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Opening (10 minutes), Workshop 9: Ignore-ance of White Identity

In "Building the World We Dream About," a Tapestry of Faith program

Preparation for Activity

  • Practice reading the chalice lighting aloud.
  • Review participant evaluations from the previous workshop. Discuss with your co-facilitators any patterns or concerns that have emerged. Prepare to briefly share feedback with the group, while keeping confidentiality.

Description of Activity

Light the chalice or invite a participant to light it while you read these words from Harlon Dalton:

Why do most White people not see themselves as having a race? In part, race obliviousness is the natural consequence of being in the driver's seat. We are all much more likely to disregard attributes that seldom produce a ripple than we are those that subject us to discomfort. For example, a Reform Jewish family living in, say, Nacogdoches, Texas, will be more acutely aware of its religious/ethnic heritage than will the Baptist family next door. On the other hand, if that same family moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, its Jewishness would probably be worn more comfortably. For most Whites, race—or more precisely, their own race—is simply part of the unseen, unproblematic background.

Share feedback from the previous workshop evaluations. Acknowledge shared patterns and observations to give participants a sense of how people in the group are thinking and feeling about the program. Be conscientious about maintaining confidentiality. One technique is to say, "Some people felt... .," rather than saying "One of you felt... .". If time allows, invite participants to share one-minute observations or new insights they may have gained since the last workshop.

Remind participants of the spirit of their covenant.

Share the goals of this workshop.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.

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