So You Want to Talk About Race

LGBTQ+ Health Initiative’s Anti-racism Listening & Learning  Series

After a few months hiatus in order to restructure, the LGBTQ+ Health Initiative started a Winter Anti-Racism Series the week of 1/18/21, and offered this Series again on 2/26/21. A description of this offering is below.

So You Want to Talk About Race front book cover

Series Information

The Winter Series creates an opportunity to explore your own internalized racism and begin to consider how to discuss racism in your personal and work circles. This will be in a book club format, and we will be reading So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. We will make space for both BIPOC and white people to wrestle with how this information may be different than what they learned in the past, and how it changes their perspectives on the world today.

This series is primarily focused on employees of the NYS HHS LGBT Network member organizations. However, it is open to the public and anyone who is interested in constructive dialogue and learning is welcome to join. We have four co-creators and co-facilitators for these sessions: Olajiwon McCadney, Myra Henry, Carolina Kroon, Brooke Levandowski and Lolan Sevilla.

Olajiwon McCadney is smiling at the camera.

Olajiwon K. McCadney (he/they) is the Chair for Diversity Studies & the Executive Director for Intercultural Student Success & Strategic Partnerships at HACC, Pennsylvania Community Colleges. Additionally, McCadney is a board member for the National Association for African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) as well as serves as a facilitator for the national team with the national team for the Center for Restorative Justice at the University of San Diego. Lastly, McCadney holds an MSEd in Organizational Leadership & Performance Technology from the College at Potsdam, State University of New York as well as certification in Professional Coaching and is a current doctoral candidate at Northeastern University.

Carolina Kroon is smiling at the camera.

Carolina Kroon (gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is a visual producer, educator and activist who collaborates with organizations and individuals working towards social justice. For more than two decades she has assisted in representing communities, conspiring with many of the countries’ most effective publications and non-profits. She has facilitated and taught visual literacy and production with many people ranging in age from 8-80 in both community and academic settings. Her organizing has been focused within the LGBTQ and Women’s communities. She is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Brooke Levandowski is smiling for the camera.

Brooke A. Levandowski, PhD, MPA (she/her) is the director of the LGBTQ+ Health Initiative. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. An epidemiologist by training, Brooke’s research seeks to improve stigmatized health outcomes through understanding the influence of culture on health decision making, primarily in the field of reproductive and sexual health. The LGBTQ+ Health Initiative is an excellent opportunity to work within our queer community to improve our health!

Lolan Buhain Sevilla is holding a piece of paper that reads Fight like hell for the living.

Lolan Buhain Sevilla, MPA (gender pronouns: they/them/their) is a cultural worker & organizer who strives to root their work in community, study and practice. They have spent the last decade cultivating an expertise in cross-sectoral nonprofit administration, specializing in crisis management, program strategy, and board development that is grounded in an anti-oppressive framework, and trauma informed lens. Lolan currently works as the Senior Manager of Leadership Development Programs at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Audre Lorde Project. A member of the National Writers Union (Local 1981), they have numerous publishing credits, including the recently co-authored “Individual Struggle, Widespread Injustice: Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Peoples’ Experiences of Systematic Employment Discrimination.

Former Co-Creators and Co-Facilitators

Dr. Myra P Henry is smiling at the camera

Myra P. Henry, Ed.D. (gender pronouns: she/her/hers) is an Administrative Change Agent and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Practitioner who currently serves as the President and CEO of the YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County. Dr. Henry completed the National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy in 2018. She served on the Monroe County Alliance for Transformation of Community and Police. On her own initiative and in response to colleagues’ requests, four years ago Dr. Henry created one of the first DEI committees at the University of Rochester which has actively engaged library staff in a variety of interactive DEI activities. Among this work, Dr. Henry has co-facilitated two White Fragility book clubs and diversity dialog sessions on various EDI related topics.

The LGBTQ+ Health Initiative put together this Series in response to a recent technical assistance survey of Network organizations in which 45% reported they are interested in additional anti-racism training. Additionally, the events of 2020 have highlighted how urgent and crucial it is to understand the history of structural racism in the United States and to think about how structural racism impacts our lives and our work. We have made updates to the structure of this series based on feedback from the summer. Changes include having two BIPOC, two white facilitators and separate spaces for BIPOC and white participants to discuss the book and their learning and perspectives.

All meetings will be hosted on Zoom. The link will be sent after registration.

The winter Series is planned for 3-4pm on Fridays. Two groups will be held over a 4 week period, the first starting January 18th, and the second starting on February 26th. The meeting times have been chosen as they do not conflict with any of the Network committee meetings. Please see the planned dates and times in the calendar above.

We will be reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo for the winter 2021 Series. Previously, we listened to “Seeing White” from Scene On Radio in our Summer 2020 Series. Other materials we are considering for future Series include:

We have purchased 15 copies of So You Want to Talk About Race from a local, woman owned bookstore, The Dog Eared Book. Network members can request copies of the books to be sent to their homes during registration. We also encourage people to check out copies from their local libraries, or to order the book from local, LGBTQ+, and/or BIPOC owned bookstores. The Libby application allows you to connect with your local library virtually and download eBooks.Finally, if you are someone who prefers listening to reading, So You Want to Talk About Race is available on Audible and Audiobooks.

Emergent Strategy Group Agreements:

  • Listen from the inside out, or listen from the bottom up (a feeling in your gut matters!);
  • Engage Tension, Don’t Indulge Drama;
  • W.A.I.T.—Why Am I Talking?
  • Make Space, Take Space—a post-ableist adaptation of step up, step back – to help balance the verbose and the reticent
  • Confidentiality—take the lessons, leave the details;
  • Be open to learning;
  • Be open to someone else speaking your truth;
  • Building, not selling—when you speak, converse, don’t pitch;
  • Yes/and, both/and;
  • Value the process as much as, if not more than, you value the outcomes;
  • Assume best intent; attend to impact;
  • Self care and community care—pay attention to your bladder, pay attention to your neighbors;
  • Trauma-Informed Care Guidelines.

* These agreements come from adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy, published in 2017.

This is a unique time in our history and many people are experiencing trauma. We recognize the current-day racial injustices in the institutions that are a part of the history of oppression and racism that can have a traumatic effect on the experience of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Racism brings up many feelings for all of us: guilt, loss, grief, anger, isolation, anxiety, fear, nervousness, lack of concentration, sadness, bitterness, depression, numbness, denial, fight, flight, freeze, etc, and people who had past trauma and/or historical trauma may be especially vulnerable. We will do our best to ensure that we respect the five trauma-informed care guiding principles during these sessions: Safety, Choice, Collaboration, Trustworthiness, and Empowerment, to avoid re-traumatizing those in the session.

Using Gender Pronouns

Consider adding your pronouns in parenthesis after your name! This can be a helpful way to make sure you’re respecting everyone’s pronouns while making it easier for folks to declare theirs.

To add pronouns to your name:

  1. Tap the Settings icon.
  2. Choose Edit Profile.
  3. After your last name, write in your pronouns (e.g. “(she/her)”). Using parenthesis helps separate your pronouns from your name.

Customizing Skin Tone for Reactions

Zoom offers two reaction icons that you can use during a call: a hands’ clap and finger up. You can adjust the skin color on these reactions to better match your own.

To change the reaction skin tone:

  1. Tap the Settings icon in Zoom.
  2. Choose Meetings.
  3. Scroll down, tap Reactive Skin Tone.
  4. Change the reactive skin tone.

In a meeting:

  1. Click the ^ arrow next to Video (bottom left corner of screen).
  2. Select Video Settings.
  3. Select General.
  4. Choose reactive skin tone.


Please fill out this registration form. If the time for Group A does not work for you, please choose Group B. With sufficient interest, we are able to hold a second, concurrent session. We have 16 open spaces per Group, so we ask that you please register if you plan on joining!

For the winter book club series, we ask that you attend at least 3 of the 4 meetings in order to have the best experience and to create continuity for the group.

We are pleased that you have people in your life that may also be interested in these discussions. This project is funded by the NYS Department of Health’s AIDS Institute to support NYS organizations who are members of the Network to improve their organizational-level LGBTQ+ and racial equity. While we welcome anyone to join us, we want to prioritize our Network organizations.

We chose these days/times because they do not conflict with any of the Network’s committee meetings. If you can’t make any meeting, then please use our materials & agenda to make your own discussion group. And let us know about it!

That’s awesome! Please tag us @lgbtqplushealth.

We have purchased 15 copies of So You Want to Talk About Race from a local, woman owned bookstore, The Dog Eared Book. Network members can request copies of the books to be sent to their homes during registration. We also encourage people to check out copies from their local libraries, or to order the book from local, LGBTQ+, and/or BIPOC owned bookstores. The Libby application allows you to connect with your local library virtually and download eBooks.Finally, if you are someone who prefers listening to reading, So You Want to Talk About Race is available on Audible and Audiobooks.

We welcome people at all stages of their learning about how structural racism was built in our country and how it impacts black, indigenous, people of color today. We have a simple agenda for each meeting, which is outlined in the calendar events. Consider writing out your answers to the questions each week to be prepared. Also, we’re operating under shared agreements, so please see the Ground Rules (above in Series Information). We will do our best to be open to learning together, and we have 4 skilled co-facilitators to guide the conversations and help everyone in this process.

Yikes! Please drop us an email and we’ll get back to you.

Presentation from our Summer 2020 Series: antiracism_week1

We will post any PowerPoint presentations, links, or extra material here. If you can’t find something or if something is missing, please let us know!