intergroup Dialogue draws from two well-known and successful models for promoting democratic dialogue, action and civic engagement in the context of diversity: (a) theMichigan Intergroup Relations Model (http://www.igr.umich.edu/), a process used by the University of Michigan and universities throughout the United States to promote intergroup dialogue and engagement in higher education and community settings; and (b)Transformational Social Therapy(TST), a process used internationally to promote knowledge sharing and collaborative action involving diverse parties in municipalities, civil society, educational settings, and other public arenas. Both models are informed by the theory and practice of multicultural citizenship and theory and research on learning and equitable social change in the context of diversity. TST’s grounding in depth psychology and critical social theory complements the Michigan Model by contributing a more robust understanding of the ways human needs and social structures interact and influence intergroup behavior.

Intergroup Dialogue

An intergroup dialogue is a facilitated learning approach that engages participants in exploring issues of identity, inequality and change through continuous, face-to-face meetings between people from two or more social identity groups that have a history of conflict or potential conflict. Intergroup dialogue is an innovative strategy to enhance participant’s awareness, knowledge and skills in relating to people who are different from them. Dialogues assist participants in enhancing their skills in the area of multicultural competency development, cross-cultural communications, problem solving, teamwork and collaboration.

There are a number of universities that conduct annual intergroup dialogues following the model of the University of Michigan, including the University of Maryland College Park, University of Washington, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Occidental College, Arizona State and Mount Holyoke College. Under this model, the aim is for participants to construct new meanings together, build alliances, and move to action. Intergroup dialogue differs from other diversity education programs because it focuses on both the cognitive and affective dimensions.

Two trained facilitators from varying identity groups facilitate the dialogue. The facilitators are trained in the following areas: self awareness, including awareness of their own social identity in the context of systems of domination/privilege and of oppression/exclusion; knowledge of the groups involved in the dialogue; group process; and community building.

Transformational Social Therapy

Charles Rojzman, a renowned French social psychologist, author, and international consultant, invented Transformational Social Therapy twenty years ago as a method for transforming institutions by helping people address the hatred and violence that separate them and prevent them from working together. The Charles Rojzman Institute has done extensive work in resolving intergroup violence and conflicts in France, Rwanda, Chechnya, and Israel. The main goal of TST, which begins with group dialogues and leads to transformative action, is to foster the practice and theory of healthy multicultural democracies by building relationships between individuals and groups.

TST is oriented to community problem-solving, particularly where groups are divided and problems appear intractable. The TST group building process allows participants to express their emotions, feel sufficiently safe to come into non-violent conflict, share information, and engage in transformative action on problems that affect them.

The transformation of violence into conflict is a key aspect of TST. Violence, defined as the denial of the humanity of the other, is a pathological accommodation to fears that arise from a confluence of societal, institutional, and personal factors. This kind of violence prevents people from living, working, and problem solving together and provides support for fear-based authoritarian and extremist perspectives. The group process enables participants to move from blaming others to taking collective responsibility for the problems they face.  The ability to come into conflict, without the usual “masks”, enables participants to take collective responsibility for the problems they face and put on the table what they know about particular issues or problems.