Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Faith In Action: Identity In A Changing World - Long Term

Part of Families

Materials for Activity

  • A film or film series about race

Preparation for Activity

  • Prepare an annotated list of films about racial identity. Some possible sources include public libraries, your UU district library, neighboring congregations, the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Stir Fry Productions (which produces, among others, The Color of Fear), California Newsreel (which has many great DVDs, but in particular Race - The Power of an Illusion), and the American Friends Service Committee (which offers many films on identity issues at nominal cost).
  • You and your co-leader, with possible advice from the religious educator or Social Justice Committee, pick a film or film series for the group to view. The film(s) should not run longer than ninety minutes. Order the film(s) and accompanying study guide(s). For instance, The Color of Fear has a study/discussion guide that you can download for $50.
  • Set the viewing date(s); schedule one to view the film(s) with the group and two if you want to sponsor a congregational viewing of a film.

Description of Activity

Young people can be a powerful motivator for change. Congregations will often attend activities that the youth sponsor, just because they want be supportive. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about racial identity. After they have seen the film themselves, youth can help facilitate a discussion with the whole congregation. You may want to schedule time to see several films. Perhaps this could become an ongoing series on identity and include other issues like gender and sexual orientation. Youth are at a critical stage at this time of life; through sorting out their own identity, they can provide great insight and new ideas to the congregation.

To your group, introduce the idea that, as they develop their own identity, youth are at a critical juncture in their lives. You might ask: "How we choose to name ourselves-black, white, multiracial, or something else-affects our worldview. How do you choose to identify yourself? How does that affect how you experience the world?" Then introduce the movie or movies you plan to show. For instance, you might say that The Color of Fear focuses on eight men who come from different racial backgrounds, who gather to discuss-sometimes in a heated way-their experiences. Race-The Power of an Illusion argues that race is an illusion that has deeply affected our culture in negative ways.

Show the film. Process it with the whole group, perhaps by using study guides that accompany the films or starting the discussion with these general questions:

  • What did you think of the film?
  • In what ways did it cause you to think about race that are different from how you thought before?
  • Why do you think the filmmakers wanted to make this film?
  • Do you think it is appropriate to view this film in a religious setting? Why or why not?
  • How does this film relate to our UU values?

Ask the youth whether they think adults in the congregation would benefit from watching the film(s). Organize a small group of youth to plan and facilitate an evening or weekend afternoon viewing for the congregation. Those who do not want to facilitate can be in charge of the equipment or snacks. Help the facilitators understand that there may be strong feelings in the congregation; questions of identity run deep. If your group is comprised of younger youth, suggest that adult and youth teams lead the discussions. You might ask adults who are not participating in Families, but who have facilitation experience with adult groups and/or a strong interest in the subject matter, to help facilitate.

Here is a short list of possible steps required to prepare for a congregational viewing:

  • Who will lead? Who will facilitate a congregational discussion after the film?
  • If you have lined up adult facilitators who are not participating in Families, allow time for them to preview the films.
  • Build in plenty of lead-time to advertise the event. Encourage the youth to make posters, send e-mails, put a short piece in the newsletter, and make announcements.
  • For each viewing, have a series of discussion questions as well as guidelines for the discussion. The Color of Fear discussion packet is a wonderful place to start for ideas. StirFry also offers What Stands Between Us: Flash Cards for Diversity Conversations.
  • After the event, be sure to debrief with youth. What went well? What was difficult? What do you wish you had known? How might we do this differently the next time?