Trainers and Diversity
The article below appeared in ‘The Voice’ Weekly Newspaper: Edition 26.01.12
How Important is a Trainer’s Understanding of Diversity, Racism and Prejudice to the Learning Experience?
The Co Directors and Students at LC&CTA share their experiences
Back Row Left to Right: Garfield Clayton and Paul Moody
Front Row Left to Right: Mo Lishomwa, Sukwinder Jandu and Lydia Hatton-Campbell
Chris Brown (Co-Director of LC&CTA) writes:
In the midst of my adolescence in the mid-1960s I fell intensely in love with a black teenage boy; I soon existentially learned about racism as bigotry was hurled at me from many white members of our society.
During the same decade my business partner, Juanita Harriot, was caught up in the agonising early ’Windrush’ experience of being the only Black child in the school playground; she too learned quickly, but more harshly, about racism in Britain.
Our young minds had needed liberation from such emotive pressures but we were ‘on our own’; in those days educationalists did not understand the psychological injury bigotry causes its victims and as a result our academic potentiality was disrupted.
However, even by the time I was in my late thirties and second career training to become a Psychotherapist and Teacher, as a white person I had still not recognised how my subconsciously inherited discriminations continued to effect my way of thinking and being in the world.
I am now on a journey that is taking me from ‘talking the talk of equality’ to ‘walking the walk of equality’; sometimes this intrapersonal work is painful. However, as LC&CTA Training Company Directors, Juanita and I have the joint responsibility to create a learning environment in which open, transcultural communication can ensue.
Such an environment acknowledges the differences and similarities between people and provides the equality of opportunity to own, explore and then potentially minimise the impact the roles of ‘oppressed’ and ‘oppressor’ society has imposed upon us as groups and individuals.
Sukwinder Jandu shares:
At the onset of my training I felt very uncomfortable with one of my white trainers. I felt she was both racist and had issues with my hearing difficulties but there was also something about her that invited discussion. She really accepted how I felt and it made a huge difference, I realised I was carrying experiences from the past with me that I was then able to let go of. This has resulted in deep personal, academic and professional growth for me.
Garfield Clayton adds:
I have been given the new classroom experience of being able to freely talk about my experiences of being a Black man and what being a Born Again Christian means to me without fear or favour; it’s helped me develop greater confidence in my self and the value of my own opinion.
Paul Moody, a returned learner says:
I am a Qualified Counsellor/Psychotherapist working in a West London Further Education College, but I have retuned to study at LC&CTA to gain qualification as a Clinical Spervisor because I know both my personal and ontological diversity is understood and accepted here; this unique and influential learning support has proved to be a life changing experience for me.
Belinda Smith (not pictured) discloses:
It was during my studies at LC&CTA that for the first time I heard a white woman share she felt being white had given her huge advantages in life. The honest and open discussion on race that followed , whilst painful, had significant affect on me. I gained a reconfirmed sense of my ability not to let racism hold me back and I passed my first year of training with a Distinction Grade.
Mo Lishomwa believes:
I see the honouring of diversity and equality in practice at LC&CTA; it’s reflected in the tutor team and in my classroom peers. This has enabled me to relax and be myself. I feel equal to everyone else. I have no fear that racism will get in the way of my progress and because of this I have been empowered to study more effectively than ever before.
Lydia Hatton Campbell expresses a similar opinion:
The cultural and racial diversity I experience in the classroom has enabled me to feel I don’t need to hide who I am or what I have to say. This multi-cultural environment provides me with the chance to learn from other cultural experiences. My understanding of others is being widened all the time and I feel both personally and culturally understood which helps me to learn all the more.
Chris Brown concludes:
Taking into consideration all that has been expressed above, it appears that a trainer’s profound and demonstrated understanding of diversity, racism and prejudice is paramount to a positive and successful learning experience.
Tony Taylor, a Senior LC&CTA Tutor expresses his major professional interests that are rooted in understanding the dynamics of oppression and minimising the impact of oppression on men:
Tony Taylor (right) with Mo Lishomwa (Class of 2011/12 HPD in Counselling Student)
“I have a profound interest in the way in which oppression impacts on both individuals and groups within our society and how oppression damages both the ‘oppressor’ and the ‘oppressed’; it’s a lose/lose situation.
I am also an advocate of the need for men to become more expressive of their vulnerabilities; our true male strength lies in our ability to communicate our fears and doubts, not hide behind a false ‘manly’ bravado. In general I believe men need to participate more in intra and interpersonal exploration and honest self-disclosure.
In my work at LC&CTA I am ‘free’ to engage in facilitating and encouraging our students (females as well as males) to explore how oppression has affected their lives, and how concealing their vulnerabilities is more likely to lead to disempowerment than lead to vigour and might”.