Black Trumps Robert’s Rules – Part One
We who are Black need to develop our own set of rules and procedures under which to organizationally function and operate. The basic foundation should be the use of ‘Black’ common sense and ‘Black’ respect.
‘Black’ common sense entails an appreciation for the enthusiasm and emotions that can arise in an organization, group, meeting, conference or any other gathering. It means using flexible procedures that fit the gathering and attendees as well as those who are actively participating. ‘Black’ common sense calls for using overstanding whenever needed. It means flexibility and the ability to calmly and satisfactorily resolve any dispute or disagreement that may warrant a resolution.
‘Black’ respect includes welcoming, listening to and hearing the input of all who are present. It means allowing the participants to, in fact, participate. ‘Black’ respect means paying attention to the speaker and speakers as well as acknowledging input as common sense leads US to do. ‘Black’ respect means flexibility in allowing the time needed for the participants to express themselves. It means showing patience and making accommodations as called for and whenever appropriate.
BlackParentSpeaks has chosen to blog on the subject of ‘Black’ organizational meetings and gatherings because we Blacks need to establish our own ’Black’ guidelines under which to operate. We should not continue to blindly follow Robert’s Rules of Order or any other blueprint laid out for the use of others. Instead, we need to glean that which is relevant and useful as we create and recreate our own set of rules and procedures — our BLACKprint — under which to function and operate.
DISCLAIMER: BlackParentSpeaks does appreciate and value the work put into Robert’s Rules of Order by ‘White’ Henry Robert, a military man and the son of Reverend Joseph Thomas Robert who was the first president of ‘Black’ Morehouse College. However, it is more than obvious that much of Robert’s Rules of Order does not optimize or fit the needs of our Black community.
The workframe for any organization and group or official body should include both common sense and respect. If a ‘successful’ meeting is the desired outcome, we can effectively run our meetings with overstanding enthusiasm and appreciation for the passion that may naturally ensue. If a meeting for the sake of having a meeting is the desired outcome, however, there is no need to change current procedures that employ Robert’s Rules of Order or stringent timetables that permit little or no time for genuine participation.
Community meetings that are ‘intended’ to be successful should always allow time for getting together before the meeting begins. There should be snacks and drinks whenever possible. Drinks should include juices and water and possibly coffee, tea, cocoa and whatever else is decided upon by the meeting conveners. If tea or coffee is available, both sugar and sugar substitutes should also be available. Because of food allergies and more, peanuts should NEVER be included in the snacks. Likewise, pork and pork products are ‘no-nos’ for obvious reasons.
Again, the NO SERVE list should include products containing peanut butter and pork ingredients as well as peanuts.
Whether this is a formal or informal meeting and whether it be a first meeting or not, there should always be time allowed for audience participation…. How much time, of course, will depend on time restraints and deadlines. It is important that the audience know that they are more than observers and that they are truly welcomed to participate – even if audience participation is limited.
In terms of the meeting itself, there should be an agenda – ample supplies of the agenda should be available for the participants. Extra copies of the agenda should also be available for audience members and observers. Depending on the size of the organizational body and its capabilities, the agenda can also be made available on-line.
The agenda for the meeting should allow time for ‘new business’. There should also be a place for general discussion items which allow for participation by all present. Suggestions for future consideration and action should be listened to and discussed.
It is vital that the convener of the meeting NOT be so sensitive as to take the words exchanged in the meeting on a personal level. The convener must be composed and flexible if the convener is to run an effective and successful meeting.
The convener sets the tone for the meeting and gathering. The convener should always address Black men, Black women, and others with respect. Men are adults and women are adults and the meeting convener should always be cognizant of– and a purveyor of — that fact.
The convener should NEVER refer to a woman as a “girl” – nor should the convener ever refer to a man as a “boy”. Men and women are adults; they must be respectfully addressed and discussed as adults by the meeting convener. Regardless of the words used by others in attendance, the meeting convener must always respectfully address men as men and women as women.
Once the meeting is called to order, folk should be thanked for coming out to the meeting and, if another meeting is already scheduled, folk should be told the time and place, etc. of the next meeting. Note: A supply of printed notices announcing the details of the next meeting should also be available.
During the opening of the meeting, the convener should point out the exit ways and the locations of the bathrooms. The convener should introduce himself/herself; and, if there is a panel, the members of the panel as appropriate. If ‘particular’ people are in the audience, they can be acknowledged.
Recognizing the serious nature of the Minutes, a recording secretary can be a person already on staff or the recording secretary can be someone who is hired or contracted for that purpose alone. Whatever the situation employed, the recording secretary must be allowed the time and space to do the job required to produce both the unofficial ‘draft’ Minutes and the finalized ‘approved’ official Minutes.
The unofficial ‘draft’ Minutes of the meeting should be prepared and available for review and editing within 1 to 2 weeks following the gathering. The recording secretary should use both the written notes taken at the event and the audio recording to prepare the unofficial ‘draft’ Minutes that are submitted for review and editing. The audio recording will help in verifying and clarifying possible confusion or uncertainties.
The finalized and ‘approved’ official Minutes of the meeting should always contain the date of the meeting, the beginning and ending time of the meeting, the names of the convener(s) and Board members ‘officially’ present, and other identifying information as appropriate. ‘Official’ decisions and approved and adopted resolutions should be easily identifiable and clearly stated in the finalized and ‘approved’ official Minutes. Whether the decisions made are unanimous, majority, or by general consensus should be spelled out in the finalized ‘approved’ official Minutes.
The above ‘BLACKprint’ is Part One of “Black Trumps Robert’s Rules”.
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