There are eight scientifically proven practices that reduce bias and enable inclusion, diversity, equity, and antiracism (IDEA). Each podcast, we will provide resources for action rooted in this proven research. After listening to Episode 1 with Nadia Bolz-Weber on Respecting Differences, we encourage the practice of Intergroup Contact.
Simply defined, this is about stepping out of our comfort zones on a regular basis to engage with people who don’t look like us, think like us, talk like us, and have not lived like us. This practice in meaningful and ongoing contact across lines of difference expands our empathy and humanizes the “other” or perceived other. This allows us to respect different forms of expression and to deepen our understanding that we may not really know what is going on.
Dushaw Hockettt, founder of the S.P.A.C.E.S. Project explains, “‘The science behind intergroup contact (Linda Tropp, Professor Social Psychology, University of Amherst) says that if we practice it habitually across lines of difference, if it is an ongoing practice and it’s meaningful and substantive, it does three things:
- Facilitates psychological investment;
- Deepens empathy; and
- Humanizes the other (or perceived other).”
- List the first name of 5-10 people in your personal life and/or work life with whom you are in deep community. For the purpose of this exercise, deep community is defined as:
- Frequency – you and the other person communicate often; and quality – there’s openness and vulnerability in the relationship. In these relationships, you’re beyond the stage of pretense.
- The people are NOT family members.
- Reflect on the identities of these friends (to the extent you know it). Indicate their social/cultural group identity (race, gender, physical ability) with an “x” in the relevant columns.
- Once you have completed steps 1 and 2, then reflect.
- When you reflect on your list, what story does it tell?
- Which groups (i.e., race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, country of origin, etc.) are missing? And why are they not on the list?
- Given the value of intergroup contact as an evidence-based strategy for reducing bias and increasing empathy, what’s one step you can take within the next month or so to expand your circle of substantive relationships?
If you have already done this exercise – or one’s like it – and are ready to go deeper, reflect on the following:
4. In what ways have systems and structures shaped your substantive relationships? Systems and structures refers to the schools you attended; employment opportunities you’ve had; the place(s) where you were born and/or raised (i.e., city, state, country, town, neighborhood)?
5. What role might in-group preferences and/or out-group prejudices play with respect to these relationships?
6. How have your relationships changed over the years? In other words, if you completed the attached chart 10, 20 or 30 years ago, would the results still be the same? If no, why not?
7. Would the people on your list say that they are in deep relationship with you?