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

Alternate Activity 1: Central Casting

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Copy Handout 2 for all participants.

Description of Activity

Introduce the activity using these or similar words:

You are a film producer making a new film about a multicultural community of people living in a cosmopolitan or urban area. I will read aloud a description of a certain type of character, and you are invited to write down on your worksheet the type of person that comes to mind to fill that role. Think about physical characteristics as you create your character, such as skin color, age, fashion, body type, height, and so forth. Your contribution will help us locate the appropriate character for the role. It is important that you speak the first response that comes to mind, even if it is politically incorrect!

Distribute Handout 2 and pens/pencils and invite participants to work in silence and individually. Read each character description aloud, and allow no more than one minute after each one for participants to complete the worksheet. Do not allow too much time for measured thinking, but rather encourage participants to make split-second assumptions. The more quickly you proceed, the better.

Choose five of the descriptions to discuss in the large group. For each of the five, invite two volunteers to read their responses aloud to the whole group, explaining that the exercise is intended to point out that we all have subconsciously absorbed stereotypical images about categories of people, whether or not we consciously agree with those images. After the stereotypes are named, lead a discussion with the following questions:

  • When was it easy to label your person?
  • When was it difficult? What internal forces did you struggle against in writing that term down (for example, "political correctness")?
  • Are stereotypes based on truth? Why or why not?
  • What role does conscious or unconscious stereotyping play in determining who feels welcome in your congregation?