Antiracism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Becoming antiracist and working for a deeper democracy

The Process Work Institute offers our respect to the elders, both past and present, who have stewarded the land and indigenous knowledge and practices for generations.

We acknowledge the land where we are privileged to be based, now called Portland, Oregon in Multnomah County, as the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas,

bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla, Wasco, Cowlitz and Watlala, and other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River but whose names have been lost due to the genocidal impacts of colonization.

The Process Work Institute is committed to becoming antiracist in all our practices as an educational organization by confronting and transforming the unconscious, implicit and institutional biases unavoidably embedded in our culture and structures. We recognize the pervasive and harmful impact of racist ideas, practices and policies in the United States where we are based, and internationally.  We acknowledge the intersectionality of different forms of social marginalization and the complexity of our individual histories and embodiment.

We offer Processwork tools, ideas and practices as a contribution to the bigger work of social change in the hope of co-creating a world where everyone feels welcome and able to flourish. We seek to use awareness to facilitate the emergence of community from the painful conflicts that divide us by processing the agony and pain of historical and present day injustices. We practice awareness-based facilitation with the intention that our differences can become a source of joy, excitement and creativity and that we find the common ground of community. This work is not easy or fast, and it takes a serious commitment and dedication to the practice of awareness and a tolerance for the discomfort of being radically de-centered at times. Processwork seeks to address not only the facts and figures of the real and measurable impacts of social marginalization, but also the emotional, subjective, and most intangible and subtle levels of our experience.

Ibram X. Kendi defines racist ideas as those which define a racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group.[1]Kendi, Ibram X. (2016) Stamped from the Beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America. Nation Books: New York. Antiracism is the idea that racialized groups are inherently equal and that the measurable disparities in social outcomes between racialized groups is the result of racial discrimination enacted through racist policies, practices and institutions. Racist ideas are used to justify the racist policies and practices which protect the self-interest of the subgroups defined as racially superior.

The measurable differences in outcomes across social indicators like health, education, wealth assets and income, incarceration rates, employment rates, experiences of police brutality, experiences of hate crimes and immigration challenges are the outcome of systemic forces. They are also a lived experience that impacts people in racialized groups personally, intimately, every single day.

Leticia Nieto explains how the psychological experience of valuing one group as superior to another group happens as an automated and impersonal judgement that usually occurs without our conscious knowledge or intent, an instantaneous sorting into the category of high or low across social categories such as race, age, disability, religion, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, indigenous heritage, national origin, and gender.[2]Nieto, Leticia. et al (2010) Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment: A developmental strategy to liberate everyone. Cuetzpalin. A commitment to antiracism and anti oppression means recognizing the harmful effects of racist and other supremicist ideas, policies and institutional practices and working to advance antiracist and anti-oppressive ideas, policies and practices so that all people can flourish and we can benefit from the richness and creativity of a diverse community of equals.

The historical and present day impacts of racist policies continue to injure and to shape the experience of black, indigenous and other people of color around the world. It is measurable that BIPOC people in the US today continue to experience shockingly worse health outcomes as well as worse treatment in the healthcare system, for example. These tangible, life-threatening effects of structural racism are also an embodied trauma in people’s bodies, minds and hearts, layers of grief and pain that need to be acknowledged, attended to and healed if we are to create a deeper democracy.[3]Menakem, Resma. (2017) My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies. Central Recovery Press. As a human society, we are in a process of becoming accountable for the racist policies that have created and are maintaining the unequal distribution of privilege, resources, rights and freedoms which impact access to healthcare, rights, resources, and freedom of choice in our society. This is not easy work, but we can do it.

2021 Strategic Focus

The Process Work Institute is committed to efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion and is engaged in a multi-year, multi-level engagement to advance our understanding and practices around anti-racism, racial equity and accessibility.

PWI recognizes the vital importance of reckoning with the history and impacts of European colonization, including in the US, the specific history of African slavery and the attempted genocide of indigenous peoples.  This history includes the present day and ongoing injustices experienced by African Americans and Indigenous peoples, as well as other racialized and otherwise marginalized groups.

The Process Work Institute was formed with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through what we call deep democracy and worldwork values and practice.  Our staff, PWI faculty and board have a range of diversity in nationality, gender experience, sexual orientation, age, class, religion and life experience.  However, PWI has historically had a predominantly white faculty and staff.  As an organization we are taking actions to identify and address elements of systemic racism in our organizational structures, culture and practices.

The following provides an overview of some of the actions taken or in progress towards ever more deeply embodying our worldwork values and becoming an anti-racist organization.

In January 2020, PWI initiated a Board strategic working group to focus resources and leadership on anti-racism work and subsequently established a community based anti-racism Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to advise the PWI Board.

In early 2021, the CAC presented change recommendations to the PWI Board, and we are working on these actions and on developing a strategic anti-racism Action Plan to be shared publicly to invite and engage the community in our change process and accountability measures.

Work to date has included:

  • Revised and strengthened Grievance Procedures to address rank issues and support bringing up concerns.
  • Board antiracism working group to review student and community feedback, interview and work with external consultants to develop anti-racism strategic actions.
  • Creation of an antiracism Community Advisory Committee to bring external expertise, guidance and accountability
  • Institutional acknowledgment of the feedback, of our grief and regret and commitment to change.
  • Fundraising to create new POC scholarships and Faculty positions
  • Community investment in mentorship and support of new POC faculty
  • Additional investment to support faculty of color collaboration through guest teachers budget
  • Supporting and strengthening the anti-oppression curriculum
  • New cohort diversity orientation curriculum implemented October 2020.
  • Faculty education and group processes, including:
    • What is an anti-racist classroom (recognizing white centrality, micro aggressions, etc);
    • Strategies for recruiting and retaining faculty of color
    • PWI history and context in working with race

Further priority actions include:

  • Continuing organization-wide education, training and development for creating and sustaining an antiracist learning space
  • Establish, resource and publish our public action plan – building from CAC recommendations
  • Raising awareness about cultural appropriation and ensuring that we are respectfully acknowledging the communities and knowledge bases from which we draw
  • Diversifying PWI Board membership to better represent our community and guide our mission
  • Development of new teaching opportunities for graduates of color
  • Working with curriculum revision and renewal to embody antiracism in all our teaching materials and practices
  • Practicum-Internship support issues including tackling discrimination impacts on non-American interns and diversifying the faculty supervision team.
  • Revising faculty biography templates to promote anti-racism values.