Key Theme #3 from the Anti-Bias Survey of ACPE Members

Filed under: AC21

In preparation for the 2021 ACPE Annual Conference Creating Room to Breathe, ACPE has identified themes from the Anti-Bias survey of ACPE members. In the following weeks, ACPE will be publishing the key themes that emerged from the Anti-Bias survey results.

Key Theme #3 Biases are evident in our education processes …

… Even though we self-report valuing diversity and diverse voices in our curricula and education approaches.

  • 90% of us report that the value of diversity is reflected in our work 
  • 82% of us report that we work intentionally to develop inclusive practices 
  • 92% report that we have taken steps to ensure that our curricula address issues and forms of prejudice, bias, and discrimination 

 With these affirmations, it’s painful to read the qualitative feedback in our survey, which tells a different story:

ACPE continues to be an organization that favors western culture and Christocentric theology. The resources offered at my center emphasizes a European American approach for spiritual assessments/interventions. In this way, I found it extremely challenging to introduce a non-dominant cultural perspective without feeling the burden to teach my educators how to support/supervise me with respect to my values and learning needs.   

When I was going through the process, I consistently had to talk about being an African American woman and Euro-American women and men who were my peers in the process NEVER had to answer those questions or engage their culture. In an association that claims inclusivity, I had to work twice as hard emotionally and cognitively to address areas that whites did not.  

The most disappointing experiences of bias that I had occurred during certification. I—based on my appearance, gender, and race—was repeatedly questioned about how I use my “seductiveness” and sexual attractiveness in pastoral care and supervision by male colleagues in positions higher than my own. This even occurred in the committee setting, where they had the power to make decisions about my certification based on my responses. A female supervisor, early in my process, also commented about my body, wondering aloud if my “pastoral cleavage” could be distracting (though I was always appropriately professionally attired). These experiences diminished my sense of safety as a student and later a CE in this community. They have contributed to my commitment to unbiased, culturally humble, anti-racist supervisory work.  

I experienced discrimination and racism during my theory papers process. I particularly recall when I used a Latin American theologian and theorist in my education paper who was unknown to the readers. I used this theorist's writing in Spanish and his translated work to English, clarified the theory and how I used it in my work with my students. When my paper didn't pass, I had a heated discussion with one of the readers who was not familiar with the theorist. I experienced discrimination in the ways in which my work from my social location (theory) was not welcomed by this reader because he was from a different context. This caused to change theorist for my paper rewrite. As a person of color and Latinx woman I felt that in order to move forward in my process I needed to compromise and give in into those who held the power within the ACPE accreditation process. This was my first systematic experience of racism within ACPE where my work and the wholeness of who I am as educator was denied and unwelcome.