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Decolonizing the Mind through conversation we were never meant to have event with Claudia Fox Tree and Debby Irving

Decolonizing the Mind Through Conversation We Were Never Meant to Have

November 4, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Sunday, November 4, 2018  •  2:00–4:00 pm, Jenks Center, 109 Skillings Road, Winchester

Join Claudia Fox Tree and Debby Irving for an onstage conversation as they explore how U.S. narratives shaped their understanding of themselves, one another, and the complex world we live in.

Claudia and Debby’s conversation will be unstructured, modeling the nature of authentic cross-racial conversations. Topics they move in and out of may include:

What word should we use? American Indian, Native American, First Nations, Indigenous People? What were we taught about this?

How did we connect and what has that meant in our own conversations?

What is it like, as an indigenous person, to reach out to white person who may or may not have developed racial awareness?

What is the earliest memory you have of Native Americans? What is it (image, word, name, in person, etc.)

What did you learn about First Nations people in school? in movies/on TV? in books? other places?

How did our knowledge of “other” evolve over time? How is this related to the idea of racial identity development?

What stereotypes have we internalized? (mascots, too) and how do we decolonize? What action steps do we already take?

What is the most difficult thing to address/cope with on the journey of learning/knowing about indigenous people?

About Claudia Fox Tree

Claudia is a multiracial/multiethnic Native American whose father is Native American (Arawak-Yurumein) and mother is German (from Mannheim-Feudenheim). Although she spent the first five years of her life in Germany and speaks German, she was born in Boston, has primarily grown up in the U.S.A., and been educated in Massachusetts, where she is active in the local Native American community.

Claudia earned a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts (Boston), majoring in Anthropology and Psychology; Elementary (gr. 1-6) and Moderate Special Education (gr. 5-12) certifications from Fitchburg State College; and a M.Ed. from Northeastern University in Educational Research, focusing on Native American identity development.

Claudia is on the board of the Massachusetts Center for Native Americans and the Massachusetts liaison for the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP), headquartered in New York. She has been a presenter at numerous conferences and workshops at colleges and civic organizations across New England, and has also made appearances both in Germany and the Caribbean, the lands of her ancestors. She has spoken to all ages from preschool to adult.

In January 2017, Claudia was the first speaker at the Boston’s Women’s March, spoke to over 125,000 thousand people on the Boston Common, and introduced her daughter who sang, “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee and then lead the crowd through the first verse in English.
In 2016, Claudia was the 58th woman to be featured by YM (Eliminating Racism/Empowering Women) Boston Women of Influence Series for the YWCA’s 150th year anniversary.
In 2015, Community Change, Inc. recognized Claudia with the Drylongso Award for significant anti-racism work.

Learn More.

About Debby Irving

Irving uses her own life to explore the everyday systemic racism that goes largely unnoticed yet perpetuates long-held racialized belief systems. Waking Up White functions as both a “Racism 101” for white people and a rare exposé on whiteness for people of color. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As she unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she’s changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the racial justice movement as a whole. For white readers wanting to further their own awakening, Irving includes short prompts and exercises at the end of each chapter.

Read more from Debby’s press release.

In Debby’s own words:

“I’m a white woman, raised in Winchester, Massachusetts during the socially turbulent 1960s and ‘70s. After a blissfully sheltered, upper-middle-class suburban childhood, I found myself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by the racial divide I observed in Boston. From 1984 to 2009 my work in urban neighborhoods and schools left me feeling helpless. Why did people live so differently along racial lines? Why were student outcomes so divergent? Why did I get so jumpy when talking to a person of color? Where did the fear of saying something stupid or offensive come from, and why couldn’t I make it go away? The more I tried to understand racial dynamics, the more confused I became. I knew there was an elephant in the room, I just didn’t know it was me!”

“In 2009, a course at Wheelock College, Racial and Cultural Identity, shook me awake with the realization that I’d missed step #1: examining the way being a member of the “normal” race had interfered with my attempts to understand racism. What began as a professional endeavor became a personal journey as I shifted from trying to figure out people whom I’d been taught to see as “other” to making sense of my own socialization.”

“My book Waking Up White is the story of my two-steps-forward-one-step back journey away from racial ignorance. I continue to study racism and strategies for its undoing while working to educate other white people confused and frustrated by racism. I remember these feelings all too well and am passionate about transforming anxiety and inaction into empowerment and action, be it for an individual or an organization.”

Learn More.


This program is FREE and open to all.


November 4, 2018
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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Jenks Center
109 Skillings Road
Winchester, MA 01890 United States
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