We're making resources you can use for building your own antiracism learning-action group
The ALAN Group is organized in a very specific manner, based on 5 semesters of experience for what works well for our relatively small group of graduate students and professors. We have two main types of meetings: 1) general-body meetings and 2) subgroup meetings.
General-body meetings happen on a weekly basis. These meetings are attended by everyone in the group, and fall into two categories: 1) learning meetings and 2) action meetings. Usually, the type of meeting alternates every week.
Learning meetings have taken different forms each semester, but are always focused on identifying our own learning edges and pushing them. These meetings are coordinated by the Learning Meeting Chair. Some semesters, the Learning Meeting Chair has developed a specific curriculum and facilitated learning meeting discussions. Other semesters, the Learning meeting Chair schedules other group members to lead facilitation and discussion on topics they choose. Either way, group members are expected to read and reflect on something (articles, videos, papers, etc) before the learning meeting begins, and the facilitator is expected to prepare discussion questions and keep the meeting flowing smoothly. Some facilitators prefer to give a short presentation before the discussion, but that is optional. Topic flexibility is also important: the schedule is sometimes changed around to accommodate decompression sessions and discussion of current events. As long as something is scheduled regularly, it's more likely the group maintains momentum.
Action meetings have also taken different forms, but are always focused on working towards getting something done. These groups are facilitated by the Action Meeting Chair. Action meetings are a place to accomplish any of the following:
Give a space for subgroups to present action updates to the general body (helpful for accountability and making sure the subgroups are making progress)
Get feedback and ideas from the general body about subgroup actions
Practice, develop, and implement individual antiracist actions (e.g., roleplay microaggression scenarios, choose protests to go to, find organizations to donate to, discuss how to improve teaching and mentorship)
Form and organize new action subgroups
Work collectively on a particular action (e.g., our Research Opportunity Catalog was made over the course of several general-body action meetings)
Subgroups are smaller groups of members, who meet separately in addition to the general-body meetings. They are lead by Subgroup Chairs, who schedule meetings and allocate responsibilities to the other members of the subgroups (usually 2-3 other people). Subgroups are more nimble than the general-body, and can spend more focused time on particular projects. However, it is essential that the subgroups report back to the general-body in order to have accountability and to get advice on progress and next steps. Some of our current and past subgroups:
Science Expo Subgroup
ALAN Planning and Organizing Subgroup
Inclusive Teaching Subgroup
Remote Learning Science Video Library Subgroup
Community Volunteering Accountability Subgroup
Mental Health Subgroup
Antiracist Department/Lab Statements Subgroup
Advanced Opportunity Fellowship Subgroup
Head over to the Other ALAN Actions section to learn more about some of the subgroup results.
Our Most Important Advice
It's critical that you budget time for it. Have a standing meeting time for general-body meetings. It's easy for things to fall by the wayside, or to feel overwhelmed by the colossal amount of systemic injustice. But nothing is going to happen if you don't make space to work on it in the first place.
We've made a number of resources, which we use frequently. Feel free to adapt them to help build your own group.