Dancing on Live Embers

VISUALLY DYNAMIC, Dancing on Live Embers investigates how racism, White power, and privilege operate in the ordinary moments of organizational life. It holds up familiar workplace interactions for scrutiny, and looks for openings to advance racial equity and justice. Through stories, it offers concrete examples of racial justice work by a range of experienced activists.

This is a hands-on book for people who are trying to create more equitable organizations-front-line staff, managers, administrators, political leaders, union and community educators and activists, boards of directors, teachers, human resource staff, equity officers, and university and college faculty. This book is one of ten selected for a 2007 Myers Outstanding Book Award presented by the Gustavus Myers Centre for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America. (www.myerscenter.org).

“Combining theory, personal critical reflection and hands-on tools, this book is a powerful resource both for understanding how racism pervades and how to act against racism (and for equity) in organizational contexts. 

The core of Dancing on Live Embers is divided into three key “phases” of anti-racism work in organizations: the phase Getting Beyond Training is about moving effectively past the characteristic crisis response to creating an anti-racist process; the next phase is about applying anti-racist practices to organizational behaviours, structures and processes which leads to the third phase of staying committed to the goal of racial equity in the face of contradictions, set-backs and other hurdles.

Each section centers around a few brief scenarios and one substantive case study from which theory and practice are articulated. The next section takes things up a level from the context of single organizations to that of national organizations and coalitions. And, to round things off, the authors courageously document their own dialogue as a racialized woman and a white woman working together both in the various experiences recounted in this book and in the writing of the book itself. It is this dialogue that makes the book exceptional in the field. 

Written by Chris Cavanagh. Chris Cavanagh is an educator, storyteller, writer, artist, co-founder of the Catalyst Centre popular education worker co-op and, frequent rabble reviewer