Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Building the World We Dream About
Wrap-Up  2010 - 2012 

Participants: Ginger Abraham, Di Allen-Thompson, MaryHolly Allison, Martha Bireda, Myrna Charry, Cheryl Lee, Kit Longo, Gene Maresca, Gudrun Matthaus, Bob and Sue Taylor, Delight TePaske, Pat Thomas-Beard, Dodie Waters, Sonia Waters, Sharon Whitehill, Mary Wolff, and Ted Zawistowski.

This was the second and final year of participating in the Building the World We Dream About (BtWWDA) curriculum for this group of participants.  In year one we focused on the impact institutional racism has on all of us, understanding our white privilege, and the dynamics of race and power.  This second year we honed our personal skills at working cross culturally to ensure our success in building multicultural understanding in our congregation and the larger community.

We heard from a black high school student what challenges he faces as a person of color at Charlotte High School.  We visited the Seminole Indian Wars exhibit at Blanchard House African American Museum and continue to build our working relationship with Martha Bireda, Director, where we co-sponsor a community book club that discusses books about race and ethnicity.  Again many UUFCC members supported the MLK Breakfast, including placing a UUFCC ad in the program, and the MLK Day parade. The Worship committee, along with BtWWDA participants, presented many services during the year bringing attention to men and women of color who have served our denomination and our country.

At the conclusion of these workshops, we set action goals for what we want to accomplish during 2012 in our congregation and community. 

Highlights include:
  • Explore fellowship interest in beginning a new series of BtWWDA workshops.
  • Bring a multicultural, anti-racist lens to all aspects of fellowship life and the Long Range Plan for reaching UUFCC’s 2017 vision.  Encourage multicultural worship, music, art and potlucks.
  • Sponsor films and discussions for our congregation that highlight multicultural themes.
  • Sponsor conversations on race in the larger community.
  • Further research with Kelly Kirschner of Unidos Now how to work effectively with the Spanish speaking community.
  • Join efforts to alter Punta Gorda historical murals to include prominent black founders of the city. 

Monday, December 5, 2011




  • I have learned that there are various forms of integration, such as whether the group is more like a soup or a salad.

  • There are many levels of cultural competency within our group that I think is most likely a result of our life experiences.  I am curious about almost everything and love learning.

  • I am developing more awareness & sensitivity to other traits, customs, traditions that may surprise me.

  • I am learning how to prepare for the unexpected such as a food that includes items not previously considered, personal qualities such as tattoos, clothing that seems extreme or “inappropriate.”

  • The startle response is involuntary, or so it seems, so how do we behave after being startled?

  • I’m learning that asking questions of newcomers can be off putting. Reading the “Multicultural Welcome: A Resource for Greeters in Unitarian Universalist Congregations” for ideas on how to be truly welcoming to all would be helpful.  I think this resource might be helpful to our membership teams.

  • Ideas that I find creative: ways of engaging others to bring multiculturalism to the congregation.

  • I’m curious about engaging multicultural communities.  How do you express interest or curiosity without stepping over the line to being nosy?

  • How does one step into or stop a conversation that is socially insensitive?

  • I am learning that we are earnest about taking action steps, but we are in different learning places that I find exciting.

  • I want the facilitators to know that you are doing a really great job distilling this curriculum in usable ways.

  • I am learning and developing a love of cultural diversity, it takes time and I need to take personal responsibility for this.

  • How do we get more people involved in this quest?

  • How do we get people to take personal responsibility towards healing from racism?

  • I’m learning that developing multicultural competency is an ongoing, lifelong process.
  • I’m curious about how well we can share this info with the congregation and how receptive they will be.                                                                                                                                                  

Friday, November 25, 2011


Workshop 15 is really about Unitarian Universalism in general and how the history of several encounters and disagreements was addressed.  We discussed the early history of the big split between white and non-white Unitarian Universalists in the 60s and 70s which resulted in large numbers of resignations on the part of people of color.  It was a tragic!  The second incident was at the 2005 Fort Worth General Assembly when young black people were mistaken for waiters and/or bell hops by other Unitarian Universalists.  One group discussed the historical lessons and another group discussed the more recent event. We asked participants to structure their discussion around three questions: 1) what’s your assessment of how these incidents were handled?  2) How would you have handled the incidents?  3) Could something like that happen at our Fellowship? The general consensus was that the Fort Worth incident should have been discussed immediately because it would have been a wonderful learning opportunity.  It was addressed shortly thereafter and precautions have been put in place to prevent such happenings again.  Further, in discussing if such things could happen at our Fellowship, many agreed that it has already happened; particularly in the way we greet newcomers who are non-white.  We hope to work with the Membership committee in order to facilitate training for Greeters and others interested in visitors to our Fellowship.

Summary of feedback to the session:

1.  One person thought that we should not be rehashing old stuff.
2.  Several people liked the idea that we were finally addressing these issues at our Fellowship.
3.  One person liked the fact that the time constraints were somewhat relaxed.
4.  One person thought the leadership was good but too unstructured.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Our first session since the summer break and Beginning Year two of Building the World We Dream About

After sharing what our first year of workshops has meant to each of us, we discussed thoughts that have come to us about this work over the summer break.  Focusing on Multicultural Competence we shared in small groups the differences and similarities among us using our own personal identity maps.  At the end of our two hours together members gave thoughtful feedback:

What did you find compelling from today's workshop?
  • I liked the fact that the group makeup has continuity from last year.
  • I liked the identity map sharing, it is a helpful communication tool for teaching listening and learning.  I felt that it might have worked at the beginning of our time together, too.
  • I felt the definitions of cultural competency and the skills associated with it were important and the reading for today by Kat Liu was compelling and inciteful.
  • What do we as Unitarian Universalists need to do to help ourselves and our congregation to embrace multicultural openness?
  • It was compelling to observe the key questions asked today, such as "What do we do to address people on the margins?"
Do you have any concerns or puzzlements from today?
  • How will we involve the folks from the Long Range Planning committee & the Growth Initiative group and the Board in the ideas that we are learning?
  • How will we put ourselves in situations this week that push us outside our comfort zone?
  • I am thinking about the various ways that Unitarian Universalists might be viewed by a variety of types of people, we may be "off-putting" to some.
  • We may not appeal to diverse groups.  We need to develop competencies in different cultures and learn how they may veiw us before we can embrace them.
  • Some religions may appeal more to young people than others, I find that fascinating.
Do you have any suggestions for our group and coming workshop sessions?
  • No, this is well done just like last year, thank you!
  • The more people in the congregation we can get "on board" the better we will do.
  • I would like us to facilitate events for the wider congregation, such as maybe showing the Tim Wise video with discussion afterward and other events such as this.
  • I would like us to learn more about the demographics of the local area, about Latinos and African Americans.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Workshop 11: The Experience of Whiteness from Others Point of View

March 26, 2011

This workshop introduced perspectives on "Whiteness" from people who belong to marginalized racial/ethnic identity groups.

We obviously have to talk about racism, White privilege and the topics we covered within the “greater congregation;” having it out in the open will give us the opportunity to become more compassionate in our dealings with each other.

The big question that came from our group today was, again, where do we go from here in communicating with the congregation what we have learned this year. Today we grappled with the idea that Whites still do not see the privilege they have.

Today was interesting but I wish there was more time for discussion about how to proceed in the congregation. Acknowledging with all humility that, we who are white, have within us some degree of racism—it is impossible to grow up in this society without absorbing some racist ideology. But, we fight against it, knowing how it hurts us as well as people of color, so I say to the congregation, JOIN THIS STRUGGLE.

Developing one’s own identity can be a challenge for anyone. Society impresses its concepts on individuals and groups.  It is the right of each person to create or develop his/her own self identity.  All of us need to learn to respect this right in others even as we desire and expect respect for ourselves.

This session was especially worthwhile and the study materials were excellent. The group discussion was also helpful.

The four articles have a common thread of personal and group struggle with identity and race. It was surprising to me how much I have had experiences in my life with people dealing with similar issues.  It was helpful that one group member reminded me that “one does what you can in your own sphere of influence—and hopefully see results.

This was a good session—I think folks are beginning to open up more.

In this session we allowed more time for discussion which may have led to a greater depth and resulting in more questions than answers. Comparing the concept of the melting pot with the concept of stone soup—that is relishing differences rather than fearing them and wanting to make those differences go away.

We had thoughtful discussions on the readings that challenged our usual assumptions. We are learning how important self-identity is in terms of race and culture, it is a key learning.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Workshop 9--Whiteness

Workshop 9 Feedback—March 12 


Why do most White people not see themselves as having a race?  In part, race obliviousness is the natural consequence of being in the driver’s seat.  For most Whites, race—or more precisely, their own race—is simply part of the unseen, unproblematic background.

Here is the feedback from our workshop focused on Whiteness:

The concept of whiteness and its qualities and consequences is still more complicated and harder to grasp than might have been expected at this late stage.  It’s not so easy.

Excellent workshop—pace and different exercises generated deeper discussions, I felt.  I think we are grasping whiteness and its impact on everyone’s life in America.

Today stressed out.  I feel we do a lot of speaking for others when we should speak for ourselves—I speak for me.  We can focus on one aspect to come up with a desired discussion and comments of another aspect when we could be focused upon getting to a different aspect.  I wondered about having guests, the use of the sound system and the use of mikes.  I felt lacking. 

I think that we dug deeper into whiteness but people are still resistant to facing it.  The PowerPoint and film clip were effective except for the difficulty with the sound. 

I get some sort of insight from every one of these sessions, and this was no exception.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


In this workshop we worked to develop our skills in identifying visible and invisible ways congregational norms, culture, policies, and practices intentionally or unintentionally reinforce White privilege and dominant White culture while marginalizing People of Color and others marginalized by race or ethnicity.

Here is the feedback from our participants to this session:

Activity #1 : Effective in eliciting recognition of implicit racial attitudes & their deleterious impact on the in-group
Activity #2: I found it to be a bit “stacked” & constraining

Years of conscious addressing of race issues nevertheless did not dislodge stereotypes, fears, assumptions of privilege in some who spoke about their experiences. Suggests the hold prejudicial thoughts have on people.

It is always good to share personal stories and particularly useful to focus on experience we have had with “other” – those of color – experiences that help us recognize our early teachings and primal biases.

It is becoming clearer how being in a position of power cuts us off from relating in the here and now, relating to & understanding those who have grown up w/experiences vastly different from our own

Interesting. Confession good for the soul.

In our small group, we recognized the influence of parents, extended family, movies and TV on our early and often stereotypical impressions of people of color and how those messages affected our behavior as we grew up.

Enjoyed the casting game – a light way to recognize our ingrained stereotypes.

Thought provoking.

The e-mailed handout was really thought provoking. In class groups, we learned how some people had been insulated from other races growing up. The exercise about casting was illuminating.

The casting director exercise was quick and quite revealing.
It was pleasant to have plenty of time to have the discussion exercise. Naming the emotion associated with a painful racial experience provides another step towards healing.

Today’s session was helpful in bringing to light our unconscious prejudice.

Very enlightening to see ourselves in this light, hopefully to understand why we behave as we do.  Excellent !!