- Number of participants = 5 – 10 BPoC, with a BPoC facilitator
- Theme = Racism, privilege, discrimination, empowerment, critical whiteness
- Duration = 3.5+ hours
- Difficult for participants = Level 4
- Difficulty for facilitator = Level 4
Note: This specific version of the method is from a German perspective.
Empowerment within a safe space. Reducing the possibility of not being talked down by a ‘white’ majority within the group. Sharing individual experiences among each other about racism, identity, etc.
‘Empower Yourself’ is a very open method based on the interaction and needs of the group. Black People and People of Colour should not be ‘forced’ to take part, but rather take part when there is an opening.
- Individual biography and talking about identity
- Coming to terms with one’s biography within a structurally racist society
- Empowerment, finding strategies to cope and sharing these
- Laptop, projector, speakers
- 4 tables
- Flip chart and flip chart paper
- Pens, permanent markers and paper
- Handout: ‘What Does “BPoC” Mean?’ (see below)
- Video: ‘Being black in Germany’ by Hadnet Tesfai or the choice of video adapted to your country context and its politics/debates on racism, identity, etc.
- Article: (Self-) Empowerment against Racial Discrimination in the Context of International Voluntary Services by Akinola Famson
- Definition of racism
The content and choice of videos and texts need to be adapted to the group within the specific country context and its politics/debates on racism, identities, etc.
This specific version of the method is from a German perspective.
For PART 1, read the article (Self-) Empowerment against Racial Discrimination in the Context of International Voluntary Services by Akinola Famson and the definition of
empowerment. Print out the handout ‘What Does “BPoC” Mean?’ for each participant.
For PART 3, write on a flip chart paper the following five questions:
1.What is racism?
2. What does racism mean for my (family‘s) biography?
3. Where and how do I experience racism?
4. How do others experience racism?
5. Can I be racist myself?
For PART 4, prepare four flip chart papers for the World-Café . Each of the papers has a different question written down on it:
1. How do I deal with racism?
2. Which coping strategies have I developed?
3. How do I want to deal with racism?
4. What social and other conditions are necessary for me or others to take action?
Flow of the Exercise
PART 1: Introduction and Definitions
Preliminary goals: Introduction and getting to know the group
Time: 30 minutes
Method: Input and discussion within a safe space
Materials: The definition of empowerment, the article (Self-)Empowerment against Racial Discrimination in the Context of International Voluntary Services by Akinola Famson, and the handout ‘What Does “BPoC” Mean?’ for each participant.
Explain to the participants that this workshop is a very open method based on the interaction and needs of this group. It is about sharing individual experiences among themselves about racism, identity, etc. and to find strategies for coping in bad situations. Nothing which is shared in this workshop will go outside of the group. The participants should see this workshop as an open conversation within a safe space.
Ask the participants (some of) the following questions:
- What is ’empowerment’?
- Why is it important to have the possibility to talk about racism and (self-)empowerment without any ‘white’ person present? Why do you have this empowerment workshop without any ‘white’ person present?
- At what point/situation, is it important for you to empower yourself?
- Are BPoC often talked down by the ‘white’ majority? Why does this happen?
- Have you noticed any differences while you were talking about racism when ‘white’ people were present as well, compared with when it was a group of only BPoC?
Distribute the handout ‘What Does “BPoC” Mean?’.
PART 2: Being a BPoC in Germany/My Country of Residence
Preliminary goals: Individual biography and identity
Time: 30-60 minutes
Method: Video and discussion
Or the choice of video adapted to your country context and its politics/debates on racism, identities, etc.
Show the video ‘Being black in Germany’ by Hadnet Tesfai, or whichever video you have chosen to use.
Have a brief, open discussion about the video:
- What is the video about?
- Do you agree with what is said?
- What is your experience?
PART 3: Biography and Racism
Preliminary goals: Coming to terms with one’s biography within a structurally racist society
Time: 90 minutes
Method: Writing down own ideas, discussion, input on definitions of racism
Materials: Papers, pens, permanent marker, flip chart, flip chart paper, one flip chart paper with the written five questions:
- What is racism?
- What does racism mean for my (family ‘s) biography?
- Where and how do I experience racism?
- How do others experience racism (e.g. family members, colleagues at work, friends, etc.)?
- Can I be racist myself?
Show the prepared flip chart paper to participants and ask the questions written on it.
Tell participants that they should write down their ideas and answers individually for these five questions for 20 to 30 minutes.
After working individually, discuss the questions in a plenary for 45 to 60 minutes. Optionally, you can collect key notes on a flip chart paper.
For a deeper discussion also ask what racism has to do with hierarchies, colonialism, etc. Represent a summary of the definition of racism from the perspective of the participants, but also add missing points of the definition of racism.
Note: Participants should only share what they feel comfortable with. Offer them a safe space.
PART 4: Options for Action
Preliminary goals: Empowering each other. Finding and sharing strategies for coping.
Time: 60 min
Method: World Café
Materials: Permanent markers or pens, four tables, four flip chart papers where each of them has a different question written down on it:
- How do I deal with racism?
- Which coping strategies have I developed?
- How do I want to deal with racism?
- What social and other conditions are necessary for me or others to take action?
Put on each table one prepared flip chart so every table has a different question. Present the different questions to the participants.
Individual work (30 minutes)
Ask the participants to go around and have a look on each flip chart paper. Without speaking, they should exchange their thoughts, ideas, feelings, answers, responses, criticisms, etc
while writing down notes on the flip chart paper for the specific questions. Just with writing, they can do a silent discussion/conversation on the flip chart papers with questions on them.
In a plenary (30 minutes)
After discussing/writing individually and silently, one or two participants read the answers/discussions to the questions on the flip chart papers aloud.
Ask the participants if someone has still some questions or thoughts which he/she wants to share.
Do a brief summary of the most important statements/results from the four different discussion-flip chart papers.
Another method to reflect on microaggression, racism and interpersonal discrimination and how to respond to racism is the method Do Not Act Like Me!.
Possible Follow up Activities
If participants wish, or it is easier for them, to act out the experienced racism and oppression, followed by finding solutions, the drama activity Forum Theatre is a great follow up activity. Ask two, three or four people to develop a short role-play of an incident. The rest of the group observes. You can stop the role-play at intervals and ask the audience to comment or to make suggestions about how the role-play should continue. Alternatively, members of the audience can intervene directly to take over from the actors and develop alternative outcomes.
Trainers and participants must all be Black People and People of Colour.
This method is a rather loose collection of ideas: the workshop itself should be based on the topics the group wants to talk about.
The content, choice of videos and texts need to be adapted to the group within the specific country context and its current politics/debates on identities and racism. This specific framework is from a German perspective.
Videos about reverse racism:
Organisations who empower and inform about the situation of BPoC in Germany (please find equivalents for your own country):
- Weltwärts in Colour e.V
- Phoenix e.V
- Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland Bund e.V
- Der braune Mob e.V.