Race (Race & Ethnicity Conversation Series)

Conversation Guide

The expressed American ideal is the creation of a society that is fair and has opportunity for all, regardless of individual or group identity. Even as we work to build a nation that reflects those ideals, there are challenges to living into its fullest expression. This conversation series is an opportunity to explore our varied experiences of race and ethnicity in the American context. Where are we and what do we aspire to for ourselves and our communities?

Background Information:

(This is the first conversation in our Race & Ethnicity series of three conversations. You can check out the second one here and the third one here.) Definitions: In the American context, “race” and “ethnicity” are complex terms that are often used interchangeably. These terms were initially separated to designate “race” as a biological quality and “ethnicity” as a cultural phenomenon. For the purposes of deeper exploration, these guides makes deliberate distinctions between these two identifiers.  For this conversation (part 1 of the 3-part Race and Ethnicity Cohort Conversation), we will focus on race as it is commonly defined. Common definitions of include: Race:
  • A grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society.
  • A group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
  • An arbitrary classification of modern humans, sometimes, especially formerly, based on any or a combination of various physical characteristics, as skin color, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequently based on such genetic markers as blood groups.
  • A socially constructed category of identification based on physical characteristics, ancestry, historical affiliation, or shared culture.

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?

What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?

Round 2:

Round Two: Race

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 race, and listen to others do the same.
  • What qualifications do you use to determine a person’s race?
  • What is an early memory of race (not necessarily racism)? Or what is a powerful memory of race that still informs how you navigate relationships where race is a factor?
  • Was that memory of race a positive or negative experience for you?
  • Do you feel your race impacts your daily life? If so, how?
  • Were conversations about race a part of your upbringing? If so, how was the subject approached? How did people around you talk about other races?

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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