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

Activity 1: Culture and Identity

Activity time: 45 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A computer with Internet access, and a large monitor or a digital projector
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Paper and pens or pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Preview the video, The Influence of U.S. Culture on Racial/Ethnic Identity Development, on YouTube. Prepare to show the first 4:07, omitting the section from 3:02 to 3:10. Test equipment immediately before the workshop.
  • Write these questions on newsprint, and post them where all participants can see them:
    • What is seen as excellent or desirable in the culture of this setting?
    • What physical attributes are desirable? What skills? What ways of being in the world?
    • What is seen as undesirable or to be avoided?

Description of Activity

Show the video, pausing at 1:19.

Ask the group to brainstorm definitions and examples of "culture." Record their responses on newsprint. Spend about five minutes on this.

Play the next section of the video and pause at 2:00.

Ask, "How does the provided definition fit with what we brainstormed?" Allow a few minutes for discussion.

By a show of hands, ask how many have experience in the four contexts named in the video. Ask if there are other young adult contexts, settings, or situations they would like to add to the list. Restate the list to reflect the group's additions.

Invite participants to move into groups of four or five, according to the contexts or situations they have experienced and wish to discuss. Invite each group to discuss "culture" as it is manifested in a particular context or situation. Give each group a sheet of newsprint and a marker. Call attention to the posted questions. Ask the small groups to discuss these questions for 10 minutes while one person records highlights of their conversation on the newsprint.

After 10 minutes, ask each group to post its highlights. Have groups share some highlights of their discussion with the larger group.

Ask, "What is race?" Allow about five minutes for the group to discuss this question.

Restart the video at 2:00, and stop at 3:02. Ask:

  • Is the notion that race is a made-up system used to categorize people a new idea for you? How does it change your thinking?
  • How does the picture of the twin girls challenge what you previously understood about race?

Show the video from 3:10 to 4:07.

Prompt a discussion on race and ethnicity by posing the following questions:

  • The video suggests that "race" is a notion used to divide people, while "ethnicity" is a way of identifying what binds people together. Does this distinction match with your experience?
  • How is "race" viewed in U.S. dominant culture? How is "ethnicity" viewed?
  • Is either concept important to your understanding of yourself, your friends, and your circle of acquaintances?