Discussing Race and Racial Identity

Resources for Youth Leaders

This lesson will help to notice and name racial identities while in a grounded state.

Quest for Life

Enhancer of Joy



60 minutes

Lesson Developed by

Seth Schoen and Christopher Carter


Grounding Ourselves in the Soil of Compassion

Tips to Prepare

Thorough reading of chapter and introduction to curriculum; practice guided meditation personally before leading youth through it.

Materials Checklist

  • A flipchart, whiteboard, or something to record participant responses upon
  • Markers

Setting the Atmosphere

Chairs should be set up in a half-circle facing the part of the room where the facilitator will be recording their comments.

Scripture Focus

Colossians 2:6-7 (CEB) – So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him.  Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught.


The goal of this session is to help the participants experience what it feels like to be in a grounded emotional state. While we are grounded we can begin to notice and name our racialized identities without being enmeshed in their reactivities.


In this session, youth will name the emotions that are present within them when they discuss race.


Gather (10 minutes)

    • Opening Prayer by the youth pastor or group leader. The prayer should lift up the importance of inner stillness so that we are better able to hear our conscious and the Holy Spirit. 
    • Greeting One Another – For this first session allow the participants to greet one another in whatever way they commonly do.
    • Introduction of Session – As a youth leader you must model the type of vulnerable sharing that will take place in this session. As such, your introduction should center on why racial reconciliation and healing are important to you. Moreover, the introduction should be conveyed as a story, perhaps a story about how excited/nervous you were to be in a conversation about race. The goal is to allow the participants to connect with you so that they are better able to process their own experiences of race and conversations about race. 


Engage (30 minutes)

Activity 1: Whiteboard Practice

  • After introducing the session you should transition to introducing the activity, the whiteboard practice (n.b. you do not need to use a whiteboard, however the student feedback needs to be recorded and visible to participants).
  • The core of this practice involves noticing, naming, and externalizing our difficult thoughts, feelings, and sensations. A crucial learning goal of this practice is the importance of emotions as sources of wisdom. 
  • To do this practice, ask participants to name the emotions that arise for them in conversations about race. As emotions are named, write them on a whiteboard until participants had named all they wished to share. This may take a few minutes before everyone feels comfortable sharing. As such the facilitator should begin by writing what comes up for them in these conversations.
  • After the comments seem to be finished, ask participants how often theses emotions have explicitly been part of conversations about race in their experience. The likely answer is that they never have!


Reflect (15 minutes)

  • Ask the participants to get into groups of two or three and reflect on the practice. How did they experience it?  
  • Invite students to share their experience with the entire group.
  • The purpose of this practice is to reconnect us with the importance of relationships of care. Remembering the moments in our lives that felt sacred to us reminds and reconnects us to the heart of what we do and who we are. This is our grounding! This is the place we need to return to when we feel as though we have “lost” ourselves in a reactive emotion.

Send Forth

Send Forth (5 minutes)

  • The purpose of today’s activities were to give the students an intellectual and experiential knowledge about the ways we embody race and racialization. For the closing, the group leader should highlight some of the key “aha” moments that were experienced today and reinforce the primary learning outcomes. Lastly, you should invite the students to notice when they are feeling reactive throughout the week and invite them to try the grounding practice on their own.
  • Closing Prayer

Related Video Clips

Yale Youth Ministry Institute