At the annual conference of the American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT) in June 2019, I had the pleasure of introducing Darryl Aiken-Afam to lead a “Contact & Conversation (C&C) 1.0” for an audience of at least 50 Alexander Technique teachers.
Special thanks to Renee Schneider, conference chair, and Kris Mazieko, who liased with Darryl to make this session possible, as well as the countless AmSAT and Alexander Technique Diversity Coalition members who contributed.
This was so meaningful to me: “My name is Allyna Steinberg and I’m a member and co-founder of the Alexander Technique Diversity Coalition. I am beyond pleased to be here to introduce Darryl Aiken-Afam to you. First, I am pleased because I think this learning and exploration is key to us as human beings, as well as key to the Alexander Technique community becoming more inclusive. The Alexander Technique Diversity Coalition facilitated related discussions at the 2017 AmSAT Conference and the 2018 Alexander Technique World Congress, and I am glad to see this trajectory continue. Second, I am beyond pleased because Darryl educates with clarity, facilitates with warmth, and focuses on means whereby within his approach.
Darryl has a master’s in leadership psychology, and has founded an organization called Ambient Noise dedicated to engaging the problem of American Racism on the personal and institutional levels… Darryl has spoken at a variety of institutions from very large institutions like universities and hospitals, to community-based institutions like the two places that I have participated in a C&C session before: the Richard Beavers Gallery in Brooklyn between Bedford-Stuveysant and Crown Heights; and a Church about 40 blocks from here [Columbia University, Manhattan]. I left both of those C&C sessions “at curiosity”, wanting to learn more. I am very hopeful that you will feel this way too and that this will support our continued exploration together. I also hope that you will be inspired to continue this learning in the places where you live and teach. Without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Darryl Aiken-Afam.”
C&C is a unique method that combines mindfulness meditation and philosophy, physical connection, and evidence-based social psychological methods of reducing racism. As described in the conference program, the C&C “methodology of social healing is designed to help us gather together to converse deeply and authentically about racism through the use of mindfulness meditation, human touch, and social psychological tools. It helps us bridge the gulf of mental discomfort, pain and intense emotions often associated with discussing race and racism. Darryl’s work helps individuals, groups, and institutions of all kinds to engage in transformative conversations around racial diversity and inclusion from a philosophical base of universal Oneness.”
The workshop came to a close with a question and answer session and a partial standing ovation. I did not say “ended” because the room was a buzz with curiosity, the desire to learn and explore more.
Darryl also shared this thoughtful email and below resources:
“Hello everyone, Thank you so much for the honor of allowing me to bring the healing work of Contact & Conversation to you and your organization! Thank you for your openness and eagerness to delve into this uncomfortable matter of racism with such passion! It was very encouraging to me. As promised I have a short beginners list of foundational resources that are an absolute MUST in developing your self knowledge and overall understanding about racial literacy. Below there is a link to take the Implicit Bias test to begin your journey of self knowledge and discovery. Following this are some real time live workshops and gatherings around racism and whiteness, foundational knowledge about whiteness in America, the racial roots of gentrification, and social and governmental policy as it relates to the criminal justice system. I know if you dig into these they will be fantastically helpful and supportive on your journey!…I hope to see you again soon! -Darryl“
Please find below the “MUST” resources Darryl shared:
IMPLICIT BIAS SELF TEST
In Person Training
1. Ambient Noise - Contact & Conversation 1.0 & 2.0 training - https://www.ambientnoisembrr.org/
2. The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond - Undoing Racism & European Dissent - https://www.pisab.org/programs/
Racial Literacy on Whiteness
1. Tim Wise documentary - White Like Me - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gXXKn91hKs&t=1657s
2. Robin D/Angelo book - White Fragility - https://robindiangelo.com/publications/
1. Kelly Anderson documentary - My Brooklyn - https://mybrooklynmovie.com/
Social & Governmental Policy and the Criminal Justice system
1. Michelle Alexander book - The New jim Crow - http://newjimcrow.com/
2. Steven Maing documentary on HULU - Crime + Punishment - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4WfaaJi_fQ&t=45s
For more resources, please visit the “notes” section and posts on the Alexander Technique Diversity Coalition Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/ATDiversity.