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<h2>Take a Break!</h2>For a lighter take on the topic of identity, watch this video entitled “What Kind of Asian Are You?”.
Produced for YouTube’s Comedy Week, this video provides a tongue-in-cheek look at cross- cultural learning. While some will see this as exaggerated, others may feel that this portrayal reflects actual, everyday occurrences. [/fancy_box]

Before convening your Learning Circle, review our suggestions for how these groups can be structured. Please read through the discussion guide on this page before convening your Learning Circle, so participants know what readings to complete by the time of each discussion.

Each of our Learning Circle discussions includes two sections. The first section will help your group think about and discuss one of the reflection exercises in each unit of our Study Guide. The second section, “Destination Discussion”, is tailored to support conversation around the political history text specific to your destination (generally Haiti, India or Mexico).

Unit I: Who Are You?

Thinking about white privilege (30 minutes)

  1. After your chalice lighting, opening words and check in, invite the members of your circle to watch together the video of Peggy McIntosh describing what led to the creation of her “knapsack of white privilege.”
  2. Invite people to first reflect individually in their journals on the following questions:
    1. If you identify as a white person:
      • What struck you from the McIntosh list that was surprising or new?
      • Did anything on her list disturb you, or provoke argument? Try to be specific.
      • Are there things you would add to the list?
      • What are you curious about?
    2. If you identify as a person of color:
      • Are there privileges on the list you have experienced, though not identifying as a white person?
      • Elements of the biases she describes which have touched you as a person of color?
      • Did you disagree with anything on her list? Try to be specific.
      • Are there things you would add to the list?
      • What are you curious about?
  3. When they have finished journaling individually, invite the members back together into the learning circle to discuss:
    • What feelings and thoughts are provoked by McIntosh’s reflections?
    • What new questions arise for you, especially as you contemplate the destination of this UUCSJ journey?
    • As individuals, what one new action would you like to take toward shifting racial power dynamics in your own life?

Destination Discussion (40 minutes)


Advance reading: Members of the group should read Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, the Introduction and Chapter One (“Independence”) and Chapter Two (“The Citadel”).

In the introduction to his book, DuBois writes:

“The coverage [of the 2010 earthquake often made the country sound like some place entirely outside the West — a primitive and incomprehensible territory — rather than as a place whose history has been deeply intertwined with that of Europe and the United States for three centuries. And when people wanted to know how Haiti had come to be so poor, and why its government barely functioned, pundits offered a plethora of ill-informed speculation…Many seemed all too ready to believe that the fault must lie with the Haitians themselves.”

1. Based on your reading of the first two chapters of the book, and insights gleaned from your reflections on race and privilege, how would you begin to answer someone expressing the opinion named above?

2. Were you surprised by anything you learned in this first part of the book?

3. DeBois uses original source material in these chapters to reveal the racism inherent in the systems of slavery and colonialism in 16th and 17th century Haiti. What are some of the ways that legacy came to permeate Haitian society?

4. In today’s Haiti, land rights — and differing understandings of how best to distribute, own and cultivate the land — continue as a central issue of human rights and self-determination. From your reading, how might you explain the roots of these struggles?

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Heather Vickery is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with UU congregations, State Action Networks, past UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) program participants, and regional staff in order to expand engagement in UUSC and UUCSJ’s work. As the Coordinator for Congregational Activism, she manages the workshop offerings and group visits to the UUSC/UUCSJ office and assists with communications for the Activism and Justice Education Team. Heather is an active member of the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network and a dedicated dog-mom to her rescue puppy Nova.

Heather may be contacted at hvickery@uucsj.org and 617-301-4303