Racial Affinity Group Development Program

Cultivating an intentional shift from racial ignorance and animosity to racial literacy and harmony.

Have you experienced discomfort or frustration in your attempts to talk about race? You know what I mean: You show up with good intentions only to leave feeling bruised, burned, discouraged, and hopeless. Maybe you feel blindsided, betrayed, or cautious. Or you feel inadequate because you put your foot in your mouth with regularity. Or you feel outraged, hopeless, or shut down because you frequently receive an inadequate response. Much harm occurs from racial unawareness and reactivity, and many of us are searching for understanding, relief, and healing. Yet our efforts lack the impact our hearts and communities long for.

Frankly, it’s naive to think we can show up to a racially diverse group and “hash it out” without much heart burn. While we can't avoid engaging across the racial divide, we need more than hope, righteousness, or good intention. We need a parallel process to more deeply understand what we bring and breed in cross race dialogue. For this reason, I developed The Racial Affinity Group Development Program (RA-GDP). 

Quick Reference  Links: 

Unique to RA-GDP: 

RA-GDP offers a 12-month blueprint that supports two distinct areas of inquiry:

  1. Questions that guide us to thoughtfully investigate our racial conditioning and its impact with people of our same race, and;
  2. Because this inquiry is occurring within groups and over time, RA-GDP also offers reflections for navigating three predictable stages of group development: Inclusion, Control, and Belonging.

This powerful combination — racial inquiry and group development support — allows us to shift more intentionally and gracefully from racial unawareness, reactivity, and injury — to racial literacy, intimacy, and accountability.

What Happens Each Month:

Each month, RA Group members are given specific questions to contemplate and discuss. This inquiry does not center on addressing social issues or understanding other races. Rather, you are sharing how you have been conditioned as a racial being and as a racial group, and the impact this conditioning has on present-day racial views, beliefs, emotions, and actions.

Through monthly inquiry, you are bringing to light your buried uneasiness, your deceptive discomfort, and your unadmitted despair. You are leaning toward what is unfamiliar and inspecting more closely what is habitual and defended, as well as what is worthy of celebration. You are recognizing the stories you have been told and the stories you tell yourself. You are seeing more clearly your role in racial harming and healing.

Doing this work within community is both challenging and necessary. When sharing personal and racial experiences, you may feel exposed and unskilled as you reveal the anger, shame, and fear that often accommodate being open. These feelings can trigger the impulse to drop out, strike out, shut down, or remain superficial or guarded in group interactions. Because of this likely vulnerability, each month your group is given reflections for attending to stages of group life. Each stage, when embraced thoughtfully, cultivates the care group members need for truth telling, commitment, and transparency.

By owning your racial conditioning and attending to group growth, you are learning how to embody racial awareness, non-harming, and social responsibility. As these qualities ripen within, you become clearer about how you can lessen the weight of racial ignorance and injustice through your own example and actions. In fact, the curiosity, sensitivity, and respect you are refining within your RA Group over this 12-month period is what strengthens and purifies a dis-eased social heart.

In this work, we gradually discover - to our delight - that when we perceive "the other" the boundaries between us soften, our jaws loosen, our eyes open, our words lesson, and our minds widen. The heart grows strong and wise enough to meet the social ills of our time with clarity, stability, and care. Belonging is beyond a word.

Start Date & Year At A Glance:

The first RA-GDP Cohort starts September 5, 2020. Review RA-GDP, Cohort 1 - Year-At-Glance for the year-long schedule. Registration closes July 15, 2020.

Program Cost:

The RA-GDP cost $250 per person for the year, which includes 30 hours of RA Group instruction and Coordinator Coaching. This equates to roughly $8 per hour or $21 per month US. You will be required to register as a RA Group prior to paying individually. Note: For organizational fees, contact us directly.

Getting Started:

First things first! Consider yourself the Coordinator. This means you are taking the lead in forming or recommitting your RA Group. Once formed, group members will share ongoing responsibilities - more on this during the program launch.

Know this: Your group can meet in person and/or virtually - via zoom, skype, or other online modalities.

If you are forming a RA Group, you are asked to invite from 3-7 people of your same race to join you. Most groups have reported that to stay focused on race, it is helpful to invite people similar to your racial and gender identities. Invite people who you feel would be interested, not people you would need to convince of the importance of this work. Rather people who are curious and might appreciate a structured and introspective approach. Invitees are to commit for one year and to meet monthly for a minimum of 2.5 hours.

Possible Invitation Script for starting a RA Group:

I’m reading this book, Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out by Ruth King, and it’s opening my eyes to a few things I hadn’t considered before now (state one or two of those things). Ruth King offers a Racial Affinity Group Development Program that would guide us in examining our racial habits that support harm and harmony. This feels important (say why)! We would meet monthly for one year and follow recommended inquiry questions established by the author. Here’s a link to more details. I would love to take this journey with you! Will you join me?

If you have already formed a RA Group and seek a more introspective structure, you are asked to invite members to recommit. This may involve a conversation with group members about interest, and if appropriate, an exploration of whether group size and multi-gendered members are working for your group’s growth. While it is not a hard rule, many groups have shared that a minimum of 4 and maximum of 7 members support deeper inquiry, connection, and group cohesion.

Possible Recommitment Script Existing RA Groups:

We’ve been meeting for a while as a RA Group and I’d like to dive a bit deeper into our racial conditioning and its impact on harm and harmony. I’ve been reading Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out by Ruth King, and it’s opened my eyes to a few things we haven’t considered as a group (state one or two things). Ruth King offers a Racial Affinity Group Development year-long program. I think it would help us (…fill in details as to why). It would be great to take this journey together. Here’s a link to that program. Should we sign up?

It may take a few weeks and a few conversations before your group forms and solidly commits. Don’t be discouraged! Most people take their commitments seriously and therefore must be given the information and reasonable time to consent.

When those invited do commit, they are acknowledging the need to learn and heal with their own race; they are willing to explore the nuances of their racial conditioning and its impact, and; they realize that commitment is necessary in order to serve in ways that contribute to and sustain racial harmony.

Next Steps:

  1. You will need to be part of a RA Group before you can register for RA-GDP. Your RA Group should be no less than 4 and no more than 7 members. Note: We do not support you in finding members.
  2. Your RA Group must have a group coordinator and a group name to register.
  3. The program cost is $250 per person for the year. You will receive a payment link once your RA Group is registered by your Coordinator.
  4. During the September 5th kick-off, you will meet the larger Cohort of RA Groups. During this meeting, you will also receive instructions on RA Group ground rules, monthly meeting structure, scheduling, and monthly racial and group process inquiries. There will be ample time to engage with your own RA Group, learn from other RA Groups, and for Q&A.
  5. Cohort 1 will include up to 10 RA Groups - first come first serve. Registration closes July 15, 2020. 
  6. Meanwhile, begin inviting RA group members or recommitting members within your existing group. You can also schedule your monthly meetings in accordance with the Year-At-Glance schedule.
  7. It is recommended that you read a historical writing on your race/ethnicity; something that supports your understanding of your roots, lineage, birth origin, and the journey of your people.
  8. It has been helpful for RA Groups to read and discuss Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out prior to participating. Your RA Group might also enjoy playing with The Emotional Wisdom Card deck!

Questions? Contact Us!

Registration Form:

If you are ready to register your RA Group for the September Cohort, click here to complete the registration form. Registration closes July 15, 2020.

I look forward to seeing you in September! Ruth King

"Racism is a topic that makes most of us squirm for a reason — we need help. Some of us have the privilege of NOT thinking about it, while others don’t. Ruth is literally on a mission to get the blood pumping through the heart of humanity again — to help us to face off. Are you ready to show up differently, to be a part of the healing, to shift the paradigm, to uncover lineage and inherited beliefs? Of course you are!" ~ Kristen Noel, Best Self Magazine

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