Purifying the Poisoned Well: Changing the Consciousness of Racism
If you live in a town with a single well from which to drink, and it gets poisoned, everyone is getting poisoned. Similarly, if you live in a society with a toxic thought system, everyone will harbor it in their conscious and/or unconscious minds. The belief system of racism that enabled America’s white founders and immigrants to commit or collude with genocide, slavery and indentured servitude is passed along, both overtly and covertly, through the generations and continues to this day. This system of racist beliefs harms not only people of color, but White people as well. Public employees have an opportunity to dismantle systemic oppression in every area in which they work, by becoming agents of change. Being a change agent involves awareness of one’s own racist ideology or internalized oppression and an active commitment to change. Public employees can help their organizations become more inclusive, and ultimately more effective and innovative, by addressing their own perspectives, behaviors and relationships regarding race. This workshop is one step in a life-long journey of purifying the poisoned well.
About the Presenter(s)
Danette C. Gillespie-Otto, LCSW, is a therapist, facilitator and public speaker. She obtained a Master’s of Social Work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2000, and became licensed clinical social worker in 2007. She has worked in the areas of research, higher education, diversity training, mentoring, community mental health and private practice, quality improvement and administrative leadership. She served as the Clinical Director of the OHSU Avel Gordly Center for Healing for over 6 years, and most recently worked in the Multnomah County Mental Health and Addictions Services Division, prior to starting her own business. In her practice at Communion Counseling & Consulting, LLC, Ms. Gillespie-Otto uses interpersonal neurobiology and cognitive behavioral therapy as her primary modes of supporting clients in their journey towards well-being. Ms. Gillespie-Otto believes that deep personal transformation, embedded in caring relationships and guided by compassion, is the foundation of both personal and collective healing.