Ethnicity (Race & Ethnicity Conversation Series)

Conversation Guide

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Ethnicity means many things to many people, including (just for a start): your ancestral heritage, one’s cultural background, and things cultures typically include such as cuisine, holidays, ways of doing things, assumptions about “life”, etc. However, in the American context, race and ethnicity are often entangled with one another. This conversation’s primary focus is on ethnicity. For the purposes of deeper exploration, this guide (part 2 of the 3-part Race and Ethnicity Cohort Conversation) makes deliberate distinctions based on some of the common definitions for ethnicity.

Background Information:

(This is the second conversation in our Race & Ethnicity series of three conversations. You can check out the first one here and the third one here.) You can also listen to a podcast recording of this conversation here. Common definitions of ethnicity include:
  • A category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation.
  • An inherited status based on the society in which one lives. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art or physical appearance.
  • A social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.
  • A social group that shares a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through three rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before You Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

Introductions: Getting Started/
Why Are We Here?

After your experience with the conversation on race, have you been looking forward to participating in this conversation on ethnicity? Why or why not?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • Has the choice to participate in these discussions brought up any new questions for you as it relates to the topic(s)?
  • Have you done any deeper exploration into the topic(s) since your previous  cohort conversation?
  • Has participating in these conversations affected the way you listen to others discuss this/these topic(s)?

Round 2:

What do we want to understand about ethnicity?

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer ​one or more of the following questions:  Speak from your own experience. Your experience is never wrong; neither is anyone else’s.  This is a rare opportunity to speak your own stories around ethnicity, and listen to others do the same.
  • How do you understand ethnicity?
  • How would you describe your own ethnicity? How has it impacted you?
  • Have you ever claimed an ethnicity that wasn’t yours or that wasn’t visibly yours in order to “pass,” or have privilege?
  • How have race and ethnicity functioned differently in your life, if they have?

Round 3: Reflection & Next Steps

Answer ​one or more​ of the following questions:
  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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