Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building the World We Dream About for Young Adults: An Anti-racist Multicultural Program

Activity 2: Naming Your Identity

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Participant journals or paper, 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

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-occupation, gender, spouse/partner, ethnicity/race, musician, swimmer, etc.-that, if taken away from you, you'd "miss what being human is for you."

Ask: What is the difference between something that "makes you human" and something that is merely a characteristic, habit, or activity? In other words, what makes for a "real or authentic identity?" Share two examples to clarify:

  • A person who plays guitar considers it an enjoyable hobby, but not part of identity. Another considers being a guitarist part of their identity, an important part of what makes them who they are.
  • A person with several different ethnic backgrounds, including German, English, and Norwegian, recalls the immigration stories and ethnic cooking of his Norwegian grandparents and considers Norwegian ethnicity a part of identity. However, he does not consider the other ethnicities particularly important to identity.

Ask participants to take five minutes to write down elements of their identity or hold them in your mind.