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Session 3

Race and Racism: Various Voices in the Black community

This session examines the many voices sharing ideas about race and racism in the Black community and how they play out in the larger societal discourse. Just as there is no single voice that can speak for all Jews, other ethnic groups have a complex range of voices in the current conversational mix as well.

Session3

Torah source sheets, Statement cards, various essays

Print and cut out statement cards, print and make copies of the Torah source sheets and readings. Set up tech needed for sharing the videos.

Participants will know:

Definitions and understandings of:

  • Race Essentialism
  • America-Centric
  • Theory of Racelessness
  • Anti-Racism
  • Varying opinions on race and racism in the Black community
  • What the current debate is between the antiracist camp and its critics. The various ways this debate plays out in societal institutions. 

Participants will be able to:

  • Engage in open-ended discussions about race.
  • Apply the makhloket framework they created in session 1 as they discuss the different issues.

Enduring Understanding

  • Just as there is no single opinion on controversial issues within the Jewish community, there are a wide variety of voices, opinions and ideas in other communities as well.
  • The loudest, most commonly quoted voices of the Black community are not always the most representative of the larger community. 
  • There are multiple stances on addressing race and racism including critics of the racist-anti-racist dichotomy model.

Essential Questions

  • What are the perceptions in the media and social media concerning anti-racism? What is the antiracist perspective(s) and what’s its critique? 
  • What is meant by systemic racism? Should it be regarded as an opinion or a fact in present day America?
  • Is there a diversity of thought around race and racism?
  • Are you hearing/reading about other voices and ideas about racism besides woke/progressive and far-right deniers/conservative deniers? If so, what are they? If not, why not?

As a group, watch:

Discuss how/if the pre-session materials and videos watched in-session address the following: 

  • What are the perceptions in the media and social media concerning anti-racism? What is the antiracist perspective(s) and what’s its critique? 
  • Are you hearing/reading about other voices and ideas about racism besides woke/progressive and far-right deniers/conservative deniers? If so, what are they? If not, why not?

Introduction Discussion:

Facilitators ask participants to complete the following statements and (optional) suggest that it would be great if the whole group could come to a consensus on the answers. This introduction discussion is meant to reinforce that Jews, and as well as other ethnic groups are not monolithic in their thoughts and ideas.

Statement 1: All Jews agree that . . .
Statement 2: All Jews look like . . .
Statement 3: All Jews are from . . .
Statement 4: All Jews celebrate . . .
Statement 5: All Jews love . . .

Activity 1

Explain that there are two issues we are going to be examining here – racism and the conversation about racism. Start with these discussion questions: 

  • What are the perceptions in the media and social media concerning anti-racism (“Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities.”  (p. 17-18, How to Be an Antiracist))(see glossary)?
  •  Are you hearing/reading about a variety of voices and ideas about racism besides progressive and far-right deniers/conservative deniers? 
    • If so, what are they? 
    • If not, why not?

We’ll be examining various voices in the Black community about race, racism and the conversations around them.

As a group, (1) listen to the audio of Linguist John McWhorter Says ‘White Fragility’ Is Condescending Toward Black People. For people who would benefit from reading along, you can hand out the article with it. (2) Watch Dr. Ibram X. Kendi on Anti-racism

After going through these sources, break up into smaller groups and have them discuss:

  • How does hearing different voices on the issues of Race and Racism affect your thoughts and opinions? 
  • What are the different ideas on how to have conversations about racism from the sources?

Conclude with the following: 

Ask participants to reflect on and discuss: Is there a way to assess whether the voices that are being platformed are representative of the communities/issues they claim to represent?

Additional (optional in leu of time)

Activity 2

Divide participants into 3 groups and have them discuss one of three questions (that have been previously written or pasted on a large index card) for a short period of time (5-10 min). Then they will pass their question to the next group so that all the groups have a new question. After they discuss it for the time you decide (5-10 min), they will repeat the process until all three groups have a chance to discuss each question:

  • What is meant by systemic racism? Should it be regarded as an opinion or a fact in present-day America?
  • What are the tensions between the modern quest for racial justice and freedom of expression? Can both of those exist in a democratic society and/or institution?
  • How would you characterize the anti-racist view? What is the main criticism?  

 

Activity 3

Put participants into 3 groups. Give each group a “Situation” card. Using the makhloket framework that the whole group created in session 1, have the groups discuss their situation card. They don’t need to come up with a consensus, but they should spend some time reflecting on the benefits and challenges of the process itself.