4.3a - Developing our Analysis - The Meaning of our Skin

4.3a – Developing our Analysis – The Meaning of our Skin (35 minutes)

Materials needed: Butcher paper (or white boards) and markers

Purpose of piece: To explore and share how participants came to understand themselves in terms of race. Reveal some similarities and differences of experience both within and between groups.

Say to group: For the next 10 minutes, you are invited to go around the room and finish the four statements written on four different posters. Once you are finished writing your responses, take some time to read all the responses offered by the group. (10 minutes)

Four butcher paper posters (or white board areas)

  • I first realized I was a member of my racial group when…
  • When I was young, for me to be part of my racial group meant…
  • When I was young, in my community my racial group was treated…
  • When I was young, I saw society treating my racial group…

Group discussion (25 minutes):

  1. What themes do you notice?
  2. What similarities and differences are present?
  3. What did it feel like when you were writing on and/or reading the posters?
  4. In U.S. society today, to what degree are white bodies treated differently than bodies of color, regardless of dress, cultural attributes, manner, etc.?
  5. How might you respond to someone who says that “spiritually, we are all one body”?
  6. How can “both/and” language validate our common humanity while also acknowledging our differential racial experiences?

Facilitator’s Note: A wonderful resource to use as follow-up reading is the slim and highly-accessible book, Learning to be White: Money, Race, and God in America, by Thandeka.

Wrap up: Developing a sense of self as a racial being is a process. Most people of color are pushed into the process early. The majority of white people don’t pay attention to the meaning of being white until much later, if at all. Inquiring into a white person’s racial story can be a good way to begin talking about race with that person. Although they may not have much practice giving voice to the topic, listening to their story might inspire them to listen to you tell your story. When this happens, you can describe experiences that led to your investment in racial justice.