Leaders desiring to be an example of racial understanding and influence face distinct challenges in their role. Racial concerns are incessant, complex, and activating. We often find ourselves in destabilizing terrain, challenged with galvanizing individuals who vary in racial understanding, sensitivities, intentions, and abilities. The skill and emotional labor of our work is often invisible, undervalued, and unappreciated. We often feel a chronic fatigue from the repetitive motion of pointing things out. Our hearts are often twisted and bruised from inadequate responses and what feels like prolonged resistance to change. On top of this, we often feel triggered, incompetent or lack confidence to fully meet the challenge at hand. And this is often a secret.
Fundamental to being an effective leader is intimately knowing ourselves, knowing our impact on racial progress, and strengthening our capacity to influence racial awareness and collective well-being with grace, clarity, and stability. And while many of us have had invaluable training in our respective fields and professions, we long to pause, breathe, and remember. To be seen and affirmed in our rawness and realness. To admit to our need for distinction and support. To feel connected to and learn from wise peers. To share and celebrate our stories of courage, creativity, and resilience. And to be more confident and skillful in our shared aspirations for racial harmony.
This is the work of Brave Space, our Racial Affinity Leadership Development Program.
Why Affinity Groups?
Let's face it, it’s not enough to think we can simply get a racially diverse group of smart people in a room and “hash out” the issues. Many of us have been there and done that to no avail. We show up with good intentions but leave puzzled, bruised, and frustrated. Unfortunately, this is painfully common.
Given the unintended harm caused by unawareness and emotional activation when we gather across races, we need a way to dive deep into an understanding of the ignorance and innocence of our racial habits, character, and impact on other races. We need an intentional structure that leverages our likeness into an appreciation of our diversity.
For these reasons and more, I created Brave Space, a 12-month intentional space for racial affinity groups to understand their racial conditioning and its impact on our social harmony.
In Brave Space, affinity groups become our learning laboratory. Within a span of 12 months, you come to know yourself more deeply in a rich relational field of engagement. Because you commit, you learn to relax and open. You learn from members of your own race, and you are guided in recognizing three stages of group development within your affinity group that mirror life experiences.
There can be no sustaining shift toward racial equity and belonging without self-awareness and the relational rigor that ripens over time. Within the Brave Space affinity group structure, racial knowledge is digested, understanding composted, awareness is intimate, insights embodied, belonging experienced, and practice ripens skill.
The leadership competencies developed within affinity groups support us in understanding and engaging the contextual complexities of race and racism with greater inner stability, confidence, and grace.
We all have ways of protecting ourselves from racial harm. We may strike out, walk out, or numb out, depending on the situation. Yet underneath all our actions is a shared and deep desire to face racial challenges with wise presence, tenderness, and care.
Mindfulness practices invite us into an investigation of the structures of oppression engraved in our mind that are then reflected in the world. It supports us in becoming more aware and in experiencing mental ease, insight, and harmony. It does not help us get rid of racial ignorance or ill will, nor will it erase anger or despair. Rather, it offers an attentive way for us to slow down and experience our lives, and to examine our relationship to our racial history, beliefs, and impulses. In essence, it helps us experience more intimacy with life.
When we are being mindful, we can more readily acknowledge where we get stuck and discover what supports letting go. Instead of projecting or disowning discomfort, we can learn how to prolong and savor feelings of relief and openness.
When you practice the monthly instructions and meditations offered in Brave Space, you cultivate an inner atmosphere of warmth, openness, receptivity, and curiosity. These mind states are not dependent on external circumstances being to your liking. Instead, these mental states are naturally revealed when you are not at war with your thoughts and emotions and can nurture what is activated, even wounded, with care.
Mindfulness principles and meditation practices are leadership competencies and medicinal for racial and social harmony. These practices are at the heart of the Brave Space Racial Affinity Leadership Development Program.
Brave Space Will Help You:
Learning within racial affinity opens a pathway to deeper presence, clarity, compassion, and connection to humanity. These are crucial leadership competencies.
This Course Includes:
Through the genius of the Brave Space design, you have time to unpack your racial conditioning within peer affinity. No one is made to feel right or wrong, rushed or judged. Instead, space is structured into the design, ensuring that you are seen, respected, mirrored, and affirmed.
The experience that grows over time allows all members to both learn and embody learning. This is a crucial foundation for racial awareness, empathy, connection, and leadership.
Are You Ready? Start Here:
Save These "Must Attend" Dates:
August 24-25, 2024: Orientation September 7, 2024: Brave Space Launch
Application Period starts March 1.
Applicant Confirmations: July 1.
Program Prep Period: July 1-August 24
How you show up in Brave Space is How you show up in Leadership! Join Us and Learn how to Embody diversity!
The group development focus in Brave Space supports an embodied learning experience. Through structured and supportive monthly guidance and attention to group growth within your racial affinity group, you discover how you show up and impact groups in your broader fields of influence.
Within a span of 12 months, you have time to relax, open, and discover - from the inside out - that you can stay engaged with the truth of race and racism with more inner stability, confidence, and grace.
In Brave space, belonging becomes more intimate, and this ripening has a profound impact on your capacity to influence social harmony and well-being.
When you engage this tender territory with members of your own race, you are using your relationships to each other to better understand yourself as a racialized being and your collective impact.
To separate into same-race groups, in this sense, is not intended to divide us but rather to leverage the fact that within most contexts and often within our hearts, we are already racially divided. In Brave Space, we use separation to more deeply understand this chronic conditioning that feeds separation and harm.
Enrollment Period Begins March 1.
Two Ways To Enroll:
Enroll As An Individual
You work in an organization as a leader, or you head up a diversity, equity, and inclusion/belonging initiative. Or you are a health or wellness provider, an educator, coach, consultant, counselor, an activist or artist, therapist, meditation teacher, or yoga instructor. As an influencer, you seek a way to deepen your understanding of yourself as a racially aware leader. Individuals who apply will be assigned to an affinity group upon application approval.
Enroll As An Affinity Group
You may be an affinity group inside of an organization or a book club. A spiritual circle, a family, a church group, synagogue, temple, or sangha. Or you are part of a group going through a professional certification program and need a deeper dive into your racial awareness and impact to be effective. If enrolling as a group, each individual must submit a separate application. On your application, you will be asked to name group members also applying. Once approved, you will be assigned with your affinity group.
A Potent Drop of Awareness
Brave Space is not a complete response to racial injury and injustice. Rather, we are deconstructing how we have been programmed to think and respond to race and racism, and recognizing whether our habits are harming or healing. It offers an intentional, structured, and graceful way over time to examine our racial conditioning within affinity community.
The curiosity, sensitivity, and respect you will refine within your racial affinity group over this 12-month period is what strengthens your faith in humanity and purifies a dis-eased social heart. You will be able to stand tall in your understanding of your own race and be able to recognize and respond to social distress with fierce clarity.
"Now is the time... just do it!"
Brave Space by Beth Strano
There's no such thing as a safe space.
We exist in the real world and we all carry scars and have caused wounds.
This space seeks to turn down the volume of the world outside and amplify the voices that have to fight to be heard elsewhere.
This space will not be perfect. It will not always be what we wish it to be.
But it will be ours together and we will work on it side by side.