Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Partnership for Latino Success, Anti-racism-Study and teaching, Healing circles, Social change-Psychological aspects, Racism-United States, Dialogue-Social aspects, Communication and culture, Multicultural education, Circle, Peacemaking, Circles, Restorative justice, Microaggressions, Shame, Pedagogy, Social justice


This study was undertaken to discover whether Circle could be used to foster individual and collective transformation regarding issues of racism. The director for the Partnership for Latino Success designed and implemented a dialogue series called "Changing the World by Changing Ourselves" for individuals to engage in a Circle journey about racism in daily life, relationships, and the community. The dialogues focused on microaggressions, relearning relationships and engaging in meaningful collaborations, and removing shame and blame from social change efforts. This researcher engaged in the dialogue series as a participant/observer and interviewed eight individuals who participated in at least two of the three dialogues. Based on the findings, a shame-free environment enables individuals to share and listen to stories and their subsequent reaction to stories, which increases their awareness of participation in microaggressions. The mechanics of Circle encourage individuals to suspend reactions to someone's story, reflect, and choose behaviors based on one's values and the collective goals. This fosters a sense of personal empowerment and hope to build connection across seemingly disparate life experiences, and encourages individuals to grow out of racism. Participants are now utilizing Circle and components from the dialogue series in the context of their home, clinical work with individuals and families, as a strategy of organizational development, community organizing, and anti-racism efforts. These are a few examples of how Circle can be used to grow out of racism and work to improve life in one's home, work and community.




80 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 73-75)