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How To Conduct A Summit/Dialogue On Race

The following is a summarized version of a booklet on How To Conduct A Summit/Dialogue On Race. For the booklet version, please contact the Office of Human Relations directly.

 

How To Get Started

1. Think about the needs within the territory where you serve.

Take an inventory of the situation.

  • What problems do you see that are related to race and ethnicity? What are the critical issues?
  • If things are really going to change, who needs to be part of the dialogue?
    Who are the individuals or groups not presently communicating with each other?
  • Are there people who should be allies, who may be doing similar work, but who are competing rather than working together?
    What are some of the consequences of racial divisions?


2. Develop a vision for your territory.

Think about what you want to accomplish in terms of the following questions.

  • Are there particular issues that need to be heard? (Remember, difficulties faced honestly can become assets, and the most unlikely people may hold the key to far- reaching success.)


3. Establish short-, medium-, and long-term goals.
Racial reconciliation will not happen overnight, but it is important to set some attainable goals that your people can work towards together. Look for hinge issues around which coalitions may form. Where possible, create task forces to study specific needs and to work on concrete plans. This approach will keep key business and civic leaders at the table.

 

4. Determine how many summits or dialogues should take place in your territory and for how long.

Summits can be planned over a number of days and include dialogues in the programming. Dialogues can be planned for one session of two hours to a series of sessions lasting indefinitely.

For example, if your goal is simply to get people you know to come together and have a conversation about race, you may only want to do one session at a meeting where most of your leaders are convened and call it a dialogue on race.

At the other end of the spectrum, if your goal is to create institutional change, you may want to launch a summit for several days with many dialogues, or you may launch a series of dialogues involving broad representations. Such an effort may require partnering with other groups and seeking out support services. Whether labeled a summit or dialogue, your occasion will include a dialogue.

 

5. Recruit participants.

To ensure the right balance for your group(s), you may need to consider the following: First, "Which voices need to be included?" Answering that question will ensure the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity necessary for successful summits and dialogues.

Then, "Who is missing?" That answer will steer you towards others who need to be involved. Other people to contact are those in uninvolved or unaffiliated groups who, while a visible part of the territory, may be hard to reach through traditional means.

 

6. Conduct the Dialogue.

The critical components:

  • Welcome participants and have them introduce themselves.
  • Set out the dialogue's purpose and establish ground rules.
  • Promote discussion through thoughtful questions, visual media, or other materials.
  • Periodically summarize and evaluate the dialogue.


7. Determine how well things went.

Document and evaluate the project.

  • Keep a record of the individuals and groups who take part in the dialogues and how well the discussions went.
  • Include such things as number of participants, group, composition, etc., main topics discussed, how productive the discussions were, how they might have been improved, and other thoughts.

    (This will allow you to see how attitudes and perceptions have changed and whether changes need to be made in the dialogue format. Emphasize that what participants share during the dialogue will not be attributed to them in any official record or document).
  • Have participants evaluate the dialogue. Evaluations can be written and/or expressed verbally. You may wish to distribute a short evaluation form to elicit participant feedback and to measure the impact of the dialogue.

    Such a form might include questions such as:
    �?� Why did you join the group?
    �?� What were your expectations?
    �?� Were you comfortable participating in the discussion?
    �?� Did the dialogue give you new insights about how to improve race
       
      relations?
    �?� Was the dialogue climate positive and respectful?
    �?� Did you find the dialogue to be a valuable experience overall?
    �?� How might it have been improved?
    �?� Would you like to participate in a future session?
    �?� Did the experience motivate you to act differently?
    �?� What additional comments do you have?


8. Take the next step.

  • Hold an annual event to celebrate achievements, evaluate effectiveness, and invite new participants.
  • Expand the team. (As the dialogues develop, include representatives of all major areas such as different faiths, education, business, media, etc. With them you may want to create a statement about the church, its history, the challenges it faces in race relations today, and our collective vision for the future.)

Difference Between A Summit and a Dialogue on Race Relations

A SUMMIT is a major conference of the highest officials gathered to discuss critical racial issues of great importance to the organization. For our purposes it contains speakers, workshops, and conversations on race relations (dialogues).

A DIALOGUE is a forum that draws participants from as many parts of a territory as possible to exchange information face-to-face, where personal stories and experiences, honestly express perspectives, clarify viewpoints, and develop solutions to territorial concerns. It can be scheduled separately or as part of a summit on race relations.

Special Acknowledgments to: The President's Initiative on Race, United States of America, whose materials were adapted to meet the needs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America's Race Relations Initiative.

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