Showing Up: LRN Launches New Anti-Racism Course

August 24, 2020 Jen Farthing

When I think about this summer and producing our eLearning course, Antiracism: Taking Action, I see our development team’s faces in Zoom format – passionate, eager, and a little bit daunted by the challenge before us as we set our intentions. But, we had an obligation and an opportunity to speak and educate from a legitimate platform. Given such affordances, what would we say when there was so much to speak to?   


 

I asked a few colleagues what stood out to them about this course and the development process as we look back this week as we send our work product out into the world.  

 

“It was a challenge at first because we were all so emotionally investing in creating something that would really help in the journey to create real and lasting change in the workplace and society” Michael del Polito LRN’s Creative Director recalled.  

 

Dana Vazquez, LRN’s ethics and conduct solutions coordinator, added “This was an important opportunity for LRN to leverage its power and influence—this course afforded us a platform to take a strong stance on being antiracist, while also educating our community.” 

 

We had many intimate discussions as we also set about educating ourselves – some of the team took antiracism courses, others shared research and scholarship, while still others immersed themselves in the wider discourse on social media. We listened. And when one colleague suggested that if LRN wanted to take action a good place to start was to offer June 19 as a holiday – a time to reflect, get educated, and be with family and friends if we could safely do that—We did it. 

 

For our partners and their learners, we set out to create provocative, original content based on scenarios that are relatable, but very clear in our deliberate, antiracism stance. We had to explain things routinely misunderstood, like systemic racism and microaggressions, to a world of learners, each with their own experiences that formed the ways they walk in the world.  

 

We wanted to be authentic, progressive, and respectful while recognizing our privilege. That Zoom screen? It has a lot of white faces, including mine, and I would like to acknowledge not only that whiteness but the privilege it afforded simply to be in the creative careers where we are situated. Of thirteen, just three are not white.  

 

We had to be sure we walked our talk, too. I knew our work would be best supported with authenticity and care, and we wanted to get this support in an inclusive and collaborative way that wasn’t asking too much and all at once. We embraced our new diversity, equity, and inclusion expert and LRN’s own Jakiera White, a new media producer and a driving force behind the Juneteenth holiday, became our voiceover talent.  

 

We considered different viewpoints including people from each generation in our multigenerational workforce. I listened more, and talked less as I shared our ideas, mood boards, scripts, and outlines with my other colleagues – the contract writers and editors that support me at this and every job these past 20-some years. That discourse we created where every word was parsed turned out to be a rather short course. This module on anti-racism is only the first of many of our revitalized plan for more diversity, equity, and inclusion content.  

 

So what makes LRN’s content so unique? I asked Kristen Motzer, LRN’s Director of Learning and instructional Design, to sum up our point-of-view, “The learning experience doesn’t shy away from a sensitive issue but prompts learners to confront and reflect on the impact of racism, both at work and in the world, and to consider their role as part of the solution, with tools to support the learner’s adoption of an antiracism mindset.” Knowing the instructive power of research, we want our learners to continue seeking better understanding, so we included a further reading tip sheet along with infographics on difficult conversations and being an ally.  

 

We hope that this short course acts as one step forward in every organization's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion curriculum. We think it's a terrific way to start the conversation. And we hope that the conversation doesn't simply start and stop there.  We are planning extensive updates to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offering in the coming months and are eager to make it as impactful and powerful as possible. We invite you to tell us what it is that you think would be useful in helping to learn together and create companies that are rooted in the equal treatment of everyone. 

About the Author

Jen Farthing

Chief Learning Officer at LRN

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