2.1 — Developing our Community – Exploring the Tensions Together (30 minutes)
Materials needed: Tension Pairs handout, drawing paper, pens and pencils, markers
Purpose of piece: To explore and share participants’ personal experiences with the various tensions described in Chapter 2. To create a shared understanding among group members.
Say to group: To get started, I am handing out a sheet with sentence pairs inspired by Chapter 2. I’m going to read each pair out loud a couple of times. As I do this, sit back and reflect on how you feel internally. What body reactions do you notice when they are read? Do you notice anything in your breath or energy? Emotions or thoughts? Which sentence of the pair draws you? Do both draw you? Do they draw you equally? After I read the sentence pair for the second time, take a pen or pencil and, on a continuum of 1-9, circle the number that best represents how you feel. Circling a 1 would indicate an exclusively strong resonance with the first sentence in the pair, circling a 9 would indicate an exclusively strong resonance with the second sentence in the pair, and circling a number in between would indicate how pulled you feel in one direction or the other. A 5 would indicate a sense of balance, or an equal pull in both directions. (5 minutes)
Facilitator’s Note: If you are working with a multi-racial group, it might be useful to make clear that the language in item #1 regarding prejudice includes socialized ideas about groups other than one’s one, which can exist within any person of any background.
|1||I am a good person.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9||Prejudice is infused in my psyche.|
|2||It’s not my fault that our society is so racist.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9||I feel responsible for working to eliminate racism from our society.|
|3||I feel comfortable in my skin.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9||When I think about being part of my racial group, I feel uncomfortable.|
|4||I feel okay about the contributions I make to racial justice.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9||I’ll never be able to do enough to advance racial justice.|
|I want people to think positive things about me.
|1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9||It’s okay for people to question me and think I’m doing things wrong.|
Now, take a look at the various pairs and choose one to focus on, the one that feels most evocative. It might be that you’re personally struggling with it. Or maybe you have strong feelings about how it’s playing out for others you know. Use a sheet of paper (or the back side of the handout) to illustrate what this tension looks like, or feels like, or what it brings up for you. Feel free to draw, write, or doodle anything that comes to mind or that illustrates how you feel. (10 minutes)
Pair share – Invite pairs to talk to one another about what they drew and why. (5 minutes)
Large group discussion: (15 minutes)
- How does the sentence pair you selected affect you and your relationships with others?
- How does the sentence pair you selected affect how you approach racial justice?
- How does the sentence pair you selected affect racial justice work in our community?
Wrap up: The purpose of this activity is to learn more about one another so that we will understand each other’s responses to future challenges and be able to work together to find resolution.