We need to approach racism as it exists in our lives today, and not as an exercise in studying history. We need to share our experiences and viewpoints, and listen with open hearts and minds to each other, especially when we disagree. We need to avoid thinking that we have the right answer, the only correct perspective, or that there is any. — Ruth Alatorre, in Bringing Gifts, a publication of the Latino/a Unitarian Universalist Networking Alliance (LUUNA)
This workshop introduces a technique called “serial testimony” to provide a structured way for people to tell their own stories of mattering and marginality and reflect on the connections between their own personal experiences and the experiences of People of Color and other people marginalized by race or ethnicity in their faith communities. Serial testimony is a simple technique: In small reflection groups, participants are invited to speak one at a time of their own experience while others listen without comment or discussion. Under other names (Quaker dialogue, Claremont dialogue), this technique has been used for many years, particularly in settings where the participants’ perspectives diverge so radically they have difficulty hearing each other.
The serial testimony technique is simple in concept, but requires careful preparation. Determine the composition of reflection groups in advance, arrange for appropriate meeting spaces, and be ready to guide participants as they learn to use this technique. As the reflection groups converse and during the large group discussions that follow, pay attention to stories in which an individual or a group describes a situation as “marginalizing” while others describe it as “mattering.”
Before leading this workshop, review the accessibility guidelines in the program Introduction under Integrating All Participants.
This workshop will:
- Introduce the serial testimony technique and provide initial experiences with using the technique
- Engage participants in deeper conversations about assumptions and values about race/racism.
- Use the serial testimony technique to share their stories of mattering and marginality
- Make connections between their own stories and the stories of Unitarian Universalists People of Color and others marginalized by race or ethnicity introduced in Workshop 1
- Begin to make connections between the mattering and marginality stories of participants' lives and "welcoming" in their congregation.