World Trust

5 Steps for Using “Trip to the Grocery Store” to Talk about Race

Posted by Lisa Abbott on October 14, 2014

Joy_DeGruyPhD_in_Cracking_the_Codes Want to start engaging others in authentic conversation about race, but don't know how to begin? Or, did you recently hold an equity & diversity session and vow to keep the conversation going? Take the support of the popular clip "A Trip to the Grocery Store."

These five steps show you how to start small and practice leading a group conversation using this clip as a focal point.  No professional training in diversity activity facilitation is required, and these steps can be covered in less than an hour. Gather a few people together and go for it. Let us know how it goes!

  1. Make it about learning.
    Instead of a stated goal of problem solving, invite colleagues, family or friends to gather with the intention of learning something new. Then when you come together, ask people to share what they hope to get from a conversation about race. This can help create an environment of connection and trust.

  1. Take time to review the System of Racial Inequity.
    All great stories, like the one in this clip, are personal. When talking about a story that deals with racism, it can be tempting to focus on individual behavior as the problem. However, it is important to understand that a self-perpetuating system is the bigger context and driver of inequity.

    • Providing a frame gives people a common understanding of the dynamics at play, and will enable deeper conversation. Using the World Trust graphic of the system is helpful; it can be found here.

    • Tip: The World Trust frame contains some important concepts like white privilege and structural racism.  Brush up by referring to the glossary in the Cracking the Codes Conversation Guide ahead of time and have it on hand.

  2. Watch the clip “A Trip to the Grocery Store” together.

This clip, embedded below, is an accessible, engaging 4 minute story shared by Dr. Joy DeGruy in the film Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity. Viewed online over 1 million times, it validates the experience of many people of color while showing white people how they can use their cultural privilege for positive change in every day life.

  1. To start the conversation, simply ask: "What stood out for you?"
    This question affords people of all ethnic backgrounds a doorway into sharing their own experience of race. Sharing personal experience, rather than opinion or ideas, builds community and connection with others. It also enables everyone to practice listening and learning from each other.

    If your group is four or larger, it is a good idea to pair off for dialogue. This way, there is less pressure to get it "right" and more possibility for personal connection. Keep the conversations brief. Depending on how much time you have, 7-15 minutes is fine.

  1. Move forward.

Bring dialogue to a close. Feelings in the room may run the gamut. Some may be energized by new learning, or relieved to finally connect with others. Others may feel quiet or unsettled as they take in the impact of inequity or reflect on their own pain. All of this is to be expected.

Remember, you aren’t trying to solve or fix anything. To integrate the experience and move forward, we recommend that you focus the group on learning and next steps. What new questions have emerged?  What ideas do people have for further learning or action?

Congratulations!  Authentic dialogue about race is rare. Regardless of the next steps you take, simply by fostering a conversation you have done something courageous, healing, and important. 

This same process can be used with other World Trust clips to gain deeper understanding of the system of inequity, and to build the skills to analyze and talk about race. Clips are available on our YouTube channel, WorldTrustTV.

World Trust produces diversity training videos and curricula resources to support equity efforts in education, health care, nonprofit, philanthropic, faith-based and governmental institutions. Our facilitators engage thousands of people each year in cultural diversity workshops that are rooted in love and justice.

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Topics: Film: Cracking the Codes, How to