“Waking up to Race” – 3 Hour Daylong Workshop (2013)

WWA Truth Mandala objects above

Objects for Truth Mandala community ritual

This curriculum is designed by Eleanor Hancock, director and co-founder of White Awake. This workshop was first led with a group of IMCW practitioners, and volunteers with MINDS Inc, in 2013. The manifestation of these workshops deeply informed the creation of the website, and became the launching pad for White Awake as it currently exists. Eleanor maintains this curriculum, making changes and adjustments in keeping with the times and her own facilitation discoveries.


Designed for 15-20 participants.


Outline of Activities:

Review Shared Agreements (10 min)

“Body Scan” Sitting Practice (5 min)

“Why am I here?” (25 min)

Stand and stretch. Turn to a neighbor and thank them for coming.

5 minute break

Review basic themes of  “Who Invented White People” (10 min)
(refer to “White is a Racial Identity”, but do not do this entire exercise here – simply review information)

What is White Supremacy?” (30 min)
include time for whole group to share main points of article, as well as discussion questions (in pairs or intimate groups) that allow participants to share personal stories and/or reactions to the piece

5 minute break

View “The Wellbriety Journey to Forgiveness” (DVD) (40 min)

The Wellbriety DVD is approximately 70 minutes long, and includes material that may be triggering to some individuals in the group (see “Safety for Survivors of Trauma” under Guiding Group Work). The recommendation for this format is that one person view and decide on an edited portion of the video to share with the group that totals approx 30-35 minutes. It is important that what the group views includes both personal stories of boarding school survivors and their family members, as well as the conceptual framework that the video offers on historical grief and trauma and the community’s path to healing.

Introduce the video: “The Wellbriety Journey to Forgiveness” is a grassroots movement for healing from the historical grief and trauma of genocide and the Native American boarding school experience.

Refer to “Remedial Education” as a frame for the significance of bearing witness to this type of material while we are gathered as a group. Note three distinctive qualities of this video: it is a direct expression of those who have been subject to genocide and oppression; it clearly presents the way in which historical grief and trauma are passed down from one generation to the next; it outlines a path for healing.

While we watch the video, view it with these three questions in mind:

1: What is the experience of those who are racially oppressed (“their” story)? Note the way in which trauma is not something that remains in the past, but continues to live within the effected community through multiple generations of experience

2: In what way is “their” story “our” story? Note that the story of a victim is also the story of an abuser. As white people we not learning about “somebody else’s” story. We are learning about things that our own “cultural ancestors” did. (see “Cultural Ancestors” or “‘Their’ story is ‘our’ story” activity for more context).

3: “How does healing happen?” This is a grassroots movement of Native American people, and a powerful testament to their healing work. What is our healing work? What do we, as white people, need to heal? How can the journey of these Native American people inform our journey to healing?

We don’t have time to talk about these three questions today, but I encourage you to watch the video with this frame in mind.

5 minute break

“Truth Mandala” adapted for White Awake (30 min)

Consider this material for closing the Mandala:

James Baldwin: “This is the crime of which I accuse my countrymen, and for which I and history will never forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds and thousands of lives, and do not know it, and do not want to know it.”

What we are doing, as we bear witness to the stories of racism, is the opposite of this. It is to know, and to want to know.

Read from: Costs of Oppression to People from Dominant Groups

This is the power and the hope that we have – the knowledge of ourselves as members of a vast, interconnected system in which increasing our awareness benefits ourselves at the same time that it benefits the whole.

2 minute break, group time check

“What am I taking away?” (10 min)

“Toning” (5 min)

Return to Sample Curriculum table of contents