Focus on Race

IFT continues our focus on race. We are working on understanding how we are (or are not if that is the case) privileging and foregrounding race in our learning and practice contexts. We have a responsibility to foreground race in every setting, as an organising principle, and need to continue to work towards being an anti-racist organisation, and recognising that this requires our continued commitment, not ‘one off’ conversations. We recognise this work is imperfect, constantly evolving, and never finished.

Feedback from an MSc student:
I’m writing to say thank you. Your and IFT’s position on putting race in the foreground is helping me so much. I am incredibly grateful for this experience.  Thank you again, it means so much to me to be a part of these conversations, I don’t know where/how else I’d be able to challenge myself in quite this way.

Having invited whole organisation meetings last year, had follow up conversations with the outgoing MSc cohort, the MSc current cohort, and with supervisors and tutors in different contexts, we recognise there is much good work happening and much to do. We have invited staff and students to a ‘whole’ conversation on Thursday 11th March at 5.30.

Some people have been using a resource that has been useful in participating in these conversation is the ‘Validate, Challenge and Request Approach’ (Hardy, 2017). This strengths-based tool, intended for difficult conversations, is guided by principles of both/and thinking, validation as a key precedent to any challenge, and is designed to expand rather than reduce possibilities in the conversation.

“V” represents Validation, which refers to any communication (both verbal and nonverbal) designed to affirm. The validation step consists of the speaker sending a clear, strong message that conveys some understanding of the listener’s point of view.

“C” represents Challenge, which refers to any communication designed to question or confront. By validating, the listener builds a developing trust that makes it possible to follow with a challenging message. To be effective, it is crucial that the challenge follows the validation and that it does not assault the humanity or dignity of the listener. In fact, the most effective challenges weave in and build upon the earlier messages of validation.

“R” represents Request, which refers to an expressed desire for reconsideration of a position, and ultimately a specific recommendation or suggestion for change. After validating and challenging the listener, the final step is to make a request. Here is where the greatest corrective opportunity exists. The speaker makes a positive, concrete suggestion for how the listener can translate the stated concern into direct action for change.

Avoid asking questions, use AND instead of BUT

Hardy has also informed our approach to thinking about power – separating the intention behind a statement from the consequence.

•The PAST Model is a power/privilege-sensitive framework designed to defuse contentious conversations and to facilitate constructive engagement across the divides of race and other dimensions of diversity.

•The model is predicated on the notion that power and privilege are two salient factors underpinning the creation, maintenance, and resolution of racially based conversations. These interlocking and overlapping principles undergird the PAST Model and serve as the basis for how it is constructed and implemented.

Hardy describes the task of the privileged as

1. to differentiate between intentions and consequences and always start with an acknowledgment of the latter.

2. Avoid the overt and covert negation of subjugated conversations and disclosures.

3. Avoid reactive reflexes: Acts of relational retrenchment, rebuttal, and retribution conversations about race – this can be a huge challenge for white fragility

4. Avoid the issuance of prescriptions.

5. Avoid speaking from the KNOE (Knowledgeable, Neutral, Objective, Expert) Position


Hardy, K. V. and Bobes, T. (2017) Promoting cultural sensitivity in supervision. London: Routledge.

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