By Erica Etelson
212 resisters attended our June 17 workshop on how to talk to Trump supporters. We spent the day learning and practicing the art of Powerful NonDefensive Communication and discussing ways in which we can use it to engage in productive, respectful dialogue with people whose views we disagree with (to say the least).
After the workshop, several participants lingered and told me and the presenter, Sharon Ellison, that the workshop “changed my life.” Having attended several of Sharon’s workshops in the past and had my mind blown by the novelty and brilliance of her communication insights, I wasn’t surprised (but was very gratified) to hear this. The chief complaint was that the workshop should have been longer (8 hours wasn’t enough!) so that we could have had more time to practice the skills.
One particularly powerful and enlightening moment came when a participant affirmed Sharon’s belief that condescending to, insulting, humiliating and shaming Trump supporters and bigots runs the risk of dangerously backfiring. The participant, an African-American woman, noted that “all black people have PhDs in white behavior because we have to” and went on to urge whites to be very careful when interacting with racists because, when we enrage them with insults or condescension, they will take their anger out on black people and will perhaps even be driven into the welcoming arms of white supremacist groups. In other words, disrespecting “deplorables” puts people of color in danger. When it comes to being a white ally “calling out” racism, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Wow.
Indivisible chapters in San Jose, Sonoma and Yolo have already booked Sharon to come do workshops for them and there’s interest from San Francisco and from Swing Left chapters.
If you missed the workshop but want to get a taste of Powerful NonDefensive Communication, Sharon was interviewed on KPFA last week and you can listen to that interview here: https://kpfa.org/episode/talkies-june-14-2017.