Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Photo by    Stacy Keck

Photo by Stacy Keck

The news makes us deeply sad almost every day. We know there’s good in the world, but there’s also a lot that needs to be changed, both abroad and in our own community. But being sad and doing nothing isn’t going to get us anywhere. At YBH, we intend to keep trying to change the world, even when it feels futile.  

Because the reality is, It’s not futile. 

One thing we believe deep in our hearts is that lasting change requires of each person a willingness to see beyond their own narrow perspective. As compassionate and open as we may be, if we’re not paying attention to the world around us, or if we’re deliberately avoiding uncomfortable conversations that may shake up our world-view, then we’re missing out on opportunities for deep connection and healing in our communities. 

As part of our commitment to our community and to the expansion of our own perspectives, we’ve partnered up with Maharani Peace Hall to present a series of Elephant Talks.  

What are Elephant Talks?

As quoted from Maharani herself,

Elephant Talks are about addressing the ‘elephant’ in the room.  We tackle important and sometimes difficult equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) topics that far too often are pushed aside due to people’s discomfort.  In a safe yet brave setting, facilitators embark on a journey of reflection, understanding, growth, and positive change with participants. This is hard but necessary work.  The conversations will be uncomfortable at points but with the willingness of all involved the hope is to come to new levels of understanding and compassion. We are all knowledge holders and through deep, meaningful, guided dialogue we can collectively start to change perspectives, hearts, and minds.

On Wednesday, July 24, Maharani began our first Elephant Talk by introducing the topic of Stereotypes and presenting the guidelines for participation. The idea was for people to share the ways in which they have been stereotyped or have stereotyped others. In order to speak, participants were encouraged to pick up an object from a selection of items designated to indicate their desire to speak. 

The bravery and vulnerability of all the participants was really powerful. Every one of us admitted to at least one instance of stereotyping others. This led us to a discussion of the importance of being able to distinguish between a “racist comment” and a “racist person.” We learned that though our anger may be righteous, it doesn’t always serve to write off people as racist when they say something racially insensitive.  As difficult and uncomfortable as it may be, our willingness to communicate our experiences and to challenge insensitive statements may hold within it the potential to create a shift in perspective.

Our Favorite Takeaway

Our first Elephant Talk was a mind-blowing experience. If we had to choose just one takeaway from this particular event, it was this: It’s cool to communicate with those who think like you, but when you can communicate with those who don’t think like you, your perspective opens exponentially. And that’s where the magic happens. These are teachable moments, that help us to reflect and challenge ourselves and those around us and within our community. 

Please join us on August 21st, 7-830pm for our next discussion about Identity. 

Keep an eye on our events calendar for our monthly Elephant Talk with Maharani Peace Hall. We guarantee you’ll learn something about yourself and that you’ll find hope in  humanity through connection with the other people in the room. 

Maharani Peace Hall is gifted in the art of creating a safe space, facilitating uncomfortable conversations, and nurturing actionable solutions.  

She has been an advocate for exposure and change for the arts, education, students, and displaced populations amongst other things. She has spent the last several years attempting to draw attention to issues revolving around Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Throughout the years Maharani has had a range of experiences that have led her to want to create, host, and facilitate "Elephant Talks" in an effort to address, unpack, and hopefully start positively changing some of the major topics that impede our humanity. Her sincerest hope is to create a safe yet brave space where conversations can lead to actionable solutions which can take root in the hearts and minds of many so we can literally be the change we want to see in the world.