Thank you for your commitment to challenging explicit and implicit biases in your professional role and day-to-day life! It can be difficult to know what to say when a family member, friend, colleague, or acquaintance makes problematic comments. However, we will only be able to dismantle racism in its overt forms if we are brave enough to challenge racism in even its most common forms. The Kirwan Institute invites you to utilize the strategies and resources on this page to empower yourself to speak out in response to biased comments.

In the words of Audre Lorde, “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

Active Bystander Training

Have you ever been in a conversation when someone said something biased that made you uncomfortable, but you were not sure how to respond?  Most of us struggle to address these all too common situations, whether in the classroom, the workplace, while spending time with friends, or in the company of family.  Even though we want to do what is right and speak up for equality, we do not always know how to take action in that awkward moment—especially if we are not sure whether the person making the comment actually meant to cause harm.

As individuals dedicated to dismantling systemic oppression, we must be empowered to take action in these moments when bias manifests so that we can create a welcoming, inclusive, and affirming environment for all people.  This training seeks to empower and equip participants to speak out in response to those all too common, “Did they really just say that?!” moments when bias emerges.  This training illustrates the importance of committing to being an active bystander in moments when bias emerges through microaggressions, as well as provides actionable skills to do so.  These skills are tailored to create educational conversations in response to biased comments/actions, rather than eliciting a defensive reaction from the person who has (perhaps unintentionally) caused harm.

Participants in this training will thus learn how to communicate effectively in challenging situations through the employment of strategies that can be tailored to the particular situation at hand.