Author Archives: ldir.unit

Wellness in Our Work

It can be difficult to take care of ourselves while we work towards change, but it is vital. Wellness needs to be reclaimed and as people working to create change we need to understand that our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being is intrinsically connected to the sustainability of our communities and movements. We must hold spaces for healing, building accountable and authentic relationships, addressing conflict , and transforming the ways we work together. We must integrate collective models of wellness into our work cultures so that we can maintain wellness both within and outside our change work.

It is with this in mind that we offer this Wellness Resource Guide as a tool to help mainstream wellness into our movements and our lives.

In addition – take a look at this publicly crowdsourced google doc on various forms of self care practices – from popping bubble wrap to reading resources on dealing with power.

Please support continuing this work with a $10 suggested donation.

Critical Leadership

Ensuring that diversity, equity, acceptance, and fairness fosters stronger culture and communities which in turn increase effectiveness within your organization and your leadership. So what does it take to be an inclusive leader? Our resources center should be used in  dialogue to build communication skills, analyze leadership in the context of broader systems of power, and  improve intergroup relations. Take a look at some of our resources below to get started.

Characteristics of a Social Change Leader

To Equalize Power Among Us


As tensions arise around intergroup differences – how to do you take the initiative to shift an interaction from discord to understanding? Our resources  help participants effectively communicate to understand and collaborate, to become stronger facilitators, and to help communicate through difficulties that arise  around race, sexual orientation, gender identity, alongside other identities. Take a look at some of our resources here to develop your skills.

Facilitating Intergroup Dialogue


bell hooks
“Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world. To form beloved community we do not surrender ties to precious origins. We deepen those bondings by connecting them with an anti-racist struggle … ” – bell hooks, in Killing Rage: Ending Racism

Jane Elliott on Racism

By Jenny Chhea, LDIR Intern
Watching Oprah Winfrey’s show from 1992 that had a segment of Jane Elliot talking about race in America made me look at race at a whole new perspective again.
In this video, Jane Elliott – a white women – claims that she herself is racist because she was born and raised in a racial society. Explaining her experiment as a teacher to her students, she explains how in her blue-eye/brown-eye experiment to teach diversity training, brown eyed people are separated from blue eyed people and are treated as people of color. But treated in this perspective – unable to speak to the blue-eyed folks, unable to question any authority, and not allowed to play on the playground  – her students become angry, feeling shocked and oppressed by the experiment.
Jane Elliott further goes on to reveal to the audience other forms of how racism is institutionalized in our society. It is institutionalized in our education. “Brown eyed” people contribute to our society, but only in the education system are we taught about white contributions. Racism exists in the form of cartography – where in social science maps, the United States is in the center and Greenland is shown as a large island even bigger than South America. Band-Aid colors are based on the color of white flesh – not people of color. Peach color pantyhoes are sold as “nude” to represent the nude color of whites, not people of color. When in elementary school we try to color our skin in our drawings – we use a peach color to color our faces – not yellow, brown, or black.
By the fact that this is from 1992 shows that our struggles are still continuing. It is now 2013 and today we still face these problems of racism – even when people claim that our society is post racial. Even though we are in the post civil rights movement and no explicit segregation exists today, people of color still face different forms of oppression. Institutionally, our education and history textbooks still fail to talk about the contributions of people of color and mention their history in the United States. Systematically, our justice system fails to address the fact that people of color are the most criminalized – and police brutality is sometimes targeted at people of color. Interpersonally, people still make racist comments towards each other. But not just about race; micro aggressions even exist in gender and sexuality. With the age of technology and internet, oppression takes on a new outlet through cyberspace – allowing not only discriminatory opinions to be shared online but providing a question as to who has access to this medium. These forms of oppression show the immensity that institutionalized and interpersonal racism still exists in our society and how we as people of color, or allies of color, need self-advocacy to fight for justice.
Today, we need to become social change leaders and proactive allies. Becoming a social change leader means being committed to social justice and equality and believing in the empowerment of underprivileged communities. It means being critically conscious of the power dynamics of our society and the different levels of oppression – but also using this understanding to create dialogue among others. It means bridging the gap between different race, gender, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation to create interpersonal and intergroup relationships to fight for common social justice. Being a proactive ally means also understanding this power dynamic and using whatever privilege possessed to help fight for that common social justice. Today, we need these types of leaders who understand the continued oppression and who understand the need to create intergroup alliances to fight for change. Leadership Development for Interethnic Relations, created after the 1992 Los Angeles riots that rather pit different racial groups against each other, actually facilitates these types of workshops in its trainings. LDIR develops these leaders that we need in society today.
Like what Jane Elliott said – “we don’t need love. We need justice.” it’s not just love that we need for each other – we need a love for justice.



Here is the video:

Restorative justice at the CAHRO Conference

By Karen Driscoll, LDIR intern

On April 2, 2013, the California Association of Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO) held a daylong conference, “Overcoming Violence & Injustice: The Humans Relations Approach.” The conference featured a panel discussion on how Restorative Justice is helping to transform and heal communities. Rooted in an indigenous practice, Restorative Justice (RJ) aims to proactively address conflict and build community simultaneously. Through the use of “in-circle”, participants (made up of community members, the perpetrator, and victim) are able to discuss the harm that has taken place and decide how to best resolve this harm. As panelists discussed, this practice is successfully being used in schools and juvenile justices systems as an alternative to suspensions and incarceration.

What struck me as most profound about Restorative Justice is that first, perpetrators must be willing to accept responsibility for the harm committed and second, victims get the opportunity to resolve unanswered questions. By allowing both parties to lend their voices and perspectives, a deeper human bond is formed and relationships are transformed. And as this takes place, other members of the community are helping to support the process by providing insights that the victim and perpetrators might not otherwise be able to hear and receive. Here’s an example: Two students are in a conflict with each other, their peers note it and call for a circle. The circle could include the students in conflict, the parents of the students in conflict, peer support for each of the students in conflict. As the harms are being named and discussed, parents can offer support to each other and problem solve together, while the students are given space to be heard and recognize the fuller ramifications of their actions on the community as a whole. The students are provided an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions in a way that does not create further harm, i.e. suspension, missed education, etc.

With such meaningful outcomes, Restorative Justice is a dynamic practice to bring into community work and allows communities to not only address but heal from the trauma associated with issues of race, justice, and equality.

Here’s the panel description, including a list of speakers:

“Restorative Justice: A healing alternative for systems, schools and communities.” Panelists Alicia Virani, equal justice fellow and restorative justice specialist with The California Conference for Equality and Justice; Denise Curtis, program manager for restorative community conferencing for Community Works West; and Edgar Dormitorio, assistant dean of students at UC Irvine will discuss the implementation of restorative justice practices and principles in secondary schools, the community and as an alternative to the juvenile justice system