Congregants' Perspectives on Heather's Training

Polly Talen:

“I was shocked when the ministers said that the racial justice trainer was going to be a white woman. ‘Really- we’re going to hire a white person?’ That was a lot of people’s reaction. But all the training I had gone to at that point had been cultural competency and diversity training, not racial justice training-- not about privilege, power, oppression, whiteness. A major change of this church was this move towards a racial justice journey...a transformation of the church. That’s what we’re trying to affect.

My partner who is whiter than white went through the three day training, and her eyes were this big. She is so thrilled to be in a supportive environment to practice being uncomfortable. This is about doing things differently.”1

Lyn Rabinovich:

“I think the more you get into it, the more you see the injustice. So now I have a stack of books [on racial justice] that I’ve read and another stack that I want to read. And then when you read the newspaper, you do it differently because you start looking at things through a racial justice lens. Heather taught us a technique called ‘racing a room;’ when you’re in a room, look around and see who is in this room and who has the power in this room.”2

Fawzia Khan:

 “The training’s message was for the white congregants, and that makes it something different. Often when you see diversity training, it ends up being a person of color saying ‘Gee, the rest of us are just like you!’ But to have a white person come in and ask mostly white people, ‘Do you realize that you have white privilege? Do you know what white privilege is?' That’s, I think a powerful message. And people are more likely to accept that coming from a white person. They don’t think, ‘Oh, that person has an agenda because they’re a person of color.’ Because really, Heather has nothing to gain by sharing that with other people.”3


  1. Polly Talen, Interview with Natalie Jacobson, April 24, 2016.

  1. Lyn Rabinovitch, Interview with Natalie Jacobson, April 17, 2016.

  1. Fawzia Khan, Interview by Natalie Jacobson, May 20th, 2016.