Friday, August 6, 2021

ATSA’s Commitment to Addressing Race, Power and Privilege (RPP) – Where are We Now?

By Judith Zatkin and Joan Tabachnick 

In 2018, the Board of Directors of ATSA made a deep commitment to addressing the issue of race, power, and privilege.  In their public statement, the board formally “recognized that race and privilege impact ATSA’s work and the work of ATSA members.  Furthermore, the board voted to ensure that ATSA commits to incorporate privilege and race issues into all of its strategic goals.”  

This statement came through the work of ATSA’s Prevention Committee and followed a survey which found that:

- 87% of respondents agreed that issues of RPP had an impact on perpetration, survivor’s healing process, and prevention.  

- just over three quarters (76%) agreed that ATSA should address RPP.  

Since this initial statement, each of ATSA’s committees also made a commitment to look at how RPP affect their mission and its’ implementation.    

Over the last two+ years, the Prevention Committee workgroup met weekly and through our work, conducted more than one survey, developed a series of infographics based on what we heard to be disseminated through social media, hosted a conversation at last year’s ATSA conference, and most recently, hosted a series of six meetings with board members/representatives from each of ATSA’s committees to ensure that each committee has begun to incorporate these issues (race, power, and privilege) into all of their committee work.  

The six sessions developed by ATSA’s Prevention workgroup on RPP and attended by the representation of ATSA’s broad array of Committees provided a strong foundation for incorporating RPP throughout ATSA.  We were happily surprised that most of ATSA’s committees had followed the board’s stated commitment and hosted a number of serious conversations about the impact of RPP on their particular area of expertise.   Much of the conversation was captured through an artist’s rendering of the discussion.  It was helpful to vividly see the challenges and the opportunities organized and laid out for us as we walked through the discussions.  It highlighted how we have to step up to the challenge of what language we want to use, how to address the concerns that we have heard from some members about this new direction, and we began to consider how our organization could be more inclusive and encourage a broader range of representation.  Some key concepts for organizational change were also discussed, bringing in concepts of how to overcome barriers to uncomfortable conversations and rather than talking about “safe spaces” to use the concept of “brave spaces.”  For us on the Prevention Committee, it was also exciting to think about how over ten years ago, the ATSA board made a commitment to integrate prevention into all of ATSA and we have done just that around prevention.  The board is now poised to do a similar initiative and commitment around ATSA’s response to the issues of race, power, and privilege.  

These six sessions began that deeper commitment.  Through these six sessions, the Committees shared a deep commitment to this organizational change and offered many ideas and suggestions for ATSA’s next steps, and voiced a strong consensus that the ATSA Board of Directors needs to take a role in this process in a sustainable, specific, and permanent way.  A proposal will be presented to the ATSA Board of Directors meeting in August with the specific request of creating a limited time, board led the working group that will: 

- Develop Pillars/Guidelines of RPP for ATSA.  These Pillars/Guidelines will establish a clear direction for ATSA and ATSA committees as we integrate RPP into the work we do.  

- Identify and bring forward the language and clear definitions that will be used.

- Offer specific recommendations for the next steps based upon the ideas shared to date.   

- Offer specific recommendations for the ideal structure moving this integration of RPP into ATSA.

- Ensure diverse representation (including international voices) on the final BOD Working Group

We hope that from this next ATSA board meeting, we will create a time-limited working group to address this list of tasks.  We are so thankful for the commitment of ATSA to addressing these issues in our work.  We would like to acknowledge the ATSA members who have been meeting weekly for the last few years to make this happen.  In addition to the authors of this article, we want to acknowledge a fantastic group of individuals including Charles Flinton, Tyffani Dent, Ariel Berman, Jannine Hebert, Joan Tabachnick, Maia Christopher, and Aniss Benelmouffok.  

For more information about the infographics and what ATSA has done to date, go to  

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