Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Faith In Action: Allied In Humor

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Journals and pens or pencils
  • Information about how to be a good ally. See Description of Activity for suggestions.

Preparation for Activity

  • Inviting a guest speaker to facilitate this Faith in Action activity is a good way to involve other members of your congregation in the Poetry workshop. Talk to the Social Justice Committee several weeks in advance. Ask if someone would like to help the youth become better allies. The congregation's minister might also be a good speaker on this topic. If you have youth in your congregation, or in your district, who have taken anti-racism/anti-oppression training with the UUA, ask if they would like to facilitate this exercise.
  • After lining up a speaker, discuss the presentation with him/her. Plan a presentation that is interactive by including opportunities for youth to share their experiences, role-play, and ask questions. Offer these suggestions to the speaker:
    • Speaking from personal experience is best
    • Create a safe space in which youth can share their experiences by keeping all participants respectful and reminding everyone that they can choose to pass if they wish.
    • Design a few role-plays so participants can practice being an ally. One example might be reacting to a sexist joke. (The speaker should be prepared to give the participants tips on how to say, "I do not find that funny," in a non-threatening way.)
  • Ask the speaker to bring resources that participants can take home. Stay in touch with the speaker, and confirm his/her attendance during the week before this activity is scheduled.

Description of Activity

Participants learn about one way to be an ally of traditionally marginalized or oppressed groups.

Say to participants,

Speaking out when you hear someone tell a hurtful joke is one way to be an ally to traditionally marginalized or oppressed groups. How do you confront someone who uses a joke to indulge in Christian bashing, sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, or homophobism?

Introduce the guest speaker. During or after the discussion, distribute resources such as the list, Becoming a Strong Ally 101: Guidelines for Dealing with Oppression in the Community, which you can find on Bring other resources for youth to see, such as Come Out and Win: Organizing Yourself, Your Community, and Your World, by Sue Hyde (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007).

After the event, discuss with participants what the conversation was like for them and what they gained from the experience. Invite them to write, in their journals, one tip they will use to be a good ally.

Including All Participants

This activity focuses on being an ally to an oppressed group of people. Be sensitive to members of the Poetry workshop who identify with or belong to an oppressed group. Be aware, however, that members of one oppressed group might be actively working as allies of another group. Try not to make assumptions. Do make sure that individuals from marginalized groups are not singled out in this activity or asked to speak as the authority for the group to which they belong. For example, a remark such as, "Hey, Stacy, you are black. Would you find this joke offensive?" could make Stacy question how safe the space is for her. Monitor the group for any such reactions.