Adult Study Series

Final Week: Last Sunday of Pentecost, Nov. 29

As we conclude this weekly study of White Privilege, we ask again what it means to become an ally.

Reading: Curriculum: pages 98-106 (John Dorhauer, Stephen G. Ray)

Short Video: Tim Wise on Not Knowing Any Better

Short Video: Chescaleigh on Getting Called Out, How to Apologize

If you have time, try taking the Harvard Implicit Association test. Choose the RACE option. It takes about 15-20 minutes. You will NOT be asked to reveal the results to us unless you choose to volunteer a comment.

Questions for Discussion:

What do you think of the idea of our church doing a White Audit?

What do you think we might learn?

Describe mistakes you could make as an Ally.

Imagine how you would overcome it.

What tools do you have to resist the temptation to become defensive?

Share a story about a time when you found it hard to believe or accept a claim by a person of color that they were being discriminated against.

What takeaways do you have from this White Privilege series?

Week 10, Nov 22: PART 4: On Being an Ally

Please read pages 87-97 in the UCC White Privilege Curriculum.

Recommended short video:

Five Tips for Being an Ally


1)  On page 93 John Paddock writes:

“In practice, integration was too often a one-way street where whites insisted on blacks adopting white values, behavior, and culture, while whites didn’t have to make any moves at all other than welcoming blacks into the white world. This was too often the subtle and unspoken work of white privilege which assumed that standard (normal) white English would be spoken, black hair would be straightened, white fashion would be worn, and so on.

True integration involves being open to the other. In a healthy relationship, your story impacts my story and vice versa. We embrace and are changed by each other, and what emerges is something new.”

What unspoken standards and expectations do you hold about integration?

Would you be willing to change and be changed? What changes would be difficult?

2)  From the reading for today, and from your own experience,

what does it mean to be an ally? What is required of allies?

3)  What does John Paddock mean by “Tarzan Syndrome” (page 91)?

4)  What would you add to Paddock’s list of General Behaviors that are Helpful for Allies? What items in the list would you like to comment on?

Paddock, p 94:

Listen without making judgments. • Use appropriate language, and if you are uncertain about what is appropriate, then ask. • Speak out when inappropriate language is used or racist ideas are expressed. Do not keep silent. “Silence is the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” • Strive to build relationships with black and brown people. Real relationships break down stereotypes and open people to one another. • Be willing to be corrected and even criticized without defensiveness and with humility. • Show up without thinking that you have to help (which puts you in a superior position).

Week 9, Nov. 15: Chapter 5:
Medical/Health Industry Advantages Whites

Curriculum: Da Vita D. McCallister, 84-86
Video (6 min.): Post-Traumatic Slave Syndome.
Dr. Joy de Gruy website.
Please scroll down to 4th video.

A Brief History of Racism in Healthcare. World Economic Forum, 2020.

for those who want to know more about the Tuskegee Experiment:

Racism and Discrimination in Healthcare: Providers and Patients. Harvard Health Publishing, 2017.

Racism in Healthcare Isn’t Always Obvious. Scientific American.

How might past history influence African Americans’ attitudes towards institutional medical care?
Considering the readings and your own experience, what factors may cause both Men and Women of Color in the U.S. to mistrust the medical care available to them?

Reflect on your own experience of communication with medical staff in exam rooms, and the resulting medical care you received. How does white privilege seem to have been at work?

How do you think that we as a nation might respond to the data that shows a much higher death rate for People of Color with COVID?

Week 8:  Income Disparity and Wealth Gap

Readings:  UCC White Privilege Curriculum 79-83

Article Cited in Curriculum Pew Research Center

Article suggested by Marilyn on Race and Credit by Michelle Singletary


A second article by Michelle Singletary on reparations.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Where has the cash value of whiteness paid off in your life and your family?

• Family wealth and inheritance?

• Education?

• Employment?

• Compensation and benefits?

• Mortgage and credit?

• Legal representation?

• Social networking and business connections?

• Government policies?

  • Explore the question of the pyramid of wealth. Where are you in the pyramid? Who is above you and who is below? How did you get there? What keeps you there?
  •  What do Singletary’s articles on credit and reparations contribute to our thinking about the wealth gap?  From the reading and from your own experience, what do you think are the central causes of the gap in economic resources between whites and people of color?
  • What do you think of the idea of reparations? (What form these would take would have to be thoughtfully worked out—the question here is whether or not you think we as a nation should pursue reparations in any form.)
  • What would 40 acres and a mule look like today? 

White Privilege – study group Week 7

White Privilege Curriculum article on housing by John Dorhauer (Chapter Three in Cash Value of Whiteness) 75-79.
Here’s a few other articles that connect to this week’s theme of white privilege and house.  Pick and choose as you have time.
Washington Post series on George Floyd:  Housing
Article from American Prospect cited by Dorhauer about how the 2008 recession affected people differently depending on race.
Washington Post article on the legacy of redlining that affects home worth today.
This article appeared in the Iowa City News digest, the city’s weekly collection of items they want to bring to citizens’ attention.  

Memorandum on Federal Agencies, Contracts, and Staff Training 
Questions to Consider for Week 7:  White Privilege and Housing
1. Talk about the racial composition of your street or neighborhood. How did the racial composition of your neighborhood affect your decision to move into this house or this neighborhood? Has that composition changed over time, and if so, how do you feel about the changes?
2. Often in conversations about privilege, and in particular in conversations about the communities in which one lives, one will hear it said: “But we don’t have any people of color in our community/ neighborhood/town.” If that is true of your community or church, take some time to talk about what conditions and circumstances contribute to that being the case. How does it feel for you to live in an all white community or worship in an all white church?
3. Share something that you learned about how white privilege affects housing markets. 
4.  What does the Washington Post article about housing and George Floyd add to our discussion of the impact of housing policies and practices on people of color?
5.  What do you think of the federal directive to discontinue trainings for federal employees that have to do with learning about/discussing white privilege and the effects of systemic racism?
This article appeared in the Iowa City News digest, the city’s weekly collection of items they want to bring to citizens’ attention.  

Memorandum on Federal Agencies, Contracts, and Staff Training
On September 4, the Director of the Executive Office of the President issued a memorandum directing heads of executive departments and federal agencies to review contracts for staff training.
Agencies are “directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”
The memo instructs agencies to “begin to identify all available avenues within the law to cancel any such contracts and/or to divert federal dollars away from” them.
The memo justifies this action by referring to “press reports” claiming that federal employees have been told in trainings that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” or “benefit from racism.” Again, citing press reports, the memo claims some trainings have advanced “the idea that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is a land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job.”
Asserting that these trainings “engender division and resentment within the federal workforce,” the memo notes that the White House “cannot accept our employees receiving training that seeks to undercut our core values as Americans.” Although the memo dutifully mentions “fair and equal treatment” and the intention to “continue to support all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed,” it also characterizes critical race theory as a “movement” disseminating “divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda.” 
For the moment, the memo only directs agencies to “begin to identify” contracts for trainings related to white privilege or systemic racism. However, it clearly states agencies are to attempt to void any current contracts they legally can, and to “cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund” such training.
Including employees of the Postal Service, the federal full-time-equivalent civilian workforce in 2020 is approximately 2.8 million people, according to Congressional reports. This figure is actually quite a bit higher. First, “Full-time-equivalent” is a way of measuring numbers of employees as if all employees were full-time. Therefore, for example, groups of two people each working 20 hours per week, or four people each working 10 hours per week, would each be measured as one “full-time-equivalent” employee, because the hours they share add up to 40 hours a week. Therefore, part-time employees are grouped until they “equal” one full-time person.
Second, the figure excludes some agencies and some personnel within counted agencies. For example, Congressional reports state employees of the Federal Reserve, foreign service personnel at the State Department, and employees of most intelligence agencies are not represented in this count. There are various reasons for this, including that the number of the intelligence personnel is a matter of national security. That is a lot of people who will not be receiving training, based on the theory that white privilege and structural inequality are “propaganda.”
In fact, structural inequality has been proven in many ways. From restrictive covenants, redlining, and unfair loan conditions that greatly inhibited opportunities for BIPOC home ownership in the past, to studies showing that identical resumes displaying “white-sounding” and “Black-sounding” names will result in far higher rates of response for the resumes with “white” names today, according to a 2017 study, inequality is certainly a characteristic of American society.
This is not, however, the same as teaching that America is “an inherently racist or evil country.” It is simply acknowledging the reality that human society is imperfect but can also aspire to learn from its past and build a better future. In the same way that a women’s property no longer automatically becomes her husband’s when she marries (and that she may now decide to marry someone other than a man), we as a society are capable of recognizing what we want to leave in the past, and how we want to shape our future. If you have thoughts on federal employees being denied information pertaining to white privilege and societal inequality, Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and author of the memo, can be reached at @RussVought45 on Twitter, or via email at this page.
Questions to Consider for Week 7:  White Privilege and Housing
1. Talk about the racial composition of your street or neighborhood. How did the racial composition of your neighborhood affect your decision to move into this house or this neighborhood? Has that composition changed over time, and if so, how do you feel about the changes?
2. Share something that you learned through reading the articles about how white privilege affects housing markets. 
3.  What does the Washington Post article about housing and George Floyd add to our discussion of the impact of housing policies and practices on people of color?
4.  What do you think of the federal directive to discontinue trainings for federal employees that have to do with learning about/discussing white privilege and the effects of systemic racism?

Week 6: The Cash Value of Education, pages 69-73

This week we continue our exploration of The Cash Value of Whiteness by focusing on education. In Part 3, Chapter 2 of our curriculum (pages 69-73), John Dorhauer talks about “How Education Advantages Whites,” and asks what we are called to do in response to vast inequities in education between whites and almost every other race.

Also, if you have time, please watch “How America’s Public Schools Keep Kids in Poverty” (14 minutes):

And take a look at “Still Separate and Unequal,” a study published in 2015 in U.S. News and World Report:

Some Questions to Consider:

Thinking about your own education starting with K-12, how have the quality and quantity of that education affected your life? While your own intelligence, skills and entrepreneurial instincts may have contributed significantly to your achievements, do you think your education has given or deprived you of economic power? How would a different quality of education have affected your life?

What information drew your attention in the articles on education and race this week (Dorhauer article and US News and World Report)? 

Did anything in these articles on race and education surprise you?

What is your understanding of the goal of affirmative action?  What do you think about affirmative action policies?  Why do you think we as a nation have not supported affirmative action policies?

Can you help us understand the difference between corrective justice and distributive justice?

Week 5
We are beginning a new unit of our study called The Cash Value of Whiteness. In this section we will look at the intersection of race and economics in five different areas: the criminal justice system, education, housing, the income and wealth disparity, and health care. The curriculum reading for this week, pages 65-69, gives a brief introduction to thinking about the economic disadvantages for African Americans using the metaphor of a Black Tax—the price of being an African American that white people don’t have to pay.

Possible Questions to Consider:

How does the idea of a Black Tax help us understand the economic disadvantages of being an African American? Consider Stephen G. Ray’s categories of a municipal tax, a property tax and an education tax.

What services do you expect from your local police department? Have your tax dollars been well spent on your and your neighborhood’s behalf? Give an example. How do you think African Americans experience policing differently?

Stephen G. Ray mentions some examples of the cost or tax of unjust policing in Black communities, including bail bonds, lost wages and unexpected childcare expenses due to court appearances, and arrest records that affect employment chances. Ray sums up this cost/tax as an “intergenerational impact on both the accumulation of financial security, or lack thereof, and life opportunities that emerge from these resources.” Can you add to Ray’s list of COSTS of unjust policing in Black communities?

How have you experienced white privilege in your dealings with the criminal justice system?

In the U.S. Blacks are sent to prison 6 times more often than whites. One in 3 African American males will spend time in prison. How is the mass incarceration of Blacks, which is related to the school-to-prison pipeline, tied in with white privilege?

Because the intersection of race and the criminal justice system is such a significant current topic, we have added other optional readings in this area. Pick and choose among this list and bring whatever you find significant to the discussion on Sunday.

Last week the Washington Post introduced a series on systemic racism, “George Floyd’s America.” Here’s Part I: ”Born With Two Strikes.”

The UCC White Privilege curriculum includes a 4-minute music video, “Racism is Real,” that illustrates facts and statistics on the Cash Value of Whiteness:

Bryan Stevenson, Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy, speaks briefly here about the crisis in our criminal justice system.

This is another short clip by Bryan Stevenson about life without parole for children convicted of crimes and its racial implications.
If you want to learn more about the criminal justice system through Bryan’s perspective, you might watch the HBO documentary True Justice. This is a full-length documentary.

Here’s an introduction to Michelle Alexander, who has written passionately about the intersections between mass incarceration in The New Jim Crow. In this 13 minute clip, Alexander challenges us to reimagine our systems and see everyone as part of God’s creation.
Although somewhat dated (made during the Obama administration), this longer interview with Bill Moyers and Michelle Alexander allows us to hear more about the relationship between race and mass incarceration. (35 minutes)

WEEK 4, Sunday, October 11
Thanks to everyone who has participated so far, and a warm welcome to anyone who would like to join the conversation or just listen in.
This week we’ll be talking about ideas from Chapter 4 (pages 51-57): The White Jesus; and Chapter 5 (pages 58-63): Lightness and Darkness as experienced in the Genealogy and Liturgy of the Church.
These materials raise hard questions about how depictions of Jesus as white may affect our deepest assumptions about ourselves and God.
Our UCC team of writers also touch on a major difference between white and African-American Protestant faith traditions.
Read what you can, but please join us! This introduction will also be posted on the church web page.
1. Have you ever seen an image of a non-white Jesus in a church or worship setting? Can you remember how it affected you?
2. Would placing an image of a non-white Jesus cause a conflict in our church?
3. Do you prefer to see Jesus depicted as white? With gentle compassion for yourself, can you consider why?
4. Traci Blackmon, a black minister of the UCC, writes, “For me, white Jesus is a reminder of the dominant culture’s insatiable need for supremacy and the toxic roots of racism woven into the fabric of American Christianity.” (55)
How do you respond to what Blackmon is telling us? 
How do you think adding an image of a black or brown Jesus to our sanctuary would change your worship experience?
5. In our reading, Pastor John Dorhauer talks about taking his confirmation class (from a predominantly white church) to an inner-city black church, where his group heard a black youth choir sing.  Pastor Dorhauer told his group: “There’s no reason you couldn’t sing like that.” The pastor of the inner-city church overheard him and replied:  “Yes there is.”
What do you think the pastor’s reply meant? What implications might there be as we consider our own way of worshipping?   

Week 3: White Privilege Study

Thanks to everyone who has been able to participate in this study so far. Hearing each other’s stories is a rich experience and helps broaden the perspective of all of us.
This week we are working with two chapters of the curriculum. Chapter 2 (pages 38-42) Binary:Lightness and Darkness and Chapter 3 (pages 44-51) Iconography: The Investment in Whiteness in Narrating History.
These materials consider meanings we have assigned to the binary of light/dark and how often the history we have been taught has been told through the lens of whiteness. If you have time, read the two chapters. If not, join us anyway. These instructions will also be posted on the church web page under Adult Study if the email gets deleted.

Questions to consider in response to the reading:

  1. Try making your own list of words you associate with light and with dark. Do some of those words have a good/bad judgment associated with them? Can you see how those judgments may have been part of creating and sustaining white supremacy?
  2. Listen to the recording of James Weldon Johnson’s poem “Creation” read by Wintley Phipps. What strikes you as significant about hearing the creation story from the perspective of an African American poet and heard through an African American voice?
  3. This week’s curriculum offers us two examples of the ways U.S. history has often been taught through a white lens: Christopher Columbus and John Brown. How do you respond to hearing these histories retold from a different perspective? (You may want to watch the video clip that examines Columbus or read John Brown’s speech’sSpeech.html referred to in the curriculum.)
  4. How does the recent move to remove symbols of the Confederacy from public spaces (flags, monuments, etc) continue the conversation in this week’s reading?
  5. If you haven’t seen the film Hidden Figures, watch the trailer. (scroll down for trailer)
    How do films such as this one shift how we view history? Can you think of other films or books that seek to reveal “hidden” figures?
  6. How do you see cultural standards of beauty as part of looking at the world through a white lens?

White Privilege  Week 2:  Whiteness as the Norm
The White Privilege Study Group is up and running.  If you missed last week, feel free to join us this Sunday.  The topic for this week is Whiteness as the Norm:  Reflections on How this is Evidenced and Experienced.  In other words, how does whiteness impact our every day lives?  Where do we see our whiteness making a difference in how we experience the world? 
Because whiteness is often the norm, especially in Iowa, we may need some help in seeing how whiteness affects us if we are part of that norm (ie if we are white).  The reading this week, from both white people and people of color, gives us examples of how the writers experience whiteness as the norm. 
If you have time, we suggest reading the Introduction to the Curriculum (pages 2-4) by John Dorhauer. This curriculum can be found on the White Privilege Curriculum Tab under the Adult Study tab on this website.
Then read Pages 30-36, which is Chapter One in the Part  Two: Whiteness as the Norm (colored purple).  You get 5 short takes on the topic by 5 different writers, 2 white people and 3 people of color.  If a writer’s style does not appeal to you, just skip that section.  We are SKIPPING the Spiritual Autobiography section (pages 5-29) for now and will return to it later. 
If you can, spend some time with the questions on Page 36 in preparation for our discussion Sunday.  Again, the idea is to reflect on the multiple ways we experience whiteness as the norm in our lives and to consider how that shapes us.  (You may need to think pre-covid life when we had more interactions in the world!)
You might also take a look at this short video from The Guardian, which gives another person of color’s point of view on how he experiences whiteness as the norm.

Discussion Series: White Privilege, Let’s Talk (Week 1)

Curious about “white privilege”?

Annoyed by the term, but willing to explore the concept with people you trust, using materials provided by the UCC?

Faith Works looks forward to joining you for a weekly Zoom discussion series, White Privilege, Let’s Talk, to begin Sunday, September 20 after Worship.

If you have time, before that first meeting it may be helpful to take a look at two videos recommended by the UCC as resources for the curriculum.

First, a fast-paced, humorous 4-minute video, “Why Does Privilege Make People So Angry?”

Then a 22-minute video, “Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo.”

Note your questions, objections and other reactions.

To give you a sense of what to expect during our online meetings, here’s a link to the UCC curriculum    

Group Guidelines

Share time and space to talk with others

Speak from your own experience

Listen carefully before responding

Respect confidentiality

Pay attention to times when you feel defensive and be open to exploring what lies beneath your responses

If someone makes a comment you disagree with, let’s try to be gentle with one another, acknowledging we are all learners.  You might ask Why do you think that? Or Tell us more about how you came to believe that before you share your perspective.

If you say something that you regret saying, feel free to acknowledge it with a straightforward Oops.

Allow each other and ourselves to change

This could be fun. We will be making discoveries together, with “beginners’ minds.”

Hoping to see you on Sunday, September 20 after worship,

Carol Tyx and Ann Zerkel, co-facilitators for Faith Works.