The UNtraining is a provocative and compassionate approach to help people discover how to work together in extraordinary ways to end our collusion with racism and all forms of oppression. The UNtraining provides insights and tools for all levels of experience and activism to white people and people of color.
The UNtraining groups for people of color and white people share a common foundational curriculum based on the teachings of Rita Shimmin and developed by Rita Shimmin and Robert/ Ro Horton:
The UNtraining is essentially a facilitation training that offers a path of practices and activities that increase awareness of self, relational interactions, and field phenomena. From the foundational curriculum, each group diverges on their own path to discover the deep conditioning of their specific group and how it overlaps and intersects with the conditioning they receive from the dominant culture, which in the United States supports the notion of white supremacy.
UNtraining groups generally engage in the following path:
Two facilitators - Facilitators are trained UNtraining teachers, trained UNtraining teaching assistants, and teachers invited from other disciplines.
Minimum number of participants in a group is 6.
Six-month commitment to work together.
Progressive cycles of training are available.Six monthly meetings constitute a cycle of training. The meetings are 3-5 hours duration, totaling 18 to 30 hours of training per cycle. Participants must start with the first phase. Groups are heavily experiential, with didactic, contextual material also delivered. The UNtraining also produces invitation-only events and an introductory public workshop.
The UNtraining currently offers the following tracks, online currently due to Covid-19 restrictions:
UNtraining White Liberal Racism - currently offering groups online. We have also offered in-person groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, Quad Cities/ Chicago, and Western Massachusetts. We expect to offer these again as staff availability and health protocols permit.
People of Color UNtraining - a blend of different ethnicities and races, online and in SF Bay Area only
Advanced Facilitator Training
How The UNtraining Got Started
In 1989, chronic health problems led Robert to become involved with Process Oriented Psychology (aka Process Work). He studied Process Work for the next 7 years. The most significant event for him during that time was meeting Rita Shimmin at a five-week Process Work intensive with a diverse group of participants from 13 different countries. Rita was there checking out whether or not she would recommend Process Work to the African American community. She and Robert became friends. Eventually Rita also became his teacher and mentor, and the catalyst for founding The UNtraining.
Frequently at Process Work events, after large group processes around racism, the people of color would ask the white people to work on racism themselves. At one point Robert, being a typical white liberal, asked Rita, "Why doesn't somebody do that?" Her reply was, "Why don't you do that?" This was the first seed.
As Robert's relationship with Rita deepened and they worked on racism in the context of their friendship, Robert didn't want what he was learning from Rita to end with him. Also, he was struck by the enormity of the work that people of color have to do to have white people as friends. He began adapting what he'd learned from Rita and translating how she worked with him into exercises and ways of working with other white people. The result was The UNtraining.