The name “Damascus Road” refers to the biblical story of Saul, who experienced a process of transformation on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31). While Damascus Road (DR) provides space for individual transformation, the entire program is designed to work toward long-term transformation of institutions through the work of teams. The Damacus Road Antiracism Process was initially developed using a Christian framework reflective of Roots of Justice's origins as part of the Mennonite Central Committee. However, we have developed the training to appeal to both religious and secular audiences. The DR Process is offered in a faith based format suitable for those desiring a Judeo-Christian lens and a non-faith based format.
Though much of the DR Process’s attention is given to workshops and training events, we are careful to place this educational work in service to larger organizing goals of dismantling institutional racism. The entire process is designed especially for antiracism teams – groups that have formed to dismantle racism within their institution or community – though individuals may also attend some of the events. The workshops involved in the process are summarized below, after a video introduction. Participants and trainers also offer thesevideo reflectionson their experience with Damascus Road.
Antiracism Analysis Training This workshop, foundational for Damascus Road and other Roots of Justice programs, is accessible to both teams and individuals. The goal of this 2 1/2 day training is to:
deepen the theological and philosophical foundations for antiracism work
be exposed to an analysis of racism and build a common understanding of racism
work together as a team to develop team relationships
Caucusing Retreats After attending an Analysis Training, teams (and individuals) are encouraged to attend the Set Free and Fire & Clay caucusing retreats to deepen their analysis and engagement of their racial identities. In doing this work before focusing on organizing tasks can help strengthen teams and prepare them for the difficulties of organizing.
Antiracism Organizing Training The goal of this 2 1/2 day training is to help teams:
continue to deepen their shared analysis of racism
learn basic concepts and skills for organizing within their team’s context (institution, community, etc.)
develop a vision, goals and strategies for their organizing work
Antiracism Educating/Organizing Training This 2 1/2 day training for teams can vary greatly from context to context and might include topics such as:
concepts and skills for effective antiracist education
developing a one-day workshop
working with a multiracial facilitation team
helpful ways to communicate an understanding of antiracism with others in formal and informal situations (board meetings, constituent interventions)
practice and role play
Set Free is a journey toward wholeness for People of Color, working together to liberate ourselves from Internalized Racist Oppression. "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." John 8:32
If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one. — Carter G Woodson
What is Internalized Racist Oppression? Internalized Racist Oppression is a deeply held belief in the myth of racial inferiority. This belief is encouraged and grown through socialization of People of Color in the context of racist individuals, institutions, and systems.
How are we Set Free? By tracing our history we can see how Internalized Racist Oppression was spread and absorbed over time. By looking into our present condition we can see how our life has been shaped by racist oppression, internal and external. Through these understandings we are Set Free to follow a new way toward healing and wholeness.
The Set Free Process Our facilitation team will create a safe setting to allow participants to process feelings about IRO and to embrace a new vision beyond the distortions of racism. Participants will learn skills essential to addressing IRO within themselves and community through highly interactive exercises, film, drama, discussion groups, and will have ample time to share from their own experiences and reflect on what they are learning from the process and each other. Participants will take home a collection of materials that will help to equip them for the continued journey. Quotes from previous participants
“I learned that I need to know WHO I am, and know about my family and African American history.”
“We must help each other to take off the things that bound us.”
“You can be liberated.”
“I will take from the experience the need to reclaim who I really am not who someone wants me to be.”
“I have a better understanding about internalized racist oppression and the history of the role of the church in racism and internalized racist oppression.”
A retreat for antiracist white people on internalized racist superiority These retreats are designed for white antiracists who have attended the Damascus Road Antiracism Analysis Training. Participants seek a deeper understanding of our role as white people within racist institutions in a racist society. Together, we grapple with issues specific to white antiracists including:
internalized racist superiority
accountability to people of color
the purpose and process of white caucus groups, both within antiracism teams and as separate entities, including the formation, functioning and accountability of white caucuses
other topics depending on the needs and concerns of participants. Several hours of the retreat are designed around Open Space Forums, which allow participants to bring topics that interest them and join with others who share those interests in small group discussions.
Recognizing that racism is a controversial and painful issue, Fire & Clay has been designed to include a delicate balance of challenge and nurture, group time and individual reflection.
Participants Fire & Clay retreats are open to white individuals who have attended a Damascus Road Antiracism Analysis Training. Participants do not need to be part of an institutional antiracism team, though team members are especially encouraged to attend. Space is limited for each retreat in order to provide a more intimate setting for our work together.
Facilitators Each retreat is facilitated by one or two experienced antiracism trainers. Facilitators bring years of experience in antiracism educating and organizing as well as expertise in institutional transformation. Each feels a deep commitment to working with other white people to understand our roles in perpetuating and dismantling racism.
Location Generally, Fire & Clay retreats are held at a retreat center where participants can join together for meals, evening discussions, and early morning walks throughout the weekend.
Sponsoring a Workshop Roots of Justice depends on local organizers to help us make events happen. If you would like to bring a workshop to your community or organization, please contact us about sponsoring a workshop. It is best to voice your interest at least a year in advance in order to get on the calendar.
Why Sponsor a Training? There are several reasons you might consider sponsoring a training:
You know that there are individuals interested in attending a training, but there are no trainings scheduled in your area.
Your organization has a sizeable number of people (10 or more) who want to attend a training, so that sponsoring a training locally is more cost effective than paying registration fees, travel and lodging for each individual to attend a training some distance away.
Your organization has a large number of people (more than 20) who want to attend a training, and it would be more effective to have the training within the specific context of your organization — in other words, an “in house” training just for people connected to your organization (staff, board members, constituents, community stakeholders).
Important Prior Considerations Even if there are some good reasons for you to sponsor a workshop, there are a few things that need to be in place. First and foremost, People of Color must be supportive and all efforts to sponsor a workshop must be accountable to them. It is so easy for white people to hold workshops that are beneficial at one level but fail to make a long term impact. The direction of People of Color is vital in making sure that it is the right time and place and people to sponsor this kind of event.
Second, there should be sufficient groundwork laid for the event with a plan for further antiracism work. Typically, workshops are sponsored by existing antiracism teams. At the very least, a few people from the sponsoring group should have prior experience with Damascus Road or other Roots of Justice training. The event should be one part of a larger plan for long-term antiracism organizing. Another part of the plan should be follow-up with participants after the training. While Damascus Road tries to maintain contact with all participants, local sponsors are in the best position to follow up with personal contact, regular group meetings, one-to-one pairings, social events or other ideas. Participants need a community where they can regularly put into practice what they have learned.
Finally, there needs to be support. You should have a sense that people in your community or organization will want to participate. You will need several people who can share the duties of logistical coordination. And, you will need some financial backing.
Details In addition to the training fee listed below, sponsors are responsible for all logistics and costs associated with the event, including but not limited to publicity, meeting space, catering, and trainer travel and lodging. Sponsors are free to charge individuals a participant fee to help cover some or all costs, but are encouraged to provide some scholarships as well. A well-attended, carefully planned event can have a balanced budget (reducing or eliminating the need to use your organization’s funds). Co-sponsoring a training with another organization is a good way to spread out the financial and logistical responsibilities, as well as broaden publicity channels. Information packets are available with more information. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in sponsoring a training.