National Coalition Building Institute
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Foundation and approach
NCBI was founded by Cherie R. Brown in 1984. Its mission is to help eliminate prejudice and intergroup conflict in communities throughout the world. NCBI's approach is based on Re-evaluation Counseling (or Co-counseling), which was founded in the 1950s by Harvey Jackins. According to RC, humans' willingness to oppress and to be oppressed is a result of distress recordings that are installed by early hurts, usually during childhood, and which are restimulated throughout people's lives. Co-counseling leads to discharge,the process by which the human organism rids itself—by shivering, yawning, laughing, perspiring, raging, and nonrepetitivve talking—of these harmful distress recordings that are the basis of oppression. Jackins writes that "The re-emergence from distress patterns which we co-counsel to achieve is the dependably long-range channel for achieving the liberation of humans from all oppressions."
NCBI trains community leaders who in bridge-building skills to combat intergroup conflicts. NCBI's motto is "Every issue counts" which means that no type of oppression (racism, classism, sexism, etc.) takes priority over another. NCBI focuses on sharing personal stories of discrimination and mistreatment without shaming or blaming the perpetrators and on building allies in other groups so that members of oppressed groups are not isolated.
Chapters and affiliates
Currently NCBI has 50 city-based leadership teams, known as NCBI Chapters; 30 organization-based leadership teams, known as NCBI Affiliates; and over 60 college/university-based teams, known as Campus Affiliates. Most NCBI chapters include participants from public and private schools, local businesses, law enforcement agencies, religious institutions, community organizations, trade unions, and government offices. The local leadership teams embody all sectors of the community, including elected officials, law enforcement officers, government workers, educators, students, business executives, labor union leaders, community activists, and religious leaders. These community leaders work together as a resource team to deal with prejudice and intergroup tensions.
NCBI teams meet regularly and lead prejudice reduction programs for organizations in their communities, and they intervene with conflict resolution skills when intergroup conflicts arise. They may also offer programs that help organizations to build inclusive environments. NCBI Chapters provide an opportunity for community people from all different ages and backgrounds to get to know one another, to build enough trust to bridge group isolation. An NCBI Chapter can offer a model for the rest of the community, showing how human beings can cooperate across group divisions.
NCBI has conducted diversity programs on hundreds of college campuses. There are active Campus Affiliates at 65 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. An NCBI Campus Affiliate consists of a representative cross-section of students, faculty, and administrators, trained by NCBI, to provide a pro-active response to discrimination and inter-group conflict on campus. The NCBI-trained team offers year-long leadership workshops that create a more inclusive campus environment. Participants in the team-led workshops acquire skills for shifting prejudicial attitudes and learn how to become more effective allies for one another.
A college or university becomes an NCBI Campus Affiliate by paying a lead trainer from NCBI headquarters to lead a three-day Train-the-Trainer Seminar. In this training, campus participants learn how to lead the eight-hour Prejudice Reduction Workshop and the NCBI Controversial Issue Process. Following the Train-the-Trainer Seminar, NCBI, in consultation with the sponsoring institution, selects a Campus Affiliate Director. The Affiliate Director leads the campus team and serves as the liaison with the NCBI National Office. The NCBI Campus Program Director, an experienced campus consultant, offers monthly telephone support and supervision to the Affiliate Director. Members of the campus team also receive ongoing training and support through monthly campus meetings as well as through NCBI's Annual National Campus Conference, where Campus Affiliates share resources and information on best practices.
Chapters contribute 10% of income generated from fee-for-service work back to NCBI headquarters. No chapters have paid full-time staff and are generally run from a combination of volunteers and paid consultants who conduct trainings and related programs in their local community.
The day-long NCBI Prejudice Reduction Workshop has several objectives. Participants are asked to disclose information identity groups to which they belong so that they can celebrate their similarities and differences, recognize the misinformation they learned about various groups, identify and heal from internalized oppression, the discrimination members of an oppressed group target at themselves and each other, claim pride in group identity, understand the personal impact of discrimination through the telling of stories, and learn hands-on tools for dealing effectively with bigoted comments and behavior.
The NCBI workshop is experiential in order to move people to new understandings about oppression and prejudice because of its focus on personal stories. All NCBI programming is always co-led or co-facilitated to demonstrated how people can support each other's leadership and be effective allies to one another across group lines. For these reasons, trainer teams typically cross groups lines of sex, race, age, sexual orientation or several of these.
As in any other workshop the facilitators take the time to review some ground rules as well as give an overview of the day. The first part of the workshop is designed to create some safety among the attendees by offering them a chance to see the things that they hold in common with each other. From this exercise, participants have a chance to share their multiple identities with another participant.
From this base, the model then moves to exposing stereotypes we all hold of each other. After processing that information, participants then look at that ways in which they have internalized these stereotypes of the groups to which they belong.
Following these exercises, participants have the opportunity to participate in caucuses choosing one of their identities to focus on. The caucus reports allow participants to share things they never want to hear about their group again as well as things that they want participants to know about their group and things they never want to hear about their group.
The next section, Speak Outs, a few people are asked to share a story of a time when they experienced painful discrimination or mistreatment.
The workshop ends with strategies and intervention skills to help participants learn to interrupt prejudicial remarks, slurs or jokes. During a role-play exercise, participants learn that to effectively mitigate prejudice they must be in a place to listen to the person who made the comment, to engage that person in dialogue, and to allow this person to share their perspective. Participants come to understand that only through listening and engaging people in further dialogue, can they help others move to a new understanding of oppression.
After an independent evaluation of dozens of college diversity programs, the U.S. Department of Education recognized NCBI's campus work as a "promising practice," a designation of excellence given to only a handful of programs in the United States.
The national news media has reported on the effectiveness of NCBI programs. The Washington Post published a front page story on the significance of NCBI's work with young people. ABC World News featured NCBI as a "program that works." On the anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, The Los Angeles Times published a feature story on NCBI in its Sunday Magazine, citing NCBI's work in Los Angeles as some of the most important anti-racism work being done in the city. Weekly, the newsletter of the National League of Cities, in a special supplement, urged local elected officials to enlist the assistance of NCBI in creating proactive solutions to racial tensions. Stories on the success of NCBI's work have also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and on National Public Radio.
Critics of Re-Evaluation Counseling have tried to associate NCBI with critiques of Re-evaluation Counseling. The National Coalition Building Institute is formally independent of Re-Evaluation Counseling but is linked through Cherie R. Brown, its Founder-Executive Director, who is also a member of RC and active in the Re-evaluation Counseling affiliate organization United to End Racism. Brown has acknowledged that she has learned a great deal about anti-oppression work from Re-evaluation Counseling.
- Harvey Jackins, The Human Situation, Rational Island Press, p.108
- National Coalition Building Institute
- Cherie Brown, "Applying decisive ideas boldly", Present Time
- Excerpt from RC journal Ruah Hadashah
- Cherie R. Brown, "Lessons Learned in Durban", Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2001
- The Humanistic Psychologist, 24:391-402 (1998)