Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Workshop 7, Handout 2, Not Somewhere Else, But Here
- Workshop 7, Taking It Home
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Have a few copies of Workshop 7, Handout 2 for anyone who did not receive it in the previous workshop.
- Copy the questions from Workshop 7, Taking It Home, on newsprint, and post:
- When and how did you learn about race?
- If you are a Person of Color, when and how did you learn about what it means to be a Person of Color? What early messages did you receive?
- If you are a person from another racially or ethnically marginalized group, when did you learn about what it means to be from that group? What early messages did you receive?
- If you are a White person, when and how did you learn what it means to be White? What early messages did you receive?
Description of Activity
Invite participants to move into groups of three or four to share their memories of early messages about race. Call attention to the questions from Workshop 7, Taking It Home that you have posted on newsprint. If participants seem eager to share their stories, no further introduction is necessary. If not, you might share this portion of Parker's essay from Workshop 7, Handout 2 to frame the conversation:
... In practice, I discover myself to be deeply attached to being "innocent," guilt-free, good. If I glimpse any blood on my hands, I will react defensively to preserve my identity and fend off the painful experience of shame that I associate with being exiled from the community that I depend on for my survival and affirmation. Or I may attack myself, viciously trying to deny or destroy that in myself that does not conform to an image of innocent goodness.
This piety of innocence preoccupies me and other whites. I strive to assure my goodness by assuring myself that I am all good, "all-white," and blameless. Conversely, it makes me highly reactionary if I am blamed or confronted with complicity in violence-for my sense of goodness has been constructed on the suppression and exile of my capacity to do harm, as well as on the suppression of offending feelings of love and connection that, I learned early on, didn't belong in the garden.
One becomes "white," and this "whiteness" is a split in the psyche, a loss of consciousness, a numbing to the reality of what one has seen and felt and knows. This alienated state of mind is reinforced by religious imagery that sanctions "not knowing" and curses "knowing."