2.0 - Warm up - Getting Vulnerable

2.0 – Warm up – Getting Vulnerable (25 minutes)

Materials needed: Yellow and blue 3×5 index cards, pens or pencils, two baskets

Purpose of piece: To begin sharing feelings and emotions related to personal imperfection and its relationship to racism

Facilitator’s Note: For a group that knows each other fairly well, you might begin with the following statement: “Our hope today is that we can build on the relationships we already have established with one another by allowing ourselves to be a bit vulnerable through this activity.”

For a group where the participants are virtual strangers, you might begin with the following statement: “We want to begin by naming that part of the dominant culture we live in is an overemphasizing of strength. Demonstrating vulnerability is often not highly valued. And yet, it is something that is really essential if we’re going to make progress in cultivating an anti-racist practice. Today’s activities invite us to become vulnerable with each other, even though we don’t all know each other well. We invite us all to sit with whatever discomfort we might experience and hold that tenderly.”

Say to group: Today’s ice breaker might feel a bit risky, as it asks us to begin exploring our emotions. To get started, you’re going to receive two different colored index cards. You’ll complete a sentence prompt on each card, fold it up, and toss it into one of these baskets. Eventually, we will read the cards out loud, so write legibly. We won’t write our names on the cards, and we will read the answers out anonymously. So, no one should know who wrote what unless you tell someone. The idea is to get a sense of our collective responses, not to focus in on a single person’s response.

Starting with the first one, on the yellow card, please finish the following sentence. When I realize (or am told) that I made a mistake or am wrong about something, my first reaction is…. (Repeat the sentence starter as needed.)

Once you’ve finished, fold the card a few times and toss it into this basket. Now, take the blue card. On this card, please finish the following sentence:  When I think about being a member of my racial group at this time in my life, I feel… (Repeat the sentence starter as needed.) (10 minutes)

Once you’ve finished, fold the card a few times and toss it into the second basket. We’re now going to pass the baskets around the circle. Take one yellow and one blue card. It is okay if it ends up being your own. We’ll start by reading the yellow cards. (The cards are read one by one, without commentary in between.)

Ask the group: What do you notice about the group’s answers? Are there any similarities or differences? In what ways do you think our tendencies might affect our racial justice efforts? What feelings do our collective responses bring up for you? (10 minutes)

Now open the blue cards and read them one by one, without commentary in between. Ask the group the same questions as previously.

Ask the group: What do you notice about the group’s answers? Are there any similarities or differences? How do you think our tendencies might affect our racial justice efforts? (10 minutes)

Wrap up: The exercises related to Chapter 2 are largely about how we handle difficult emotions that often arise when dealing with issues of race. It’s good for us to remind ourselves that how we respond to these issues is essential to investigate because others are often struggling with concerns as well. Some of those concerns may be similar to our own, and some may be different.