|ORDER TRACKING CONTACT US|
|close||home||go to Shattering the Silences|
A Framework for Group Facilitation
by Parker Johnson
(Shattering the Silences is a video produced and directed by Gail Pellett and Stanley Nelson )
Shattering the Silences is the first film to look at campus life through the eyes of faculty of color. Eight scholars share their stories of life in the academy - how they transformed and were transformed by their respective disciplines and institutions. The video makes a powerful statement about intellectual rigor, academic honesty and racial justice. But its message cuts two ways. While Shattering the Silences demonstrates the educational benefits of faculty diversity, it also reveals the unique challenges and pressures faced by faculty of color at predominately white institutions (PWI's).
Colleges and universities are struggling - sometimes successfully, sometimes not - to create rich, diverse and intellectually vibrant climates in the classroom and on campus. Shattering the Silences does not capture all the issues of political culture in the academy. But it raises several key concerns about identity and knowledge, teaching and learning, affirmative action, and life on campus which remain troublesome and controversial, especially on predominately white campuses where the battles for racial justice are most keen. Perhaps most significantly, Shattering the Silences makes visible the onerous "cultural tax" ("Cultural taxation" is the obligation to show good citizenship towards the institution by serving its needs for ethnic representation on committees, or to demonstrate knowledge and commitment to a cultural group, which, though it may bring accolades to the institution, is not usually rewarded by the institution on whose behalf the service was performed. Padilla, A.M. 1994. "Ethnic Minority Scholars, Research, and Mentoring: Current and Future Issues." Educational Researcher, 23(4), p.24-27). so many faculty of colore must pay as the price for admission to PWIs The courageous and gifted scholars in Shattering the Silences lay bare their joys and sorrows, their passions and pain, and their hopes and aspirations. Their stories offer viewers the opportunity to look more closely at their colleagues', their institution's and their own attempts to achieve racial diversity and academic excellence. Screenings of Shattering the Silences will stimulate open and candid discussion about how much headway has - or hasn't - been made towards inclusion, diversity and excellence on your campus. They will also help you identify institutional, departmental and individual obstacles to progress and consider specific changes and practices which might make your institution more welcoming towards faculty of color and improve their quality of life.
This Facilitator Guide will help you use Shattering the Silences as a catalyst for institutional change. It will further discussion among faculty, staff, and students (especially graduate students) about the educational benefits derived from a diverse faculty, obstacles to progress, and the strengths and weaknesses of potential remedies to the many recruiting, hiring, promotion and retention problems the film reveals.
Facilitators need to help viewers move from an examination of their own world to the world of the screen and then back again fresh with new insights and ideas. In other words, they must integrate the video screening into a larger, well-defined process of critical inquiry and action. The Pre-Screening Questions will help you define a common context and purpose for viewing while the Post-Screening Questions are designed to deepen understanding of the issues raised in the video and to apply the insights gained to the situation on your campus.
The questions and exercises have been designed to foster personal, departmental and institutional self-examination at any one of four different organizational levels or objectives. Possible settings or audiences on campus where you can productively screen the video and hold your discussion depend upon your Level of Use:
Sample Agenda - Long Format (2.5 - 3.5 hours)
Sample Agenda - Short Format (60-90 minutes)
If you have a much shorter time (60-90 minutes) , it may be necessary to select excerpts of the video for presentation (see the Thematic Synopsis below). Alternatively, you can put the video "on reserve" in your media library for viewing ahead of time.
It will be important to frame the discussion explicitly to provide a clear context for the screening. Or if you have only 30-45 minutes for discussion after viewing the entire film, you may want to select one or two issues depending on the audience's interests. Sample agenda:
Two facilitators (at least) are ideal whenever possible, preferably a racially mixed pair (and male/female) to create safety and model trust, mutual respect and cooperation. One can focus on process and emotions while the other concentrates on flow and content. Develop a solid base of knowledge on identity development, institutional racism, race and gender relations, organizational change, interpersonal dynamics and multicultural education through readings and discussion before serving as a facilitator (the readings and resources appended to this Guide will help). Finally, the facilitator(s) should be sensitive to her or his own hot buttons around the topics.
It is the facilitator's role to establish a safe space with ground rules for the participants and a context for thoughtful and productive conversation. The following are suggestions for creating a healthy atmosphere. Ask the group to:
You might want to consider bringing in a professional with experience using Shattering the Silences to lead discussions on your campus. One such person is Dr. Mildred Garcia, Associate Vice Provost at Arizona State University West and an advisor to the video production. She can be reached at Millieg@asu.edu.
(Some of the above was drawn from the Skin Deep Study Guide, an excellent video and resource, also available from California Newsreel.)
The following menu of questions will help define a common context or framework for screening Shattering the Silences, a point from which to view and a purpose for viewing. They will help elicit participants' own sometimes unspoken attitudes and preconceptions about diversity and the situation on your campus. Choose the questions most relevant to your Use Level and Objectives. Assign the questions ahead of time if possible. Some of them will require research. You can use the questions in any one of several ways:
Ask participants to share their responses with the group. You might want to list the different replies, but refrain from discussing or debating the answers in any detail now. The point is to help bring into the open attitudes and preconceptions about the issue prior to screening so that:
1. Are you comfortable talking about race and racism? What makes you uncomfortable about discussing race relations?
2. Recount a memorable experience with or as a minority faculty member at, a predominately white institution.
3. How do you think your racial, gender, sexual orientation, and class background informs your views of race relations? What experiences have you had with racism (personal or professional)? What did you do? Why? What results did you achthe academy? To what extent do you believe they are mutually exclusive or inclusive?
5. Does your school's mission statement include a commitment to diversity and a diverse faculty? What does it say? Is this commitment a publicly stated priority of your institution's leader? and how has he or she acted on it? Are people and departments held accountable for diversity?
6. What is the history of recruiting, hiring, retaining and promoting faculty of color? What do the data reveal (current, and past 10 years)? In which departments and at what level does your institution employ faculty of color (assistant / associate / full professor)? Where are people of color located in the administrative structure (including the board of trustees, administration, faculty and staff)?
7. How has the debate over affirmative action hiring manifested itself at your institution? What are the key issues? How do different constituencies on campus divide over the debate?
8. To what extent do you believe faculty diversity on your campus is
A. as a remedy for past and present discrimination
Use this Thematic Guide to excerpt specific parts of the video for reference, repeat screening, or to select segments if you do not have time to screen the entire program. The numbers indicate the beginning and ending running times in minutes and seconds of each section with 00'00" corresponding to the first frame of the opening "A Film From California Newsreel" title. You may also find it helpful to refer to the transcript of Shattering the Silences. The entire transcript can be found on California Newsreel's web site at www.newsreel.org.
THEME TWO: Personal and Professional Lives
THEME THREE: Teaching, Learning and Student-Faculty Relations
THEME FOUR: Affirmative Action
After screening the video, choose topics for discussion most germane to your own campus's situation and the interests of those participating in your event. Be sure to focus the conversation (but not too narrowly). The sample questions below are organized according to Level of Use and Objectives (see page 3, Using Shattering the Silences on Your Campus). But issues often overlap so be certain to review all the questions and feel free to mix and match according to what's best for you.
1. The first student in the film complains, "All the professors I've had have been predominately white males and I'm only getting that perspective from them so I'd really appreciate a different perspective." Why are a broad range of perspectives, class offerings, texts, and face-to-face interaction important to education? Why might the race and gender of faculty be a factor in whether different perspectives are offered? Are students on your campus exposed to a diversity of ideas and perspectives?
2. John Searle declares, "Forget about your race, it's largely irrelevant to your intellectual development." Do you believe race relevant or irrelevant to your own intellectual development? To what extent does your racial identity open new possibilities for inquiry - or limit and constrain your intellectual growth?
3. Some argue of a diverse faculty accrues from ts well. For example, a diverse faculty would challenge the stereotypical assumption of many white students that black people all think alike. What do you think? Do you see evidence of this on your campus?
4. Nell Painter says, "I think it's the sense that white people belong on top and they shouldn't have to give up anything for anybody." Do you agree that this is an underlying reason many white people oppose affirmative action? Why or why not? How do you feel about affirmative action? What would the end of affirmative action mean to your institution.
5. Miguel Algarin says, "I can go to school and teach the children of the janitors, the judges, the lawyers and doctors of Jersey their culture and then come back and create mine." Do you think it important to connect with one's own culture and the cultures of others? What intellectual and personal bridges have you built by crossing cultures? What barriers need to be overcome and how?
6. Are most of your personal and professional networks dominated by one racial or cultural group? What have you done to support or expand your network of relationships in meaningful ways?
7. Shawn Wong points out, "Asian American is obviously a political term. It was a term of self determination that described not only your sense of self but a political sense of self too...as a person that belonged to a community. One that is defined by your experience in America." If Asian American is a political term, are all other ethnic/racial group names political terms (including European Americans)? Why? How is your ethnic or racial group defined by its experience in America? How does it define you? Who does the defining? To what extent is it liberating or limiting to define yourself by your group(s)?
8. What have you done - and what more can you do - to deepen your commitment to racial justice and combat in? Can you list three actions you can take as an individual?
1. One of the students at the beginning of the film says, "You just can't have a good faculty unless it's diverse." Do you agree? Enumerate the educational benefits of a diverse faculty. Discuss not only intergroup relations, but also institutional satisfaction, involvement, and academic growth. What are the costs of not having a diverse faculty? Do the advantages of a diverse faculty benefit all students, or only students of color? Why?
2. John Searle voices a popular criticism of affirmative action: "If you're given a choice in faculty hiring between a superior white male, let's say, and a not so good minority member of a target minority, you're supposed to choose the less qualified person." Do you agree? Is this how decisions are usually made on your campus? How is "quality" defined on your campus and by whom? What do people mean when they say they are looking for a "qualified minority?" Do What is the hiring, tenure and promotion record of the department? Is there a commitment to diversity and excellence? How are junior faculty introduced to the department and mentored through tenure and promotion? What specific efforts (policies and practices) have improved the recruitment, selection, hiring and retention of faculty of color?
4. Gloria Cuadraz claims, "One of the difficulties has been having minority candidates seriously considered for the positions. It's lobbying, it's political work..." Is this the case on your campus? To what extent is hiring about politics and lobbying? Are candidates of color taken less seriously? How does this view affect hiring, tenure and promotion? What steps can be taken to change this?
5. The video illustrates the unique service burden many faculty of color carry, especially advising responsibilities and committee service, and that these commitments can get in the way of one's research. Is this the case in your department? To what extent do department hiring, promotion, and tenure criteria value service? Is it weighted appropriately? (see also Level Four, Question 7)
6. How is membership in ethnic-based professions or ethnic subcommittees of national organizations valued? How are ethnic-based journals and publications viewed (e.g. Journal of Negro Education, Journal of Asian American Studies, Journal of Multicultural Counseling, etc.), especially during tenure review?
1. Alex Saragoza complains, "I'm associated with Chicano Studies, where people...assume we do second rate scholarship and third rate research and...fourth rate teaching..." Why is Chicano Studies (or other ethnic studies) devalued? Is this true for ethnic studies on your campus? How do these attitudes inform the perceptions of other minority teaching and research held by some white faculty on your campus? What can be done to challenge these attitudes?
2. Robin Kelley explains, "Multiculturalism was an effort to revise the curriculum...Who makes the determination as to what is great literature or great scholarship?" How is the scholarship, service and teaching of faculty of color viewed by colleagues and senior department members? Do faculty include scholarship and works by people of color in their courses? Who determines what merits the appellation "great scholarship" in your department? Does the great scholarship include works by scholars of color? What can be done to address this issue?
3. Robin Kelley says, "A professor might say to them, Oh you should talk to Professor Kelly,' as if I am an expert on everything that has to do with black people period." What does it mean to be "the minority expert"? Why does this bother Dr. Kelly? How is this incident and Robin Kelly's workload reflective of cultural taxation? What can be done to mitigate this problem?
4. David Wilkins complains of ostracism and isolation on campus: "I never felt completely welcomed by the department at any particular point. In fact, I've been there for five years and I've only had dinner at two of the faculty's homes." Why is this significant? How important are informal networks and friendships among colleagues? Does this isolation of minority faculty occur in your department or are there professional and social networks among faculty which regularly and meaningfully cross racial and cultural groups? How might your department address Dr. Wilkins' concern?
5. What other assumptions about the department and discipline empower or marginalize faculty of color? What are the policies and practices regarding racial and sexual harassment? How often are scholars of color invited to present to or by the department? Are faculty encouraged to develop intellectual networks and research areas or partnerships which address race and culture?
6. David Wilkins states, "The contrast is that with the outsiders there's the notion that somehow because they're on the outside looking in they're more objective." Why are insider and outsider perspectives both important? How have you seen that expressed in your classes? What are the dominant and subordinate views in your courses? Whose views are considered objective and whose subjective? Why?
1. One of the students at the beginning of the film says, "You just can't have a good faculty unless it's diverse." Do you agree? Enumerate the educational benefits of a diverse faculty. Discuss not only intergroup relations but also institutional satisfaction, involvement, and academic growth. What are the costs of not having a diverse faculty? Do the advantages of a diverse faculty benefit all students, or only students of color?
2. How do racial diversity and racial justice embrace and affirm the educational mission of your institution as defined in your mission statement? Is diversity a publicly stated priority of your institution's leader? Does he or she walk the talk, i.e. what assessment measures are used and by whom? How are people and departments held accountable for diversity and rewarded for success?
3. Gloria Cuadraz recounts her experience in graduate school: "I did not feel like I belonged and I was struggling. I was struggling to connect. And for someone like myself who has felt connected their entire life to be asked to survive in an environment where you do not feel that you belong, it was too overbearing for me." What role did race and gender play in Dr. Cuadraz's experiences in graduate school? Have you ever felt this way? If yes, what did you do? To what extent do graduate students on your campus face similar problems? What can be done institutionally to reduce their disaffection?
4. Shawn Wong says, "I decided I would major in something called Asian American literature, except there were no teachers, no assignments, no credits, no classes." Why not? Can you identify significant omissions in your curriculum?
5. Darlene Clark Hine claims, "Historians can write about a history of anything but the key is the historian must decide that thing, event or person or group is worthy of historical investigation, and apparently no one had ever thought black women in Indiana were worth studying." Why was it important to write about black women in Indiana? What makes a subject historically significant and worthy of scholarly investigation? How do race and gender inform the research you conduct or the papers you write?
6. Dr. Hine goes on to add: "I think scholars of color have enriched about every discipline because of the new questions they have asked and the new approaches they have taken." Do you agree? Can you cite instances where faculty of color have enriched your departments and disciplines?
7. Robin Kells for assistance...The burden of being a black presence falls on a handful of people. At NYU I'm chairing the Latin American search committee. I'm on the American Studies search committee. I'm on the graduate admissions and fellowship committee. I'm on the third-year review committee. I'm on the graduate exam committee. I'm on the minority recruitment and retention committee." Gloria Cuadraz adds: "I have seen colleagues, Chicanas, Latinas, constantly working and so in demand by the needs of the institution that they are not able to submit their research in time to get tenure." Do minority faculty share a similar advising and service burden on your campus? Do they appear especially stressed and overworked? Are there any issues you believe are specific to women of color only? Does your hiring, promotion, and tenure criteria value service appropriately? What other steps can be taken to ease the workload and improve the quality of life of overstressed minority faculty?
8. Gloria Cuadraz states, "I have the tenure clock ticking the same time I have the biological clock ticking. I may be forced to choose and I think I know which one I'm going to choose: the tenure clock." What does her comment reveal about the experience of women in the academy compared with men? What would you do if this choice were put before you? Are women faculty at your institution forced to make a similar choice? Is it different for minority women? What can be done to eliminate this "choice" and improve options for women faculty?
9. Darlene Clark Hine declares, "My generation of black women academicians and women of color academicians is really a sacrificial generation." What does she mean? Do you agree? Why women of color? and to what extent does her statement pertain to men of color? What steps can be taken to better the situation on your campus?
"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread
within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do tou ourselves. All things
are bound together. All things connect.
Institutional Planning and Diversity
Higher Education and Race / Racism
Departmental / Faculty
Teaching, Learning and Curriculum
|back to top|