Group focuses on attentive listening, discrimination

“Hello and welcome to Get Real About Discrimination, where we are ending ignorance through conscious listening and healing the effects of discrimination through authentic, public self-expression,” GRAD President Kay Johnson said.

After welcoming everyone, Johnson explained how the meeting worked.

“There are six phases that we go through in order to allow everyone to speak their piece,” Johnson said. “We don’t want anyone to leave feeling like they didn’t get a
chance to say what they needed to say.”

Once the process was  explained, the sharing phase began. One by one, attendees introduced themselves and shared their stories. They then thanked the group for listening.

“The purpose of the group is to allow people to speak without reservation,” GRAD Vice President Chris Kase said.

“While someone is speaking, no one is allowed to reply, offer any advice, show sympathy or express happiness. We live in a world where what we say is oftentimes influenced by the reaction of others, which is another thing we are trying to combat here.”

Once individuals in the session had shared their personal stories of discrimination, no one in the group was allowed to discuss it afterward unless the person chose to bring it up with an individual. What was said while attending the session stayed at the session.

“When I first created this group in 2008, a lot of people thought that I had created it to end discrimination, which is not true,” Johnson said. “It is impossible to end discrimination without also ending diversity.

“No, the reason why this group exists is to help people overcome discrimination and mistreatment by talking. Nobody has ever solved a problem by ignoring it.”

No one in the group was forced to speak, yet all six attendees spoke.

At the end of the session, individuals were allowed to  remark about their experience and whether they felt discriminated against at any time during the meeting.

“Well, I felt thoroughly annoyed and mistreated by our neighboring musicians over here,” Kase said.

Everyone laughed as the air was broken by the piercing noise of a flute. The music began at some point during the sharing and continued through the conclusion.

The final act was an emotion-releasing group musical. Everyone stood in a circle and, while holding hands, sang the first three verses of “Let Our Light Shine.”

“The final song is a good release, I believe,” Kase said. “I really enjoy it, and it definitely lightens up the mood a lot. Too bad our flutist couldn’t accompany us for that part.”

Johnson said the group asks people to try the meetings at least three times before making a decision if it’s right for them or not.

“We don’t bug people to come back; it is their choice,” she said. “Every Friday at 6 p.m. in the Persimmon Room in the Indiana Memorial Union no matter what, we will be there to listen.”

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