Values Clarification Exercise
(A very successful workshop idea is have name tags and assign roles to each participant giving them a description of their character asking then to act out the story. It is particularly interesting if the role of the white COO is played by a person of color. Then try to get the group to agree on which person’s behavior was the best and which the worst.)
Bill, a new Black mid level leader (clerk of a Monthly Meeting, line supervisor, etc.) is starting a Leaders of Color Support Group in the organization. He begins by asking Sydney, a white man who is the upper management, (COO, NEYM Secretary, etc.) for permission to organize the group, including advertising on bulletin boards, putting notices in the newsletter, and meeting in a room at the organization’s headquarters (yearly meeting offices) as well as travel expenses. Sydney approves the request. Fifteen managers of color sign up for the group.
(This can be a teachable moment as that some places this workshop has been done have difficulty imagining that many black people in leadership and the logical question is why.)
As word about the support group begins to spread, several other managers make comments. Jerry jokes with others at lunch that they should form a “White Managers Group.” Ellen, seated at the table, thinks this is in poor taste and understands the need for a leadership group for people of color but is concerned about staying neutral and nonjudgmental so says nothing. Sarah, another white manager also understands the need and she speaks in support, mentioning how important it will be for her friend and fellow member, Alicia another black committee member . Finally one white clerk, Mark, openly complains to Sydney. He says that having such a group is divisive, injects race into the process and is contrary to equality and may in fact itself be racist. Mark also accuses the black clerks of “playing the “race card” and lobbying for “special privileges.” He is especially bothered that the group is sanctioned by the Yearly Meeting, is allowed to meet on the premises during working hours and gets travel monies – clearly preferential treatment based on race, he argues.
Sydney is uncomfortable. He wants to diffuse the growing controversy and after consultation with a mediator group (Ministry and Counsel), reverses his initial decision, telling Bill that the organization can not explicitly endorse such a group. They cannot advertise or meet in the building or get travel monies. He says that while he supports the idea, it would be unfair to others in the the organization to actively sponsor a group designed only for certain managers. He advises that of course, they can do it on their own.
When Bill relays this information to the group, Alicia is very upset. Sarah speaks to Sydney about how important it is to support the leadership of people of color but Sydney doesn’t change his mind. Sarah also talks at length with Alicia. Later Alicia takes a marker and writes the word RACIST on Sydney’s door, an act that will ultimately get her and Sarah fired ( disowned from thier Meeting).
Rate each person in story
ask people individually to rate everyone in the story on a scale of 1 – 6 —
(best (rate a 1) to worst (rate 6), in the middle (3) etc. (form for this that may be printed is at the end)
FORM TO RATE PEOPLE IN STORY
Bill, a new African American clerk _____________
Sydney, a white NEYM Secretary ___________________
Local Meeting _____________
Yearly Meeting _____________
(rate everyone on a scale of 1 – 6 —– best behavior (rate a 1) to worst (rate 6), in the middle (3) etc.)
When everyone is done get people together in groups of 3-4, discuss answers and try to as a group come to agreement.
Then get together as a whole, debrief and try to get a unified answer.
consider how do you think your local group as a whole would rate it? The larger organization?
Other discussion questions
In doing this exercise, many people are surprised that in the story a clerk’s of color support group has enough qualifying people to form. Approximately 30% of the US population is a person of color so why is it almost inconceivable that 5% of our clerks would be people of color?
Think about then share the 1st time you saw a person of color at your group. Describe the situation and your reaction if any. Did or does it seem like they are ignored or a source of pride?.. how many? When? Did/do they continue to participate? What is your group’s reaction to consider why there are not more people of color?
Think about people in your group who are or have been clerk of the meeting or Ministry and counsel? Run through your mind the people appointed to that committee over the years. Think about the people at your group (those that attend at least every month), that you are pretty sure have never been in any of those positions. Is there a regular group that rotate in and out of those positions? Is the justification that “people all have different gifts all equally important”? This is a not so hidden hierarchy. It is possible for it to be as authoritative as any top down system. Now think again about the 1st time you saw a person of color at your group.