4.1 - Developing our Community - Exploring the Tensions Together

4.1 – Developing our Community – Exploring Tensions Together (30 minutes)

Materials needed: Tensions Sheet (if desired)

Facilitator’s Note: Distribute the Tension Pairs handout so participants can read along, if desired. This might reduce the need to orally read the statements multiple times.

Purpose of piece: To provide a group with the opportunity to explore and share their personal experiences with the various tensions described in Chapter 4 in order to create a shared understanding among group members.

Say to group: This exercise is called a human barometer. It is a way for us to explore and share our beliefs about a set of ideas. There are no right answers and no right place to be. And just like any thought or feeling, it can change at any time. As we go through this exercise, please remember that you can move your position at any point. You might hear another person’s idea that changes your mind. Or, you might have a change of heart in the middle of the discussion.

To get started, I am going to read two statements. Consider to what degree you feel pulled to one statement or the other. If you feel strongly attracted to the first statement, place yourself on the right side of the room. If you feel strongly attracted to the second statement, place yourself on the left side of the room. If you feel equally attracted to both, place yourself in the center. This is a continuum, so you may place yourself in the room in any position that illustrates how you feel about the two statements.

Facilitator Note: Once the participants locate themselves along the continuum, share in some discussion regarding why they chose that place to stand. You can do this as a sequence of pair shares or small group discussions with share outs (a few minutes each). Extend the conversation as long as desired to allow the group to learn about each other’s orientations to the positions.

Set 1 Our similarities tie us to each other. and  Failing to recognize our different experiences creates distance between us.
Set 2 Relating across race is eased when we focus on our similarities.



and Relating across race is more difficult when we ignore the effects of historic and contemporary racism.
Set 3 My physical body is a vehicle and is not meaningful in and of itself. and My physical body is an essential part of who I am and how I experience the word.
Set 4 I appreciate learning from stories told by community members who are of a different racial background than myself. and Stories told by community members from marginalized groups often involve those individuals reliving painful life events to support the growth of dominant group members.
Set 5 Optional Add something specific to your community, as desired. and Add something specific to your community, if desired.



Ask large group follow up questions, as desired or relevant:

  1. How do our positions affect how we each approach actions intended to further racial justice and healing?
  2. How might our individual perspectives influence our decision-making process?

Wrap-up: The purpose of this activity is to learn more about how we internally process these questions. The hope is that the more we know about each other, the more we will understand each other’s responses to future challenges and be able to work together to find resolution.