Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building the World We Dream About: An Anti-racism Multicultural Program

Activity 1: Filling the Void of Missing Voices

Activity time: 75 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • As explained in the program Introduction, build relationships with people in your faith community who identify as People of Color and other people marginalized by racial or ethnic identity. Invite the people you want to serve as guest panelists, well before for this workshop.
  • At least two or three weeks prior to the workshop, give panelists Handout 1, The State of Racial/Ethnic Relations at _____ [name of your congregation]. Invite panelists to come prepared to share their responses to some or all of the categories and to offer as many examples as possible. Build safety for your panelists by affirming that the group is ready to hear "tough truths" that often go unsaid.
  • Copy Handout 1,The State of Racial/Ethnic Relations at _____ [name of your congregation]
  • Optional: If your congregation has so few people from marginalized racial or ethnic groups that this conversation might be awkward or seems inappropriate, broaden the conversation by including people from beyond your congregational walls who belong to marginalized racial or ethnic groups in your community. NOTE: If your panelists will come from outside the congregation, rephrase Handout 1, The State of Racial/Ethnic Relations at _____ [name of your congregation] so the statements reflect the broader context of your community or municipality. For example, instead of focusing on how persons in the congregation "are represented in positions of power and authority," consider that issue as it relates to your town.
  • Optional: Provide participants with the prompt questions suggested below, as a handout or posted on newsprint.

Description of Activity

This activity invites "missing voices" to offer their perspective about the status and experience of People of Color and other people marginalized by racial or ethnic identity in the context of the congregation and/or community.

Distribute Handout 1, The State of Racial/Ethnic Relations at _____ [name of your congregation].

Invite panelists to share their responses to the handout, giving examples as they go along. Panelists might respond to each statement on the handout about which they have an opinion. Ask participants to hold their questions until the end of the panelists' presentations; invite and encourage them to jot down their burning questions. This practice will ensure that invited guests have time to share their thoughts. Include the "Practice of Silence" during your panel presentation: Ask panelists and workshop participants to sit in silence for a moment after each presentation to provide a space to reflect on the words shared.

After all panelists have presented, invite questions from workshop participants. Ensure that questions from workshop participants are questions that come from a place of curiosity and "invitation to learn" as opposed to arguing the validity of a person's experience. Be ready to intervene if questions become inappropriate. Encourage participants to consider the source of their doubt ("Why is this response troubling me?") if a statement or response strikes them as unexpected, odd, or irrational. You might offer these prompts to help participants frame questions for the panelists:

  • What would happen if . . . ?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • What would you like to see being done differently?
  • What have you learned about racism that you think we should learn?
  • Which is most important... A, B, or C?
  • How did that experience challenge or affirm you?
  • What key insight would you want us to walk away with?
  • What will it take for people who share your experiences and perspectives to thrive in this setting?

Close the discussion, inviting participants to journal for 5-10 minutes. Suggest they identify questions they would like to pursue further. Make paper and pen available to your invited guests.