ChalkTalks: Whom Am I?

Each 3rd Tuesday evening beginning at 6:45pm, a few hearty folks gather together as the RRUUC Religious Education Committee begins its meeting with others who have come to talk for 30 minutes about the assigned topic — this past month’s — Why a Multiracial Multicultural Religious Education?

The topic was the first question. There was a brief pause as folks pondered.  Every answer was spot-on including “can a room full of white people do this really?”

The second was “why Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education?”  No pause, folks readily and easily speaking to:  sexuality education’s centrality & urgency; how parents may skip it or are unable to tackle the depth and breadth of the topic;  that the schools don’t do it; how key it is that they learn with peers; how vital to examine who they are.  Almost none of the answers to this 2nd question were the same as for the first one.

We then examined that gap…and why it might exist. Two answers seemed especially provocative:

  • Adults may be even more uncomfortable with teaching about racial identity than they are about sexual identity. Everyone acknowledged that identity is identity…these two areas of exploration,  facets of the same religious question….who am I? What one doesn’t know looms large and seems dangerous. But so too, did all agree, does silence.

 

  • The second answer was…that the OWL program is a formatted curriculum, with specific tools and resources for parents and nothing like this is available   for multiracial multicultural religious education.  Indeed, there is no common, researched, published and vetted material based on Unitarian Universalist values for understanding racial identity.  We are all fumbling and creating what we can offering our best because silence here is so powerful. 

One more observation called us to a poignant pause.  Two parents spoke of reading the book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson and how after finishing it, they were angry. Angry that this part of our common history so vital to the way each of us, regardless of our ethnicity or race, did not exist in the primary, secondary and possibly college educations of those in the room. Here was something so vital to who we were but we were denied knowing it. This is what we can’t do again.  

So we continue…telling stories, asking questions, seeking guidance. Some of the online resources we use include:

EmbraceRace

DCEducators for Social Justice

Teaching for Change

Teaching Tolerance

MorningSide Center for Teaching Social Responsibility

Raising Race Conscious Children

Do you have others to share with us?

Leave a Reply