CURB Members Attend Social Justice Course

September 15, 2011

Five members of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB): Haile Maryam, Cindy Steede-Williams, Frances Eddy, Lynne Winfield, and Sara Clifford recently returned from a 40-hour social justice mediation course held at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) at Amherst, with participants attending from as far afield as Nigeria.

A statement issued by CURB said, “The training is designed to explore how identity and power imbalances affect the development and resolution of conflict using a social justice lens.”

SJMI Aug 2011

“The Social Justice Mediation Model was developed in response to the pattern that has emerged in the field of mediation, which reveals that mainstream mediation is not equally serving all segments of the population. Despite the demonstrated success of mediation, recent research shows that it also routinely reproduces privilege both structurally within the institution and interpersonally between disputing parties. ”

“Social Justice Mediation undertakes a critical examination of how and why this occurs in the mainstream approach to mediation and investigates new strategies that account for privilege and works to remove it.”

“The workshop was under the auspices of the UMass Social Justice Mediation Institute and led by Leah Wing and Deepika Marya. Leah Wing is a twenty-year veteran of conflict resolution and has mediated numerous conflicts between opposing groups internationally. Ms. Marya is a professor of Post-colonial English Literature at UMass. All five CURB members received certificates and are qualified as mediators as defined in the U.S.A. and many other countries.”

“The training was highly interactive using a variety of teaching strategies grounded in the fields of Postcolonial Studies, Critical Race Studies, Social Identity Development, Multicultural Education, Social Contact Theory and Conflict Resolution. Its unique approach is not offered by any other training institute or trainers and has been utilized by over 100 campuses and organizations across the country. So far, over 2000 people have been trained in this model. It has been praised for preparing mediators to effectively respond to the realities of multicultural conflicts in organizations and communities.”

“CURB members who received this training will use their new mediation skills at events offered by CURB and in the community at large to mediate group and interpersonal conflicts. If you or your organization are interested in talking with a CURB Social Justice Mediator, please call the CURB office at 542-CURB (2872).”

Comments by CURB attendees:

Cindy Steede-Williams (CURB Administrator)
“I believe this mediation model has the potential to bring about the most equitable outcomes for all parties concerned in varying disputes. By conducting separate interviews for disputants, both parties get an equal opportunity and the time to tell their whole story with privacy and dignity. The facilitators imparted excellent diplomatic and negotiation skills with the use of real-life scenarios, tact and simplicity. One of the best courses I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in!”

Lynne Winfield (Past President & Secretary)
“The need for the latest methods in mediating dialogue was seen as a critical need for CURB facilitators. CURB’s outreach work in the community is growing exponentially with workshops/presentations/forums and lectures being offered to the public, as well as specific-interest groups such as teachers, charitable organizations, human resource professionals and businesses. It was an extraordinary experience, a tremendous learning opportunity, and the cutting-edge mediation methods taught in this intensive 5-day course provided attendees with a skill set that will enable them to mediate dialogues in a way that will allow all parties to be heard and validated as they tell their truths.”

Frances Eddy (CURB Education Working Group member)
“The course was intense and made more so by a day lost to hurricane Irene. Five days compressed into four days packed with boundary breaking perspectives on social justice mediation and full emersion practice made for an impacting training experience. What matters, of course, is what we do with it.”

Sara Clifford (CURB Research Working Group member)
“It was a powerful exercise in challenging our own deference to the ‘master narrative’ or status quo – often we engage in practices and procedures that are long established, but have not evolved or been appropriately examined to see if they are truly relevant or useful to all those they seek to serve.”

Haile Maryam (CURB Education Working Group Chair)
“It was an awesome course. The instructors were excellent and the interaction between the participants was an amazing experience, opening up new vistas of experiences. The usefulness of this course within society on a world scope would be extremely rewarding.”

Comments by SJM Instructors
“It was a joy to work closely with these five members of CURB. Their expertise, commitment, and enthusiasm were inspirational and they contributed to the depth and engagement during the training to the enhancement of all of our learning. We wish them the very best with the important work they have undertaken.”

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Comments (3)

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  1. FrankTalk says:

    Why are delegates from Bermuda and Nigeria STILL attending courses to learn about “white on black” racisim?

    Last time I checked both of those countries where majority black…or were they learning about how to overcome the victim mentality so that they can move forward…

    • Lynne Winfield says:

      The course was about social justice mediation, which included as one area of discussion how to mediate conflicts arising from disputes around race. No where in the article does it mention “white on black” racism.

      In answer to your second sentence… yes the majority of the population in Bermuda is Black but Census and CURE statistics show all too clearly the inequality between the races, much of which is due to the legacies of hundreds of years of disenfranchisement. It just goes to show that EVEN in a majority Black environment, structural racism is so well imbedded in our society that DESPITE a majority Black population we are still struggling with the economic disparity.

      • possibly says:

        Maybe , one day . you can explain how we have so many successful blacks here in Bermuda .. Surely more black millionaires than any other place on earth.

        Are they a different sort of black than the ones suffering from this ‘huge economic disparity’ ?

        And how come I’m white and don’t own any property , not even a car and haven’t been on an off island vacation for many many years. Yet all of my black friends do / have and travel multiple times a year for fun ?

        How does this so called economic disparity come to exist when government collects all this data from companies and knows what they pay and to who ?
        Gov’t would know which companies are treating employees with the exact same qualifications differently , wouldn’t they ?
        If it was between different companies as opposed to internalized within one company , wouldn’t government straighten out the offending company ?

        Like a lot of other things in life , there’s a whole lot more going on here than meets the eye !