What is the UNtraining?

The UNtraining is a provocative and compassionate approach to help people discover how to work together in extraordinary ways to end our collusion with racism and all forms of oppression. The UNtraining provides insights and tools for all levels of experience and activism to white people and people of color.

The UNtraining groups for people of color and white people share a common foundational curriculum based on the teachings of Rita Shimmin and developed by Rita Shimmin and Robert/ Ro Horton:

  • Multi-dimensional Consciousness - Developing the capacity and ability to hold more than one reality simultaneously
  • Core Issue - Exploring the survival patterns which control our world view, and which determine how we relate to ourselves, other individuals and groups; and whether or not we have power and confidence to impact our world.
  • Basic Goodness – Accessing the quality of belonging and love that is our basic self and being able to choose this spacious self to hold our conditioned sense of shame and fear. Basic goodness is the doorway to mutli-dimensional consciousness.
  • Tracking - Techniques for applying awareness to our social conditioning and core issue.
  • Working with Intensity – Accessing our entire range of feelings and expression with awareness and with an honoring of our specific cultural intensity caps.
  • Inner World Work – Working within ourselves to increase awareness and acceptance of our own internal conflicts and gaining facilitative expertise with these conflicts so we do not project them onto others.
  • Advanced Facilitator Training – Ongoing training for UNtraining Teachers

Multi-dimensional Facilitation

The UNtraining is essentially a facilitation training that offers a path of practices and activities that increase awareness of self, relational interactions, and field phenomena. From the foundational curriculum, each group diverges on their own path to discover the deep conditioning of their specific group and how it overlaps and intersects with the conditioning they receive from the dominant culture, which in the United States supports the notion of white supremacy.

UNtraining groups generally engage in the following path:

Two facilitators - Facilitators are trained UNtraining teachers, trained UNtraining teaching assistants, and teachers invited from other disciplines.
Minimum number of participants in a group is 6.
Six-month commitment to work together.

Progressive cycles of training are available.

Six monthly meetings constitute a cycle of training. The meetings are 3-5 hours duration, totaling 18 to 30 hours of training per cycle. Participants must start with the first phase. Groups are heavily experiential, with didactic, contextual material also delivered. The UNtraining also produces invitation-only events and an introductory public workshop.

The UNtraining currently offers the following tracks:

UNtraining White Liberal Racism - currently offering groups online. We have also offered in-person groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, Quad Cities/ Chicago, and Western Massachusetts. We expect to offer these again as staff availability and health protocols permit. 
People of Color UNtraining - a blend of different ethnicities and races, online and in SF Bay Area only
Advanced Facilitator Training

How The UNtraining Got Started

In 1989, chronic health problems led Ro to become involved with Process Oriented Psychology (aka Process Work). They studied Process Work for the next 7 years. The most significant event for them during that time was meeting Rita Shimmin at a five-week Process Work intensive with a diverse group of participants from 13 different countries. Rita was there checking out whether or not she would recommend Process Work to the African American community. She and Ro became friends. Eventually Rita also became their teacher and mentor, and the catalyst for founding The UNtraining.

Frequently at Process Work events, after large group processes around racism, the people of color would ask the white people to work on racism themselves. At one point Ro, being a typical white liberal, asked Rita, "Why doesn't somebody do that?" Her reply was, "Why don't you do that?" This was the first seed.

As Ro's relationship with Rita deepened and they worked on racism in the context of their friendship, Ro didn't want what they were learning from Rita to end with them. Also, Ro was struck by the enormity of the work that people of color have to do to have white people as friends. Ro began adapting what they'd learned from Rita and translating how she worked with them into exercises and ways of working with other white people. The result was The UNtraining.

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Who We Are

Ro Horton

Co-founder and co-director of the UNtraining. Ro has a passionate interest in undoing racism and a belief that this process begins with oneself. Ro has been working with Rita Shimmin since 1994, studying her approach to multi-dimensionality which she calls Racism, Diversity and Risk of the Self. The UNtraining is based on their work together. Ro studied Process Work with Arnold Mindell and has practiced Tibetan Buddhism for more than 30 years.

Ro has led on-going private UNtraining groups since 1995. They train and mentor UNtraining teachers, and continue to develop the curriculum. Ro has made presentations and led workshops at numerous schools and organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including JFK University, Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, San Joaquin Delta College, Berkeley Psychotherapy Institute, Starr King School for the Ministry and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. They also work with individual clients around racism and social issues.

Ro was born as Robert in 1956 and grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts. They left home shortly after high school to attend the Naropa Institute summer program in Boulder, Colorado, where they studied Buddhism and poetics and began practicing meditation. Ro moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1976 to study with poet Diane di Prima. and has lived there ever since.

Between 1976 and the founding of The UNtraining in 1994, Ro followed a path that included certification in printing from San Francisco City College, where they later taught computer classes; owning and operating a desktop publishing business in downtown San Francisco; and pursuing a lifelong interest in music by starting several experimental bands. Ro was active in tenant's rights issues in the early 1980s. They became a meditation instructor and taught beginning and advanced classes at the local Dharmadhatu (now Shambhala) centers. Although The UNtraining is not "buddhist," the awareness and compassion fostered by meditation practice are a key part of Ro's approach to working with themself and others. In addition to leading The UNtraining, Ro continues to create music. Ro is married to Janet Carter.

Rita Shimmin

Rita is co-founder of the UNtraining and a teacher of multi-dimensional consciousness. Her work, called Racism, Diversity and Risk of the Self, is the source and inspiration for the UNtraining. She continues to support the process of its development and acts as on-going mentor to leaders in the UNtraining. Rita leads the People of Color groups.

Rita has been a teacher, trainer and coach for more than 40 years. She has worked within educational institutions, at all levels -- with kindergarteners and university management teams -- and with business entities, including community-based non-profits and national investment firms. She has co-directed the Bay Area Black Women's Health Project and served as Interim Executive Director for Lyon-Martin Women's Health Services in San Francisco.

Rita recently retired after 30 plus years of non-profit work, the last 17 in leadership at the GLIDE Foundation, a faith-based social services agency in San Francisco. She continues as an organizational consultant, teaching the development of multi-dimensional consciousness through group programs and individual coaching. She is available through referral only.

Rita's work is fundamentally about people. She has coached individuals, couples, families, line staff, managers and senior executives. She has work-shopped and lectured groups of 200, small groups, groups that were all white, all people of color, groups of mixed race, ethnicities, and class backgrounds; groups of all ages and all sexual orientations. She has worked with people who have the responsibility to hold society together and those who are driven to deconstruct it; with happy people and depressed people, people identified as "crazy" and people identified as "normal."

Rita teaches people to define their sphere of influence and their work in the world, and to enrich that work with new tools, strategies, supportive relationships and increased capacity to play and create.

Janet Carter

Janet has been a participant in the UNtraining since it began. As co-director with Ro, her focus is outreach, communications and program management. Janet is a writer, historical researcher and educator. She is currently writing a book called Good Little White Girl, investigating her personal, family and cultural heritage as an exploration of how the "white training" is handed down. She has taught Phase 1, Phase 2, and facilitates Phase 3 of UNtraining White Liberal Racism. Janet also leads writing workshops to explore whiteness. Check out her blog Good Little White Girl.

The Groups

UNtraining White Liberal Racism

Meet the Teachers

People of Color UNtraining

Meet the Teachers

Chinese UNtraining

Meet the Teachers

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