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Beyond Black and White: Being Chinese in America

What is Chinese UNtraining?

The Chinese UNtraining program is an opportunity to identify how we internalize messages from the dominant white culture to be our own, and to explore the effects of internalized racism in a group setting with others who identify as people of Chinese descent. Internalized oppression affects our ability to love ourselves, to be advocates for ourselves and for our communities. Together we have learned how this work can bring further healing and liberation for ourselves and others.

How We Got Started

In 2009, a small group of friends and colleagues of Chinese heritage were given the opportunity to work with Rita Shimmin on issues of internalized racism. Rita invited UNtraining co-founder Ro Horton to explore with her and the group how the UNtraining could be adapted to work with a specific group of people of color. Since then the Chinese group has expanded, and a unique curriculum has evolved (and continues to evolve). Some members of the original group are now facilitators for new groups.

Why Chinese People Only?

It's an opportunity to form deep and powerful connections with a diverse group of Chinese people!  People of Color are conditioned to adhere to social norms determined by the white/Anglo dominant culture, which exist to keep the dominant group safe, in power, and privileged. While People of Color share many common experiences, internalized oppression roots itself, expresses itself, and impacts each ethnic-specific group differently. Working in a Chinese-only group allows us to: 

·      Speak and work with our experiences without worrying about having to "take care of the white people," a common manifestation of internalized oppression. 

·      Notice and appreciate the diversity within a Chinese cohort, to challenge stereotypes imposed through social media, daily micro (and not so micro) aggressions that "Chinese people are all the same."  

·      To appreciate where we may share common history and experiences as Chinese people. While the experience of each person in the group is unique, we also have common collective experiences. The work is to uncover how internalized oppression has prevented us from being able to connect with our history, communities, families, and ourselves within the context of Chinese in America.

·      Explore how we have been impacted (and have internalized) the cultural conditioning from our own Chinese heritage, including aspects of Chinese cultural conditioning that may be a direct response to oppression; the challenge in having to negotiate two different cultures; and the curious and sometimes persistent feeling that we can never truly belong here nor there.

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