“If you have come to help me_ you are wasting your time

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					Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is
bound up in mine, then let us work together.”
                                                              - Lila Watson, Australian Aboriginal Activist

                           Session 4: A Recipe for Racism
     ▪ To review and discuss the definitions of white-skin privilege,
         discrimination, stereotype, prejudice, and racism.
     ▪ To consider our own personal power and privilege as it relates to these

Facilitator’s Preparation:
       • Select a hymn written by an ethnic minority or Aboriginal perspective (see
           ―Cultural Index to Voices United‖), such as #568 ―Dear Lord, Lead Me Day by
           Day‖ or #34 ―Come Now O God of Peace‖

        •     Set out basket with extra rocks in case someone has forgotten theirs or there
              is a new person

        •     Make copies for the group of:
                - Morning Light Prayer by Alf Dumont
                - Statement of Beliefs from the United Church Anti-Racism Policy
                - Flower Power sheet
                - Statements of White-Skin Privilege

        •     Draw an enlarged Flower Power sheet on newsprint

        •     On a flipchart, write the definitions of discrimination, prejudice and stereotype
              and be ready to post them on the wall:
                discrimination - An action or behaviour that distinguishes between
                people on the basis of observable or perceived differences. When
                discrimination is based upon stereotypes and prejudice it constitutes
                unfavourable treatment towards particular people or groups.

                prejudice – Literally, ―pre-judgement.‖ An attitude or state of mind casting
                another person or group negatively based on stereotyping or

                stereotype - The identification of a person or group with a few generalized
                and oversimplified characteristics of people from similar backgrounds or

        •     Write on flipchart the following definition of racism and be ready to post it on
              the wall:        Racial prejudice + power = racism

        •     Have extra copies of the ―Invitation to Faith in Action‖ handout (from Session
              1) available.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

Opening Options: (20 min.)
     - Sing a hymn written from an ethnic minority or Aboriginal perspective
     - Morning Light Prayer by Alf Dumont
     - Review ―Group Understandings‖
     - Check-in: place rock in the basket in the centre of the circle and check in with
       any new insights you wish to share.
     - Last week’s reflection question: Think about your history or your education:
       where can you recognize racism?

Activity 1: Charting our personal power and privilege (40 min.)
       This tool is adapted from Educating for a Change, a workbook written by
       Canadian social change educators. It helps us to identify what gives people
       power in this society and what marginalizes them. We will use it to help identify
       how close or far away each of us is from the centre of power in our Canadian

        On an enlarged picture of the Flower Power (see handout), ask the group to
        identify on the inner petals the characteristics that place Canadians close to the
        centre of power. For example, on the inner petal associated with Education, you
        may want to write ―university.‖ On the inner petal associated with Status, you
        may want to write ―clergy.‖ The two blank petals invite additional characteristics
        to be named.

        Once you have identified the characteristics of all of the inner petals that place
        Canadians close to the centre of power, ask each individual to take their own
        Flower Power handout and place themselves either on the inner or outer petal. In
        order to demonstrate the process, the facilitator is encouraged to fill in her/his
        own flower in front of the group. There are a few blank petals which people may
        want to fill out (i.e. time lived in community). See filled-in Flower Power page as
        an example.

        After each person has filled in their Flower Power, ask the group to count the
        number of inner petals (characteristics of privilege) they have placed themselves
        in, and the number of outer petals (characteristics of marginalization) they have
        placed themselves in. This will help the group to understand how close they are
        collectively to the centre of power in the Canadian society. Please be aware that
        some identities, such as sexual orientation or learning disabilities, are not visible
        and some participants may not be willing or able to share these aspects of
        themselves in a group. Be careful not to ―out‖ anyone! It may therefore be wise
        not to ask people to identify their specific petals with their neighbours or with the
        entire group.

        Discussion: What feelings have you experienced as you have looked at your own
        privileged and marginalized identities? Any surprises?

        Optional: Once everyone has drawn their own flower, ask everyone to take
        another identity out of a hat, and try to draw the flower for that identity. In the hat
        could be: recent female immigrant from Scotland, recent male immigrant from
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

        Burundi, female refugee from El Salvador, 4th generation male African Canadian,
        4th generation male Ukrainian Canadian, 4th generation female British Isles
        Canadian, Jewish man, Aboriginal woman, etc. You may want to add more
        characteristics for each identity (i.e. income level, physical or mental ability).

Optional Activity: Understanding white-skinned privilege (20 min.)
      For background information the group may want to read Marion Kirkwood’s ―The
      Privilege of Being White‖
      White-skin privilege refers to benefits afforded to people who have light skin
      colour -- simply because of the colour of their skin. Hand out ―Examples of White-
      Skin Privilege‖ and explain that this handout is a list of experiences of white-skin

        Invite participants to read through this list and write true or false beside those
        which apply to them in order to discern how much white-skin privilege they do or
        do not have. Should there be any questions about any of the points, you will find
        stories of racial prejudice encountered by people of colour and Aboriginal people
        associated with each one of these points.
                Brainstorm other examples or personal experiences of white-skin

        Discussion: How much white-skin privilege are you aware of? Have you
        observed or experienced discrimination based on skin colour? How does this
        make you feel?

Activity 2: Defining discrimination, stereotype and prejudice (15 min)
       Post the definitions of discrimination, stereotype and prejudice on the wall
       Discuss the definitions in light of the following examples:

                We discriminate every day when we make decisions and choices—and
                this is ok! When we combine our past experiences with our present skills
                of observation, we discriminate. Just as I discriminate among flavours of
                ice cream, I discriminate one person from another. I notice that the skin
                colour of a woman is different from the skin colour of her baby. This, in
                itself, is fine. When it is combined with stereotypes and negative,
                prejudicial values, it becomes dangerous. It is at this point that we are
                heading down the slippery slope towards racism.

                Discussion: Can you think of other positive and negative examples of

                If I see a woman of colour wheeling a white-skinned baby down the street,
                I might immediately think that she is a nanny, whereas if I see a white-
                skinned woman wheeling a baby of colour down the street, I might think
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

                that she has adopted the baby. Stereotypes that I have learned suggest
                that people of colour do not adopt white-skinned children, and that white-
                skinned people are not nannies. Even though I know that this is not
                always true—and have personally known many white-skinned nannies—I
                have to consciously name my initial impression as a stereotype in order to
                set it aside. Otherwise, this stereotype might negatively affect how I relate
                to this woman.

                Discussion: Can you think of other examples of stereotyping?

                If I then combine a prejudiced attitude with this stereotype, I am adding
                one more ingredient that leads to racism. I may assume that this woman
                of colour has little education, has a low level of intelligence and is living
                below the poverty line. I have no basis for these assumptions, but my
                stereotypes and prejudice have combined to cast this woman in an inferior

                Discussion: Can you think of other examples of prejudice?

Activity 3: Defining Racism (20 min.)
       Refer to the power flower on the wall, as well as the sheets identifying white
       Post the definition of racism and discuss the following:

                Racial prejudice + power = racism.
                Racism is racial prejudice (white people, people of colour and Aboriginal
                people all have this) combined with systemic, institutional power (only
                white people have this). We need to consider the power imbalance
                inherent in racism. Certainly, people of colour can be and are prejudiced
                against white people. That is part of our social conditioning. An individual
                can act on his/her prejudices to insult and even hurt a white person. But
                there is a difference between being hurt and being oppressed. In our
                society, Aboriginal people and ―visible minorities,‖ as a social group, do
                not have the societal or institutional power to oppress white people. In the
                Canadian context, a person of colour putting down a white person
                because of skin colour, while clearly wrong, is acting out of a personal
                racial prejudice, not racism.

                Discussion: Can you think of examples of racism?

Activity 4: Reflection on Luke 13: 1-9 (15 min.)
       Background Info for Facilitator: Jesus is refuting a commonly held assumption
       that suffering is the result of sin. He is questioned about two tragedies: Pilate
       ordered some Galileans slain while they were in the act of slaughtering their
       sacrifices; and the tower of Siloam, part of the fortifications of the Jerusalem near
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

        an important spring and reservoir, had collapsed on eighteen workers and killed
        them. In order to find some rationale for these tragedies, some people were
        suggesting that those killed must have been sinners. Jesus clearly states that
        they were no more sinful than anyone else; that everyone is equally in need of
        repentance. The fig tree could be heard to symbolize Israel to Jesus’ listeners, or
        Canada to our ears. Jesus suggests that the fig tree be given another chance to
        yield fruit, even though it has been barren for a long time. We in Canada are
        given yet another chance to repent of our own participation in racism in order to
        yield the fruit of repentance, forgiveness, understanding, compassion,
        reconciliation, and solidarity.

        Read Luke 13:1–9.
        Discussion Question: Jesus challenges us to identify and repent of ways in which
        we have inadvertently hurt others through racist words or behaviours. He also
        promises us forgiveness and another chance to begin to see others with new
        eyes of understanding. Just as he gives the fig tree another chance to bear fruit,
        he gives us another chance to bear fruit. What kind of fruit would Jesus hope that
        we would bear through these studies on anti-racism?

Closing: (10 min.)
      Review the ―Invitation to Faith‖ and Action introduced in Session I. Have this
      invitation available for newcomers.
              Brainstorm additional actions that may have been generated by this

        Reflection question for the coming week:
               What examples of white-skin privilege, discrimination, stereotype,
               prejudice, and racism can you find in personal interactions and in the

        Read together the Statement of Beliefs from the United Church Anti-Racism

        Sing another ethnic minority or Aboriginal hymn such as #424 ―May the God of
        hope go with us‖ or #346 ―We are marching in the light of God‖

        Pick up your rock and go. Remember to bring it back next week.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

                                  Statements of White-Skin Privilege
                             (see examples of each statement on following page)

1.   I can go shopping alone without being watched or harassed because of my skin colour.

2.   I can watch television, read a magazine or paper and see people with my skin colour widely

3.   When I learn about Canada’s national heritage or the founders of this nation I will see many
     pictures of people with my skin colour.

4.   My children will use school curriculum that largely includes pictures and stories of people
     of their skin colour.

5.   I can go to most grocery stores and find food that comes out of my cultural traditions.

6.   I can go to most beauty salons and find someone who knows how to work with my hair.

7.   I can use cash, cheques or credit cards and be confident that the colour of my skin will not
     affect the appearance of my financial reliability.

8.   I can do well in a challenging situation and not be called a credit to my race.

9.   I am not asked to speak for everyone of my racial group.

10. When I ask to speak to the “person in charge,” I will probably be speaking with someone of
    my skin colour.

11. If a police officer pulls my car over, I can be sure that I haven’t been singled out because of
    my skin colour.

12. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s
    magazines featuring people with my skin colour.

13. If I have had negative experiences with others, I don’t wonder if negative reaction to my
    skin colour has contributed to these experiences.

14. I can choose flesh coloured crayons, blemish covers, or bandages that more or less match the
    colour of my skin.

15. I can register at a hotel without worrying about being turned away because of my skin

16. I can rent an apartment without fear of rejection because of my skin colour.

Based on actual experiences of racial prejudice encountered by people of colour and Aboriginal people; adapted from “White
Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” by Peggy McIntosh.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

                              Examples of White-Skin Privilege
          (these examples correspond to the numbered statements on the previous page)

1.   Some teenagers report that have been watched or harassed when going into stores, simply
     because of their age. If the teenagers are Aboriginal or are people of colour, these
     experiences of scrutiny or harassment increase.

2.   While there is better racial diversity in ads and television shows, the majority of people
     profiled in articles and news coverage as positive role models have white skin. Conversely,
     race becomes an issue if a person of colour commits a crime, while race is not mentioned as
     often if a person with white skin commits a crime. Noting the race of the person committing
     the crime is called “racial profiling.”

3.   References to Canada’s national heritage or to the founders of this nation focus primarily
     upon the French and English settlers, with less regard for the First Nations or immigrants
     from other nations.

4.   While school curriculae has become more inclusive of Canada’s racial and cultural diversity,
     it still focuses primarily upon the stories and pictures of people with white skin.

5.   The larger grocery stores in urban centres are beginning to carry increasingly diverse types
     of food, but it is still difficult for minority cultural groups to buy ingredients or prepared
     foods common to their culture.

6.   Different types of hair require different treatment. Not all beauty salons are equipped with
     products or knowledge of care for every type of hair, but they will usually be able to deal
     with the types of hair common amongst Caucasians.

7.   In the spring of 2003, an Aboriginal woman was purchasing materials for an organization of
     which she was the chair. She was asked not how she would pay for the materials, but if she
     could pay.

8.   People who are part of minority groups in Canada (e.g. Métis, deaf culture, Korean) or part
     of a group that has less power in this society (e.g. women, children, seniors) sometimes hear
     comments that judge their character or performance as a reflection of their group. For
     example, women in ministry have been told, “You’re pretty good for a woman minister.” An
     Aboriginal man will feel additional pressure in a job when he knows that the hiring of other
     Aboriginal people is dependent upon his own success or failure.

9.   Similar to #8, people who are part of a minority group or a group that has less power in this
     society are sometimes asked to speak for their entire group. For example, a Muslim woman
     might be asked what Muslim women feel about wearing a head covering. This question
     doesn’t recognize that there are many different views and cultural practices amongst Muslim
     women on this subject, and that only some Muslim women wear a head covering.

10. It is rare for someone in a top management position within public office in Canada to be an
    Aboriginal person or a person of colour.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

11. Data collected in Toronto in the early 1990's indicated that black teenage boys were
    repeatedly pulled over and questioned by police.

12. A quick glance in a toy department will show the predominance of white-skinned, blue-eyed

13. If you have dark-coloured skin and encounter racist comments or behaviours on a daily
    basis, you will begin to question whether particular negative reactions of others are caused
    by their racism, or by something you have done or said that is deserving of valid critique.

14. Although the phrase “flesh-coloured” is being used with less frequency, it can still be found
    and inevitably refers to pink-beige skin colour.

15. An Aboriginal elder, on her way to General Council in 1997, was told there was no room in
    a motel. A Caucasian woman then went in to ask for a room, and was given one.

16. In 2002, two Aboriginal girls each phoned about an advertised apartment. When they arrived
    to see the apartment, they were told that it was taken. However, the following day it was still
    advertised as available.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

                               Statement of Beliefs
                      The United Church Anti-Racism Policy
We believe we are all equal before God.

We believe racism is a sin and violates God’s desire for humanity.

We believe racism is present in our society and in our church, and throughout time
has manifested itself in many forms in varying degrees.

We believe that the struggle against racism is a continuous effort. Therefore our
anti-racism policy statement is only a first step. It provides the basis for the
creation of a church where all are welcome, where all feel welcome, and where
diversity is as natural as breathing.

We believe change is possible. We believe in forgiveness, reconciliation and
transformation, and the potential to learn from stories and experiences.

We believe we are all called to work against racism and for a society in which the
words of the Gospel are realized among us.

We believe in a vision of society in which these words of the Gospel are realized:
  It is through faith that all of you are God’s people in union with Christ Jesus.
  You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to
  speak, with the life of Christ. So there is no difference between Jews and
  Gentiles, between slaves and free persons, between men and women; you are
  all one in union with Christ Jesus.
      Galatians 3: 26–29
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

                                  Morning Light Prayer
                                     by Alf Dumont

                        As the morning light appears,
                  may I be ready to walk humbly and gently
                    on Mother Earth, with all my relations;
                     may I be ready to share all that I have
                        with my brothers and sisters;
                   and may I be open to hearing your voice
                              as it speaks to me.

                 As the light reaches its zenith in the sky,
                may I continue to lift my hands and my heart
                            in service to others.

                  As the evening light meets the horizon
              may I always be ready to come to you, Creator,
               with peace in my soul and with gentle spirit.

From That All May Be One.
Used with permission.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

                                    The Privilege of Being White
                                        by Marion Kirkwood

I am a woman of privilege. My privilege includes the power that I have because I happen to
have been born in Canada, because I had middle-class parents who were able to give me a good
education, because I am heterosexual, because I am able-bodied. It also includes the power that I
have because my skin happens to be white.

It’s been a long and gradual journey for met to articulate that last power – the privilege of being
white. It’s taken time for me to recognize those things which are racist in myself, in my
community, in my church. As I reflect on this, let me share three snapshots from my memories.

Snapshot 1: Ontario 1945. My sister, brother and I with our Japanese Canadian friend, holding
baskets of freshly picked raspberries.

Growing up in small-town Ontario, the daughter of a United Church minister, my exposure to
people of other races was slight. During World War II, Japanese Canadians who had been
displaced from British Columbia were interned near the small town where my father served. My
parents welcomed these men into our home, and some of them became lifelong friends. A seed
was planted at that time, a seed which said to me that the colour of one’s skin did not matter. I
know that the friendship offered by my parents was genuine. But I wonder now whether our
Japanese Canadian friends perceived it as genuine or as tinged with paternalism. I wonder
whether my parents talked about the injustice of the removals, whether they wrote any letters of
protest to the government. I wonder….

Snapshot 2: Kafulwe, Zambia 1965. My two daughters, Jane and Joy with their Zambian
playmate, Bwalya.

In 1962 my partner Jim and I left for Zambia with our three children to serve as missionaries
with the United Church of Zambia. Our first parish was in a rural area in the northern part of the
country. We went with a lot of idealism, wanting to work as partners with Zambian ministers
and lay people. But we soon discovered that it was difficult to make the partnership an equal
one. Although we attempted to live as simply as possible, the reality was that we were
privileged. For example, we sometimes used a Land Rover for transportation, while they walked
or used a bicycle. As the only “white” people in the area, our family was often the centre of
attention. We were also perceived as having access to wealth and the ability to provide
economic betterment to the local people. Our white privilege, our economic privilege and our
“missionary” status were very closely intertwined.

God knows we tried hard to overcome some of this. In the church context, we were intentional
in trying to transfer power to the local people. As the country moved towards political
independence, we were intentional in allying ourselves with the aspirations of the Zambian
people, rather than with the colonialists (including missionaries!) we met, some of whom were
quite racist. Gradually, as we learned the language and rich culture of the Zambian people, we
realized that they had much to teach us. We learned the depth of their faith in the midst of
struggle. We learned from the hope with which out neighbours continued to “hang in” even in
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

adverse circumstances. We learned to sing and dance and laugh with them in good times and
bad. And when our baby Timothy died at two weeks of age of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,
they became our family, surrounding us with love and compassion. They became our friends.

When we returned to Canada, therefore, it was not difficult for us to form friendships with
persons of very different backgrounds. We offered hospitality to guests from Africa and other
parts of the world. We encouraged our children to include young people of different races in
their circle of friends. Within our home, we tried to be “colour-blind”. We worked in solidarity
with brothers and sisters on the African continent in their struggles for liberation and justice.

Personally, I took some pride in all this – pride in the fact that our family was not racist.
Looking back now, I am beginning to wonder if that kind of assumed superiority is not another
type of racism – only more subtle.

Snapshot 3: University of Guelph 1998. Table group at “Daring Hope”, a Canadian
Conference to mark the end of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women.

Looking at systemic racism in our country and church has been a more recent development.
During the 1990’s, two things have challenged me in this area – the “Decade” and the issues
related to Indian residential schools.

During the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (World Council of
Churches, 1988-1998), I was involved locally and ecumenically in various activities. These
culminated in planning for “Daring Hope”, a Canadian conference to celebrate the end of the
Decade. The planning team was a diverse group in terms of denominational background, but
was not diverse racially. As we struggled to plan a conference that would truly reflect the
Canadian church, we invited women of colour to join us. This was not as easy as we thought.
We soon discovered that their issues were not the same as ours. For many women of colour,
issues of racism and poverty had priority over, for instance, feminist theology. We also differed
in theological beliefs and liturgical practices. Many groups had not even heard of the Decade,
and asked, “Why were we not included?” Others questioned why black women would even want
to be part of a conference where white women had already set the parameters and the agenda. It
soon became apparent that the perception was that “we” wanted “them” to join “us”, and on
“our” terms. The struggle to work through these issues helped me to realize that as white women
we had a lot of hidden assumptions, many things that we take for granted as “normal”, as well as
privilege and power.

Both at “Daring Hope” and later that year at the Decade Festival in Harare, Zimbabwe, these
lessons were reinforced. Non-white women spoke clearly and strongly about the overt and
covert racial practices of our world. They called me to account about the racist practices of our
immigration system, our job hiring practices, our labour laws that operate to the disadvantage of
marginalized women. They forced me to ask why the police in Canada more frequently target
young black youth, and whether our school curriculum sufficiently includes the rich heritage of
people of all colours. They challenged me to re-examine the links between racism, patriarchy,
classism, and sexism.
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2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

My sisters also challenged me to consider the practices within my church – the use of language
around darkness and light, the rigidity of liturgy which does not make room for different ways of
being in the presence of God. They asked me to recognize the validity of their own beliefs and
faith practices, to examine not only “feminist theology”, but also “womanist theology.” They
helped me see that what I had come to accept as “normal” in worship, music and theology could,
to them, be seen as racist. The second challenge also happened for me in the 1990’s. Once again
I head the story of the Indian residential schools from the perspective of those who attended
these schools and were subject to abuse of various kinds. This led me to more in-depth study of
the relations between First Nations peoples and the white people of this country. Historically,
racism and paternalism have been ingrained in this relation from the beginning, and in fact are
still embedded in Canada’s political and legal systems.

I cannot take responsibility for the actions of my ancestors who took this country from its
original inhabitants, who wrote laws and established practices which placed power squarely in
white hands. But I can do something about the fact that many of these laws and practices are still
in effect today, providing the underpinning of racism for our systems of governance. I can
educate myself about racism by listening intently to the voices of my sisters and brothers whose
heritage is different from mine, and learn to respect and celebrate it. I can dialogue with them
and work together to change the racist laws and practices that pervade both Canadian society and

So I am a woman of privilege, including the privilege of being born with “white” skin. I
recognize how powerful that privilege is. I am able to name it now, not with shame or guilt, but
with seriousness. Naming this unflinchingly brings awareness of the work I need to do to ensure
that the power I wield as a white woman is used in a way that liberates me from my own racism
Naming this means learning to give away that power so that others may be liberated. For it is by
naming this that the way is opened for me to stand in solidarity with my sisters and brothers who
are marginalized by racist structures in our church and our society.

Marion Kirkwood is a weaver, a musician and an educator who lives in Toronto with her partner Jim. She works for
a world in which her three granddaughters, Laurena, Micaela and Mariana, can fulfill their own dreams free of
racism, sexism and classism.

From “That All May Be One”.
Copyright permission for The United Church of Canada.
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4
Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
2004 Anti-Racism Kit – Session 4

Copyright permission from The United Church of Canada

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