Decentering the Dominant Narrative

20-minute Spotlight Sessions

Day 2

Session Code: Spotlight 7
When: April 11, 2018
Location/Room: Marketplace Spotlight Stage
Level: Introductory
Track: Social Responsibility
Presenter: Caroline Belden, The Winters Group, Inc.


In our society, dominant groups (i.e., white, male, citizen, able-bodied, etc.) have a history of “othering” non-dominant groups, sometimes by perpetuating their social and cultural norms instead of being inclusive, and sometimes by aggressively, or even violently, defending them.

Decentering the dominant narrative, the topic of this Spotlight session, is a step toward correcting this inequity. Decentering the dominant narrative compels us to better care for those whose marginalized identities only further marginalize their feelings of grief, anger or fear in times of trauma. Decentering means asking, “What does this mean for you?” rather than, “What does this mean for me?”

This session will address three key points: (1) the problem of “othering,” (2) the necessity of active listening, and (3) the choice of shifting our focus toward non-dominant narratives in the pursuit of equity.

How we listen to one another’s needs, hopes, and fears affects if and how we demand that our institutions and organizations listen as well. It affects whether we notice those who aren’t getting what they deserve. It affects whether we are allies or simply bystanders.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Acknowledge and correct the (often unintentional) mindset of “othering” from dominant or normative perspectives.
  • Actively listen to the perspectives of people who identify with non-dominant groups in order to broaden one’s own perspective.
  • Center the non-dominant narrative when discussing and creating frameworks for and paths toward equity within institutions and organizations.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®
2211 Riverside Ave, CB 54
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 373-5994

Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
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