A New Diversity Training Idea: Theory of Enchantment

Interesting. The most common diversity training programs, which typically rely on concepts like white privilege and white fragility, are often perceived (rightly or wrongly) as efforts to shame white people into submission, or as efforts at defining white people into one box (complicit in racism) and defining blacks into another (victims of racism). Unfortunately, when it comes to changing hearts and minds, perception is reality. (I exited university and corporate life before diversity training took hold, so your various experiences with such programs is welcome in the comment section.)

Theory of Enchantment seems to take the opposite approach.

“Looking for an antiracism program that actually fights bigotry instead of spreading it? You’ve come to the right place. We teach love and compassion …. We invite our clients to explore what connects them as human beings.”

This seems so sensible, so uplifting, and so much more likely to dissolve racial divisiveness and get people pulling on the same team, that I’m sure founder Chloé Valdary will get a lot of pushback from the entrenched (multibillion dollar) diversity training establishment. But if Chloe’s approach can warm this vagabond heart so rooted in the Civil Rights/hippie 1960s, maybe her approach can catch on and warm the hearts of the next generation into a new collective flirtation with compassion and shared humanness.

(Note: I suspect her ideas will not win her many university contracts, but the corporate world might be more responsive in this case. It would be a very curious neo-hippie revolution, if corporations are leading the charge of “peace, love, and friendship,” while student movements cling to a more belligerent us vs. them model of racial dynamics 😊.)

Full disclosure: Chloé is from my hometown of New Orleans and that warms my heart too 😊 (I assume that growing up in New Orleans, which is overloaded on both facets of a mixed-race city — [1] lots of racism, and [2] lots of cross-racial collaboration and friendship — may have partially shaped Chloé’s approach.)

10 thoughts on “A New Diversity Training Idea: Theory of Enchantment

  1. I was just reading about a program the teachers in San Diego are being required to do. I find the more extreme versions very unhelpful and probably more polarizing but anything that says it wants to concentrate more on bringing people together seems like looking into!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It sounds wonderful and uplifting, Gary. I just wonder if police departments would be receptive to it —and how open the zealots at the extremes would be.

    I came across a video of a police chief in an area of strife who had emphasized mindfulness meditation (which I try to practice, including the concept of lovingkindness to oneself and others). Her officers maintained this training helped them remain calmer—and one actually said when faced with a man pointing a gun at him, he used it to deescalate and save a life. I was very excited and planned to write about it—until I read that not much later, there had been a horrific police killing of an unarmed Black man—and the crime rate in that locale had soared.

    But there’s so much hatred in the US (and world) now that I wish the founder the very best. I would love to see such a program become standard fare in institutions, schools, and throughout society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good points, Annie. I would hope that police departments would be interested. They of all people should be interested in a program that steers away from fostering outrage and hidden resentment across racial lines. It wouldn’t fix everything (as your example shows), but an emphasis on “how we are connected as human beings” regardless of race couldn’t hurt.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wrote my Masters thesis many years ago on this manner of diversity focusing more on finding common ground of unity amid diverse elements of society.I would truly say that this concept swept me away as a teacher and later professor in multicultural South Florid.

    Liked by 1 person

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