5.5 - Developing our “Both/And” Skill Set – Conversations about Appropriation

5.5 – Developing our “Both/And” Skill Set – Conversations about Appropriation (1 hour 15 minutes)

Materials needed: “Both/And” Appropriation Strategy Sheet, Sample Situation Prompts handout, butcher paper, markers

Purpose of piece: To develop strategies for conversations related to appropriation and practice using role plays.

Say to group: We’re going to spend some time today specifically practicing our conversational skills about issues of appropriation. We’ll start by exploring some strategies, and then consider how we’d use them in day-to-day practice.

To start, we want to focus on how we want to have the conversation. We know we’re interested in uplifting the “both/and”, the fact that complexity is something we can accept. What we also want to do is release the “they should know better” and “they should do things differently” attitude.

To really sink into that, let’s do a quick brainstorm of what our approach might looks like when we’re in a frame of mind that captures the attitude we want to convey. In other words, what is the mental orientation we’d like to have when we engage in these discussions? (10 minutes)

Say to group: We’re now going to review some potential strategies we can use when engaging with people who are engaged with cultural appropriation. Let’s read these aloud, one by one, and then see if there are any questions. (10 minutes)

Facilitator’s Note: You’ll likely want to mention that these are not required approaches. They are simply some ideas that might prove useful, handy thoughts to keep in mind as tools. Also, you may find it useful to do a mini role play so people can get a sense of what this looks like. Or, a facilitator might model with a co-facilitator or participant.

Say to group: Let’s now get into triads to work through some situations. The idea is for each person to have a turn playing out a situation they select. We should have about 30 minutes, so each person would get about 10 minutes. For each “round,” each person will play a role, either yourself, a focus person, or a witness. When it is your turn, you will play yourself and select a situation to practice. One of your partners will be your focus person. This is the person you will engage with directly. The focus person will take on the persona of the person in the situation. The third partner will be a witness and will observe the interaction, paying attention to what it feels like to experience the exchange. (Group formation – 5 minutes)

Say to group: It is not required that you use the sample situation prompts provided on the handout. If there is a situation you are facing, a conversation you know you need to have with someone in your family or community, feel free to use that one instead. (Review sample situation prompts – 5 minutes)

Facilitator’s Note: If you elected to use the 4.6 Developing our “both/and” Skill Set – Eliciting Personal Stories section when discussing Chapter 4, then you might want to skip reading the paragraph below. However, if you did not elect to use that section or you think it would be a good reminder, you can review this recommendation to try out the role play.

“We know how easy it is to talk about a scenario and never play it out. Please push yourself to do the role play. Many facilitators of this structure report dramatic learning that comes from playing out the scenes, practicing in the moment. The real insight often comes from the focus person and witness providing feedback regarding what it felt like to experience the conversation at different points, what statements drew them in as well as which statements pushed them farther away. Please take the risk to try this and see if you can reap the same benefits.”

Trial role plays (30 minutes)

Large group debrief: (15 minutes)

  1. How was the process for you?
  2. What was challenging? Why? What worked well? Why?

Wrap Up: Navigating questions of appropriation are generally difficult, as they confront people’s sense of personal freedom. They can be murky too, in terms of looking for a “right” answer, especially if people receive mixed messages. One way to stay in the conversation for us to continue asking “why” questions when we get stuck. This way, we at least can explore the personal motivation underlying the choice. Locating an underlying desire might provide a place for connection and move things along.