This profile was prepared when Ron Chisom was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Ron developed a method for combating racism and founded the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISB) to teach it. This pioneered the Undoing Racism movement in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1980. His teachings became the backbone for the entire field of Undoing Racism and the PISB has become a major source for thousands of grassroots and institutional forays into empowering people without racism limiting their vision and effectiveness. With nearly 200,000 people trained in this perspective and methodology, PISB trainers go on-site to institutions and hold independent conferences to train participants in his framework.Ron’s method is based on the belief that unless people are actively trained in how to “undo” racism in themselves and their institutions, they will unconsciously perpetuate racism to the detriment of their greater goals. The PISB does not define racism in only its extreme forms—such as convictions about “white supremacy”. Instead, racism is most often unconscious, an automatic byproduct of living in a society where racism exists. Once people are able to pull this racism out of the shadows of their unconscious and deal with it consciously, they are able to work more genuinely across racial lines. In fact, most PISB graduates say that they are generally more self-aware in their dealings with all people, which breeds a stronger sense of personal integrity and ethical behavior.The PISB approach to community empowerment includes an analysis of the history and manifestations of individual, institutional, and cultural racism as well as the constructs of internalized racial superiority, internalized racial inferiority, and how individuals and institutions practice “gate-keeping” to keep information and decision-making power to themselves when it should belong to those who are most affected by those decisions.