Owning the table – need for new concepts and metaphors

I’ve been fortunate to facilitate and participate in diversity workshops and anti-racism training in which people have been brutally honest. There have been tears, strong words have been exchanged and people have asked for forgiveness and help to overcome their racism.  This kind of openness does not happen easily at these kind of workshops and gathering. Many lack the language and nerve to do the hard work it take to uproot racism. We rather deal with placebos and easy tasks that only mask the real problem. In spite of our self-congratulatory assumption that we are beyond issues of race, the scars and the evil of racism still run deep through the veins of the Americas.

One easy common sugar-coated pill I constantly hear comes in the form of a seemingly inclusive metaphor: the “invitation to the table.”

“People of color are invited to the table.”

“If we want diversity, we need to invite some Latinos the table.”

“We’ve invited some African American to our table, but they don’t be part of it.”

“We want more women at our table.”

As open and inclusive this metaphor might sound, all it does is reiterate who is the owner of the table and who still have the power to decide whom to invite and dismiss.  While we all might know what a table is, the concept on many of these conversations is based on the rectangular-power table, in which the head of the table is the one who control the conversation and set the tone and agenda for the gathering.

We need new metaphors that would convey a non-threatening, non-oppressive language for healing and transformative conversations and relationships. Some new concepts might be the one of coming around the fire for story sharing,  the Pow-wow, Hawaiian Luau, the potluck…

We are in dire need of new alternative concepts in which everyone come to a place of respect.

What other concepts or metaphor would you suggest?

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