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Radical Acting in Faith - scenarios for speaking up

These scenarios have been shared by participants. For each scenario, imagine yourself in the situation, as yourself, and practice how you would respond.


  1. I was leading an Adult Religious Education session in our Meeting (congregation) with a guest presenter from our local college speaking on the history of when different European ethnic groups  became white in US society. An elder in our Meeting interrupted him and claimed “I don’t see color.” The prof said he didn’t want to debate that and went on to talk of immigrate groups who at one time were not considered white, like the Jews and the Irish.
  2. During a recent committee meeting in my regional Quaker group, we were talking about a new format for the regional body in which Quakers (Friends) could share more of their spiritual journeys. The hope is that as more Friends share, the body would deepen. Since the committee was meeting via Zoom call about a month or 6 weeks after George Floyd’s murder, I was among 2-3 of us who asked questions if it would be appropriate to speak of racism/white supremacy as a concern, and if so, could we name that explicitly. The clerk—who is white and knows I am actively engaged in antiracism work—asked me to say something more. I said something like “When I look at the Zoom window, I see that all of us on this committee are white...” I was interrupted by someone who was raised in a racially diverse neighborhood and is helping shepherd this new initiative. “I’m so sick of hearing this. I am not a racist!” they said. The clerk and the committee, including myself, fell silent. We talked more about not restricting what participants would talk about in the new program and ended our meeting.
  3. On a family zoom call, we were bemoaning the state of the US and joking about where we might relocate. Canada? Mexico? New Zealand? Upon mentioning New Zealand, a grandmother in the family said to a granddaughter, “Oh, you could find yourself one of those, what do they call them? Native boys, aboriginal boys.
  4. At karaoke, a white person sang a song that used the N-word repeatedly. There were no African Americans present, but several Native people were.
  5. During a discussion at Meeting for Business about the care of our children, I said something to the effect of 'Let's work together to see that our children of color are made to feel welcome and included'.  Someone said we shouldn't use the words 'of color' because they were divisive.
  6. A group of parents are talking. A white mother of a Black child shares a difficult situation her child is facing around race and the mother’s lack of any sense of how to support her daughter. The only Black women parent present shares how she would handle the situation. Another white mother interrupts her to tell the Black mother she doesn’t know what she is talking about.
  7. Riding on a transit train, a white man was speaking foully to a Black schoolgirl. He was standing. She was seated. The train was very full. He was speaking loudly and using foul language addressing her. She did not make eye contact with him. She was holding her backpack.
  8. At the rise (conclusion) of Quaker meeting rather than shake hands as he would do with any other person, there is one white Friend who always “high fives" the one Black boy in our Meeting.  His mother  have spoken to him about this, but so far has been unsuccessful in convincing him that a handshake is appropriate for all members of the meeting.