An interview with Thomas
Challenging "isms" with Thomas
So who needs multicultural training, anyway?
Thomas Griggs, a skilled leadership consultant
specializing in dealing with racism, sexism,
classism and other forms ("isms") of oppression,
says we all do.
"Who are the oppressors?" Griggs asked
rhetorically. "Every single one of us. We're all
wounded and we're all wounding [each
Griggs said it's not productive to rank order of
who is the most victimized in society.
"It's not useful to try and vote on which 'ism'
is the worst," he declared. "No one human being is
completely in a privileged group and no one human
being is completely in a victim group. Every human
is in both groups."
There are, however, a number of identifiable
"target groups" that have suffered through the ages
because of social elitism, including the homeless,
the uneducated, convicted felons, blacks, gays and
"As a white Christian heterosexual man I can
feel oppressed, offended and angry, but that
doesn't change the fact that for hundreds of
thousands of years men have dominated women."
Griggs said he consciously works at eliminating
racism and sexism in his own life but he still
engages in "unintentional acts."
"My homework is to account for 'unintentional
acts' as a non-target member," Griggs said.
("Non-target" refers to the traditionally more
privileged groups who are not the targets of
The cost of historical sexism to men is deep and
lethal, he noted. Referencing Warren Farrell's book
on The Myth of Male Power, Griggs added this:
"Similarly, the cost to whites of historical racism
is incalculable. As a result, we have a lifetime of
homework to undo the damaging programming we have
received in our own non-target groups. I would love
to see a group for whites as effective as MKP has
been for men."
As President and CEO of New Science Consulting
Group, Inc., Griggs is actively involved in
organizational change as well as social change. The
full-service management consulting firm is best
known for its unique on-site training programs in
Executive Leadership Development, Strategic
Partnering, and Cross-Cultural Teaming. With
offices in North Carolina and California, New
Science has done work for IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, SAS
and Nortel Networks.
In 1993, Griggs encountered The ManKind Project
"I saw in MKP an organization that was far more
ready to do serious multicultural work than any
organization I had seen before."
Griggs enumerated four reasons for MKP's
First, MKP was already an intra-cultural
"In the workshops I do, we separate people into
groups to work with folks like themselves," Griggs
noted. "MKP was already a group of men who had seen
the importance of helping one another."
Second, MKP encouraged "self'-focus."
"Here was a group where a man could look at
himself and his own behavior and not make
generalizations about the world."
Third, a connection to "emotional literacy."
"A man must be willing to recognize the basic
emotional families - mad, sad, scared, peaceful,
powerful and joyful - and know what they mean and
how to deal with them ... know how to take
responsibility for deep emotions in intense
Fourth, the ability to look at "shadow."
"Shadow is the part of me I'd really rather not
look at," he said, chuckling, "that same part
others can see anyway."
The timing must have been perfect for Griggs to
join MKP because a few years later, following his
facilitation of a local Center's leadership
retreat, he was invited to work with the
International MKP Executive Committee. He then
attended and facilitated every Executive Committee
meeting for the next two years.
"Some experienced members said the organization
was threatened with extinction, or at least a
serious split, during a time of dramatic expansion
and reorganization," Griggs recalled.
Griggs described the problem of two influential
approaches to leadership within MKP. Without naming
names, Griggs assigned one style the "Corporate
Non-Profit" label and the other the "Charismatic
"The warring forces at the time were just
convinced they were right and the other group was
out of touch," he continued. "In a ritual process,
we had senior representatives of the two cultures
honor each others' strengths and weaknesses."
After successfully diffusing the conflict, the
MKP Executive Committee asked Griggs to use the
same model to help MKP reach out to all men in a
world-wide multicultural program. At their request
Griggs drew up a proposal to identify and initially
train 30 men from around the world as a
Multicultural Resource Team to lead MKP's
At the same time, a multicultural leadership
training track began under the banner of
Organization and Community Leadership (OCL). The
OCL training has now been attended by more than 400
people from MKP and the Women Within Community (a
sister branch of MKP).
Griggs' work has had an enormous influence on
many leaders within MKP including Bob Tuggle.
Tuggle is involved in developing the
multi-cultural program nationwide. He has
participated in four OCL workshops and now conducts
multi-cultural trainings in small group
In a conversation with A Man Overboard, Tuggle
spoke of his "internalized oppressions" - one of
the insights gained from OCL.
"When I can see better how someone else
oppresses me," Tuggle said, "I can see how I do
that to myself."
As a bi man in a straight world, Tuggle said he
is learning to be more comfortable with
"I have chosen not to wear an earring at work
because it just felt a little too 'gay,'" he said.
"I don't talk about my partner because it paints me
as gay. To a big degree, the reason I am not rising
to my own power is because I have agreed to play
the game the same way the non-target group
(heterosexuals) wants me to in order to make them
Tuggle said his OCL involvement has helped him
make more clear decisions and choices in his
"It (OCL) makes me evaluate those
[shadow] pieces of myself," he concluded.
"And the first thing I do is to empower myself to
NOT act as if there is something wrong with
Sounds like multi-cultural training could be
beneficial for every man - everywhere.
For more information contact:
New Science Consulting Group,Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
MKP Multicultural Resource Team: Darryl Moment,
Visions, Inc.: Visions-inc.com
© 2005 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Baer, an award-winning playwright for A
Lyons Tale is also a newspaper
journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in
magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first
book released this month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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