GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Sometimes we all need a reset. For people who have things to learn or unlearn, NCCJ in Greensboro created a tool to help.
“The Reset is this online social justice program that is completely self-paced and email-based,” said Assistant Program Director MarÍa Perdomo.
Perdomo worked with some of NCCJ’s student ambassadors to come up with topics for The Reset.
“Someone who registers can immediately start getting almost daily emails that have a variety of social justice issues on them. So every day it’s sort of a new topic with various resources,” Perdomo said.
NCCJ has taught people how to have tough conversations for decades. But the demand for what they do soared in 2020. The Reset was a way to engage people without them having to hop on Zoom after they’ve already zoomed all day for work or school.
“What I try to push people to do with the Reset has been stop thinking about social justice as an area of expertise,” Perdomo said. “I think that puts a lot of pressure on people because we live in a society where perfectionism is valued and praised.”
She said just look at it as the stories of people from your community — what they’re experiencing and what you’re experiencing.
“There was one specific event my 9th grade year over Thanksgiving break where two high school boys released this horrible racist video,” said student ambassador and Northwest Guilford High School senior Sophia Carson.
We covered that incident. Carson, who’s now a senior, says the days that followed were difficult. The school invited NCCJ to do a session.
“We were just talking about our experiences. We were talking about the video and the effect it had had on our relationships with people at our school. That’s where I learned about Anytown,” Carson said.
That’s NCCJ’s residential summer camp where rising juniors and seniors spend time with young people of different backgrounds learning how to have and lead those tough conversations. Carson went as a rising sophomore.
“I went to Anytown, and I came back like ‘wow, I’m not alone. There are other people that want to have conversations and want to make our community more united and a better place overall,'” Carson said.
It’s not easy. But over the last two years, it’s become a priority.
“There was a need to have conversations. And The Reset allows people to have a space to learn more on their own time,” Carson added.
Perdomo says no matter how long someone has engaged in this work, it’s tough.
“You can work in this field for over 20 years, and you’ll still find yourself kind of tighten up sometimes. It is a skill that you have to continue to exercise,” she said.
That’s why before any conversation, they always make sure people know their goal is not to change anyone’s beliefs or to shame or guilt them. Cancel culture does not live here.
“Cancel culture pushes people farther and farther away,” Carson explained. “If we invite people in to have conversations without scolding them or threatening them with banishment from the community…because that’s really what cancel culture is.”
“I would say let that pressure go,” Perdomo added. “Just come as you are. Share what you want. Share your perspective. This is a safe space, open space for you to learn and communicate those things.”
And know you’re not going to change the world in one conversation.
“I think NCCJ is a great way to dip your toe in the water and begin to have these conversations,” Carson said. “You can have a conversation about race and racism, bias and bigotry with anyone in your life. It’s important to have those conversations with the people who are closest with you.”
The Reset sends emails daily to help guide you through the exercises and reflection time.