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Hi Everyone

Greetings and thanks for signing up to receive the HCG newsletter. Well, it’s a bit of a busy time for us here as we take on new and exciting projects. Many of your were at the WPC and so should just about now be recovering from yet again a great conference. For those of you who were not there, please consider heading to Louisville next year. And as a reminder, while this newsletter is primarily meant to highlight some of the work we are doing, it is also meant to be responsive to folks reading it. So if there is information you would like HCG to consider sharing in the newsletter (like great conferences you want announced), training questions you would like addressed, or other resources and content you think would be helpful, please don’t hesitate to contact us at
- Heather

News & Events

Congratulations to Stephen Nelson for receiving the Herbert Polesky Award to "honor his work with patients and families affected by sickle cell disease and for his commitment to end racial health care disparities." The award is given by Memorial Blood Center in memory of Dr. Herbert F. Polesky, an international leader in transfusion medicine and MBC’s medical director from 1964 through 1999.  Congratulations, Stephen!

Conferences & Presentations


American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO) Annual Meeting, May 17th, 2014, Palmer House Hilton-Chicago
Stephen Nelson will be doing a poster presentation of the research that Stephen and Heather have been doing with Broadway Family Medicine. This forthcoming study assesses the impact of our Race, Racism and Whiteness training on the knowledge and attitudes of both white providers and providers of color with regards to racial equity in healthcare.

The National Conference On Race and Ethnicity, Indianapolis, IN, May 27-31, 2014
This conference is primarily for those in higher education, but is of value to anyone interested in addressing racial issues in an educational setting. In years past Heather has presented major workshops and this year she will be presenting two workshops (and possibly a third) the first entitled, “Calling Out the Wizard Behind the Curtain: Critically Addressing the Corrosive Effects of Whiteness in Teacher Education” and the second, “The Body Already Knows: A Framework for Dismantling Race, Racism and Whiteness and Achieving Racial Justice”. A possible third presentation, “Racial Justice Organizational Change from 30,000 Feet: Models and Implementation for the Big Picture” is yet to be determined.
Of note as well, Vandana Shiva is one of the keynotes this year and is sure to provide a powerful and forward-leaning body of knowledge regarding social justice, climate justice, food justice, and living as a collective community in the 21st century. A few of us at HCG have read and followed her work with great interest and she is surely one of the global community’s best thinkers regarding the deep international intersections of these issues.

Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) Annual Conference, June 5, 2014, The Commons Hotel-Minneapolis.
Stephen Nelson will be on a panel discussion on health equity.

Knapsack Institute, June 12-14, Matrix Center, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

From the Knapsack Institute’s web site, “As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, it is imperative to have the understanding and resources to effectively navigate discussions about diversity and inequality in the classroom and workplace. The Knapsack Institute is designed for individuals at the beginning to intermediate stages of this journey, as well as those seeking to refresh their approach and embrace intersectional strategies. The Institute is designed for all educators (k-12; higher education; workshop facilitators, etc.). Race, class, gender and sexuality are highly personal and emotionally-laden subjects. They may evoke a range of responses, from hostility and anger to guilt and depression. The Institute will prepare you to preempt and manage such responses and be better prepared. Our goal is to provide you with the tools, knowledge and support to create an inclusive and empowering educational setting and experience.”
Heather is presenting three workshops here: a 2-hour session on “Dismantling Heterosexism, Homophobia and Gender Oppression in Our Teaching and Training”, a 2-hour session examining “Climate Justice and Sustainability in the Curriculum”, and a similar Climate Justice session spread out as a 6-hour intensive the following day.
Registration and more information about the institute can be found on their web site.

International Conference On Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Reykjavik, Iceland (University of Iceland), June 27-28, 2014
Heather is presenting a workshop entitled, “Climate Change Mindset: Understanding, Identifying and Transforming the Race, Class and Gender Mindset that Has Brought Us To This Climate Emergency” on Friday, 27 June, 12:40-14:00 in Room 5. If you happen to be in the area, feel free to stop by :)
More Than Skin Deep: Dismantling White Privilege and White Supremacy One Cell At A Time” Summer Institute, August 1-3, Minneapolis, MN

Between 2009 and 2012 Susan Raffo and Heather have conducted a number of one-day workshops (same title as above) for White folks doing racial justice work in their personal lives, work lives, and community lives. We estimate that over the course of those 4 years perhaps 250 people have gone through that initial Skin Deep workshop and, based on the feedback from participants and our own assessment of how to best do this work, we are now offering a 3-day “More that Skin Deep…” Institute. If you have any interest, please read the description in this newsletter and/or go to the HCG website for information on registration, location, and other details. See below for more details!
More than Skin Deep: Uprooting White Privilege and White Supremacy One Cell at a Time
A Three-Day Workshop
August 1-3, 2014 Minneapolis, MN
Downtown YWCA
Presenters:  Heather Hackman and Susan Raffo
This institute is for White people who already have an understanding of Race, Racism and particularly Whiteness (RRW), and who want to learn more about how to dismantle Whiteness (White Privilege and White Supremacy) through embodiment work, education, visioning and practical action. While the focus of the institute is on Whiteness, all concepts and tools presented are geared toward improving our racial justice work and ultimately ending racial oppression.
Here’s what you can expect to learn:
  • The connection between RRW and trauma in the individual and social body of White people
  • The ways this trauma inhibits effective and consistent racial justice work on the part of White people
  • Tools to better respond to how this interruption happens and to then build resiliency in White people
  • A framework for a collective pathway to dismantling Racism and Whiteness in U.S. society

 Here's what others are saying about Skin Deep:

"The Skin Deep workshop is clearly needed. The conversations were stimulating, challenging, and the environment was safe enough to dig into the hard work of untangling the effects of white privilege. Susan and Heather are amazing facilitators with individual, yet complimenting strengths. They led the group on a daylong exploration that I am still contemplating, years later." - Ethan T.

Cost: Sliding scale $225-$450
For more information go to
Racial Disparities, Provider Bias, and a Path to Health Equity, October 22, 2014, Northwestern Health Sciences University, Bloomington, MN.

Stephen Nelson will be offering a keynote presentation to the staff of Northwestern. Please contact the University for ticket information. 

Developing Work

Raising Children In An Era of Climate Disruption: Teaching Truth, Supporting Justice, and Building Resilience

Building off of Heather's more recent work around climate change and climate justice, Susan and Heather have developed a workshop (can be adapted to last from 4-8 hours) specifically geared toward parents and the incredible challenges that lie ahead for their children as a result of climate change. Addressing the profound mix of feelings parents and adult caregivers of children face (ranging from the fear for what their children will be inheriting to the intensity of their parental commitment to help them be prepared for it), this workshop is designed to 1) share a range of critical information about the coming climate reality, 2) provide a socially just framework through which to address it, and 3) offer up tools and suggestions to help build our children’s’ resiliency as they do. If you are interested in bringing this workshop to your area please contact us through the HCG web site.
Racial Justice As a Spiritual Imperative

Heather has been doing more and more racial justice work in communities of faith lately and in the process has developed this talk for a range of spiritual communities that can span 1-3 hours and be done as a stand-alone or an interactive workshop. If you are interested in bringing this talk to your community of faith please contact us through the HCG web site.

Book Review

Salzberg, S. and Thurman, R. (2013). Love your enemies. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.

Sharon Salzberg is a nationally known Vipassana Buddhist meditation teacher, one of the early teachers to bring this form of mindfulness to the U.S., and is one of the founders of Insight Meditation Society. The focus of much of her work has been (and continues to be) Lovingkindness (metta) practice and many of her books are tied to this topic in some way or another. Robert Thurman is known for his teaching and speaking on Tibetan Buddhism and teaches at Columbia University and focuses his writing and teaching on inner work and compassion. Together they have written a book (born out of their experiences as teachers and practitioners) that deftly discusses the toxicity of anger in our lives and that identifies a pathway out of that anger. Specifically, they take the reader through a journey into themself beginning with what they call “the outer enemy” (what most of our society would identify as the only enemy), and then a layer deeper to what they call “the inner enemy”, and still one layer deeper to “the secret enemy”, and finally to the deepest layer or “the super-secret enemy”. All the while they are encouraging the reader to use the core tenets of mindfulness and meditation to face, and with love, compassion and wisdom, let go of these layers of anger and move to a place of freedom.
In true Buddhist fashion, however, they do not suggest that “vanquishing one’s outer and inner enemies” happens through the destruction of the enemy, but rather through the embracing of that enemy via love and compassion. “Anger will not defeat anger. Love alone can dispense of anger.” And it is in this analysis and these offerings that I find the greatest utility for social justice educators and organizers: there can be no peace through the lens of anger. We’ve heard this admonition countless times in our society on countless bumper stickers and t-shirts: “know peace or no peace”, “you cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war”, or “if you want justice, work for peace”. And yet, when I look at the curricula for social justice-based graduate programs around the country, I rarely see any mention of mindfulness, compassionate education, or embodied wisdom in any of the course offerings. Rather, social justice work in this society is all too often presented as a battle, a fight, and challenge to power instead of a complete subversion of that paradigm via the treatment of that oppressive use of power with compassion and wisdom. To be sure, I am not suggesting that we forgo the engaged and visible calling out of oppressive structures, but I am suggesting that more space can be given in social justice circles to the framework that Salzberg and Thurman lay out in this book and recommend this to any social justice educator, organizer or activist who is thinking “there must be something more we can do”.
(Looking to buy a copy? Support local! Find it at Magers and Quinn or get it delivered from Boneshaker Books!)


Just a reminder, that if you would like to get the blogs as they are posted via email, there is a way for you to “opt in” to that on the “Newsletter” link on the web site. Otherwise, you can join HCG on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter. Or, you can wait for the newsletter and view them through the blog link. This newsletter we have:
  • “Discovering Mindfulness”, March 5, 2014, Heather Hackman
  • “Reflections On the WPC 15”, April 16, 2014, Heather Hackman
  • “Close Cousins, But Definitely Not The Same”, May 8, 2014, Heather Hackman

Training Tidbit

Training that is proportional

I recently had this conversation with a client and thought it might be worth mentioning here. In a nutshell, I get calls from many different types of organizations where the caller (perhaps the Executive Director, or the Principal, or the head of HR) wants to have their board or teachers or staff have one day of training where “they are able to really see racism and understand white privilege and then do some good strategic planning / visioning around that for our organization”. And what I know is that that request is rarely, if ever, possible. The first reason is because they are substantially underestimating the amount of time it takes to truly cover the content related to Race, Racism and Whiteness and are therefore setting themselves up for (at best) a superficial “visioning” process or (at worst) a visioning process that will in the end reproduce the same White liberalism, unconscious Racism, and elements of micro-aggressions in their workplace that were already there. It is almost better to do no training than to do a training where the content is addressed in such a shallow fashion and yet allows White liberals to “check off” the list their “diversity” training. In this way White folks become even more emboldened in their assertions that they’ve “got” this content and they then become correspondingly more resistant when they are challenged on their White liberalism.
Second, the leader who is suggesting that all of this can be done in one day is often overestimating the knowledge base of their staff and therefore setting them up to potentially fail in their charge to “develop a vision and plan” from this training. The result is that they either produce an ineffective model or they become very hesitant to act because they know they are not prepared enough to do good work.
The take-home message is that racial justice training must be proportional to the Race, Racism and Whiteness issues in the organization. No sense in having “100x” of RRW in your organization but respond to it with “5x” of training. No reasonable or effective organizational change will come of that. Some may say, “well, at least it’s a start”, which would be true if that “5x” were done twenty times over the course of a clearly dedicated period of time. In the case I am talking about hare, it was one day allocated to this work. Instead, I advocate “proportional training” whereby an organization honestly and critically reflects upon the amount of actual time, energy and overall commitment they are willing to give to this work and then ensure that the expected outcomes match that. Unfortunately, racial justice work is often cast in the same light as “IT training” or “personnel training” and is rarely given its due proportionality in the organizational training plan. When this is the case, matters can sometimes be made worse, but at the very least a tepid and shallow response to racial issues is the inevitable result.
- Heather

Climate Change Corner

This is a new piece I am adding due to the ever-increasing importance of this conversation. If you know me, you know I have been talking about the issue of climate change, climate disruption, and climate justice as often as I can. Last month I gave an Earth Day keynote at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with the basic message that you simply cannot address the current climate emergency through the same racist, classist, gender oppressive lens that got us here (if you are not sure how those three forms of oppression brought us to the brink of this climate emergency, then I’d be happy to come chat with you or your group as I’m doing with some folks in Seattle this June). And so, as we come to understand the current climate reality and craft solutions in response, we must do so through a race, class, gender justice lens. Easier said than done, and yet we really have no alternative. This is no time for political expediency nor is it a time to say that “equity issues” are too wishy-washy for such a dire situation. There simply is no other lens we can solve this problem through, if we are to develop a just, sustainable future for all of us. And so, how do we begin to undertake a paradigm shift that will require nothing less than a massive transformation of the Western worldview? We build the kind of emotional, spiritual, ethical, and moral resiliency that can trump the fear, the ignorance, and the deep seduction that the privilege of such a mindset affords the societies steeped in them.
These three elements are the focus of my workshops and trainings on this content as well as the crux of the book I am beginning to rough out with the same name as the above workshops. No, I really do not think we actually need another book on climate change. On the other hand, perhaps if nothing else this book will give me a place to hold all of my ideas such that when I chat about them it will give folks something deeper to chew on when I’m done. In truth, I think only those I love plus another dozen people perhaps would ever read such a book, and yet if we all begin to take whatever action we can to not only respond to the facts and science of the climate emergency, but dig a little deeper and work to craft a new vision for how we can be in this new world, we will all be doing our part.
In the mean time, I suggest you examine the IPCC’s last three abbreviated reports, the White House Report on climate change in the U.S. (the 2014 National Climate Assessment), and read some of the daily articles on Every day the information regarding climate change seems to be exponentially increasing and so it can be tricky to know what is what. But, as you expose yourself to more of the information (from reputable sources like the IPCC) you will start to glean the trends and overall picture. As Rachel says, “watch this space” - in each newsletter we will offer more and more content and resources for all of you to incorporate this information into the wide range of social justice work you do.
- Heather
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