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

Activity 2: Naming Your Identity

Activity time: 55 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Paper or participant journals and pens/pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Set out paper and pens/pencils.
  • Write this quote on newsprint and post:

Each of us has an original way of being human: each person has his or her own "measure." There is a certain way of being human that is my way. I am called upon to live my life in this way, and not in imitation of anyone else's life... This notion gives a new importance to being true to myself. If I am not, I miss the point of my life; I miss what being human is for me. -Charles Taylor, cultural philosopher

  • Write these questions on newsprint, but do not post:
    • How did you learn that this aspect of your identity was important to you?
    • Why would you feel "less human" if that were taken away? What is the deeper meaning behind that element?

Description of Activity

Read the posted quote aloud. Allow 10-15 seconds of silence at the close of the reading.

Explain the activity using these or similar words:

Think about an aspect of your identity-parent, sibling, ethnicity/race, musician, swimmer, etc.-that, if taken away from you, you'd "miss what being human is for you." Write down those identity elements or hold them in your mind. You will be invited to share yours in a small group reflection. You will have five minutes for thinking and writing.

Invite participants to form groups of three, and post the questions. Invite participants to take 30 minutes to each share one item on their lists, responding to the questions. Notify the small groups at the 10- and 20-minute intervals so everyone has a chance to share.

Invite participants to return to the larger group. Ask: What is the difference between something that "makes you human" and something that is a "characteristic" or "habit"? In other words, what makes for a "real or authentic identity"? Allow about 15 minutes for large group discussion.

Note to Facilitator (do not share with participants):

Possible responses include:

  • The element is connected to places, people, or significant life experiences such as where I grew up, important people I interacted with, rites of passage, etc.
  • The element represents a joyful time in my life when I felt whole or complete.
  • "XYZ" is important to me, and I have been oppressed because of that identity.