Status Roadmap

Status Map made by a dozen people at the Images of Transition workshop on 25 November, 2013.
This mapping activity explores transitions and how changes in our lives affect status. It can be done around a specific theme or multiple themes, as an exercise for one person or for an entire group. Below are instructions for doing this activity with a group around a chosen theme:

  • Colored index cards or paper to write on
  • Colored markers, pencils or crayons to write with
  • Colored tape (such as theatrical spike tape) or yarn to map with
  • A wall with 4 signs on it: "Higher Status" at the top, "Lower Status" at the bottom, "Long Ago" on the left, "Today" on the right
Each person does the following:
  1. To make your path distinctive, choose one color to write on, one color to write with, and one color to map with.
  2. Think of a transition around the given theme—something that you, or someone close to you, have gone through. What were the significant moments, incidents and sitautions along that path of transition?
  3. Write down each of these events on separate index cards.  Put them in chronological order.
  4. Use the tape to map your transition on the wall:  The X-axis is time, the Y-Axis is status. Decide what the relative status for your first event is and if that goes up or down for the next. Use the tape or yarn to link these events as you map them sequentially on the wall.
Discussion: Once everyone has contributed to the map, step back and look at it. What do you notice? What is the relationship between status and time? Where are the biggest concentrations of cards? Do people's transitions follow similar pats? What sorts of things are marked as higher or lower status? What are some recurring themes?

Variations: One person can do this exercise by picking a handful of transitions that they have gone through, each with a different theme. Do it on a piece of paper using a different color marker for each theme. Begin with the theme of aging—What are some significant events that have marked your age and how did they affect your status? What else can you map? Some other themes could be ability/disability, class/finances, education/work, faith/culture, language/geography, relationship/marital status, and so on.

a two-part Theatre of the Oppressed workshop

2 Session in Nov/Dec 2013
Facilitated by Morgan Andrews
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut Street
Tuition: $15-$35 sliding scale
Register at ""

Theatre of the Oppressed uses group games and techniques to dramatize our world as it is, and then create models for how we’d like it to be.

This 2-part workshop, which we ran on two separate occasions in November and December of 2013, focused on transition—both in our society and in ourselves—and how these transitions relate to shifts in power, privilege, oppression and liberation. Some such transitions could include:
  • A person who develops and adapts to a disability.
  • A child becoming an adult, then a parent, and then a grandparent.
  • A family whose economic status changes with time and circumstances.
  • A neighborhood being built, populated, abandoned, and repopulated.
  • A person whose sexual and/or gender identities go through shifts.
  • A person or group who undergo changes in faith and/or culture.
  • An individual whose identity is perceived differently depending on what group that person is associating with, or by the work they do.
Participants found common ground through sharing and enacting stories, then the group reshaped these scenarios into new possibilities.  On the days between the two sessions, we had some take-home assignments to deepen and support our work as a group.  These included:

We also developed a popular education technique called the Status Roadmap, which uses index card to show the ups and down that transitions bring us over time.

These session were also used to develop ideas for a workshop with Temple University's Institute on Disabilaties in March of 2014.

Finding Voice, Taking Action:
October 2013 Workshops

Monday Nights — Oct 14 • Oct 21 • Oct 28 — 7-9pm
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut St. • West Philadelphia
Tuition is sliding-scale • October 14th is free
Pre-register for one, two or all three workshops
via "tophilly@gmail.comor 215-730-0982
Workshop descriptions and facilitator bios below:
Uprooting the Roots 
of Theatre of the Oppressed
A FREE workshop with Morgan Andrews
Monday October 14th • 7-9pm

"We must all do theatre – to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become." —Augusto Boal

Theatre of the Oppressed is a system of drama-based techniques built upon the foundation of images, sounds, and words. In this fundamental workshop, we will play theatrical games and delve into exercises that break apart these building blocks and put them back together in new ways. This session is ideal for anyone new to Theatre of the Oppressed, as well as those who want to deepen their understanding of it. We will also highlight the power of voice and language as an introduction to the work covered in the following weeks' sessions.
Freedom of Voice: 
Building Better Speaking Skills
A workshop with Mason Rosenthal
co-facilitated by Morgan Andrews
Monday October 21st • 7-9pm
Suggested tuition: $5–$15

“Using the voice is a physical act, one that first announces the existence of the body of residence and then trumpets its arrival in a public space.” —Elizabeth Alexander

Come create strength, flexibility and greater resonance in your voice. By building up the connection between breath and body, we will tap into our own natural resonators and un-trap our voices to speak with greater timbre and color. We will also embody and vocalize our emotional selves to say things with fuller expression, confidence and authenticity. Whether you want to use these skills for communicating with groups, or as part of your craft, or even in casual conversation, this session will hand you some tools to speak without strain and hone your own innate instrument of voice.
Making Music 
Into Tools for Liberation
Facilitated by Julie Lipson
Monday October 28th • 7-9pm
Suggested tuition: $5–$15

"I use music as a medium to talk to people."—Sun Ra

So much of our energy is spent on words. We rely on words to express our needs and to understand ourselves and others. In this workshop, we will leave words behind and focus on the unique soundtrack that consists of our own sounds and rhythms. We will use music as a language to explore our connections with others, and experience a playfulness and authenticity that may be hidden under the small talk of daily life. Whether you're scared of using your voice, or you're an opera singer, this workshop is for you!————————————————————————————
About the Facilitators:

Morgan Andrews has been making art and theatre in Philadelphia since 1998. He helped start Philly's Puppet Uprising in 2000 and organized protests as parades and pageants with an international network of activists around the globe. Morgan discovered and trained in Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil, New York and India, and then founded T.O. Philly in 2008 as way to make this work accessible and affordable in his home city. He also teaches yoga and theatre around town, and creates plays with the Medium Theatre Company.

Mason Rosenthal is an actor, creator, dancer, director, and teacher from Skokie, Illinois. He holds a BFA in drama from NYU where he studied embodied voice with Katie Bull and community-based performance with Jan Cohen-Cruz. In 2007 Mason joined the faculty at NYU's Atlantic Theater Company Acting School before moving to Philadelphia to work for The Headlong Performance InstituteMason has since collaborated with many Philly artists—see his website for the ever-growing list!

Julie Lipson is a songwriter and music therapist with a flair for orchestrating participatory concerts for musicians and non-musicians alike. In 2009 she co-founded Camp Aranu'tiq, a bi-coastal summer camp for transgender and gender-variant youth. She also organizes call-and-response Jewish chanting events in spaces all over Philadelphia. Julie holds an MA from Drexel University's Creative Arts Therapies Program and began working with T.O. Philly in 2011. Her craft is a vibrant and playful mixture of all of the above.

All workshops are at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. in West Philadelphia (enter on the side facing the cinema)Pre-register for any or all of these workshops by emailing "" or call 215-730-0982. Work-trade is available.

Theatre of the Oppressed
for Mental Health Professionals

A workshop with Erika Barrington 
and Amy Capomacchio
Sunday • October 13 • 12:15–2:45 p.m.
at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave. 

A dozen people participated in this workshop tailored to mental health professionals—therapists, counselors, peer specialists, social workers, and the like. Over the course of the afternoon we used Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to embody images and dynamics within the mental health care system. We explored the role of the institution and opened a dialogue about the relationship between therapeutic goals and the goals of social change. This was also an opportunity for people who primarily use verbal therapeutic interactions to explore what embodiment adds to their work.

About the Facilitators:

Erika Barrington and Amy Capomacchio each hold a Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy from Drexel University. They began work with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed in 2010  and developed methods for bringing T.O. games and techniques into their work as therapists. This fall, they will present a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop at the American Dance Therapy Association's national conference in New York City.


Going finger-to-finger and sharing stories
about wanting more support. 
Here's an example of one of the many games developed by Augusto Boal that has been added onto and changed by many of us practicing Theatre of the Oppressed.  Shoulder-to-Shoulder is an ice-breaker that deals with our sense of touch as well as the issues of comfort that come up around touch.  In our Rehearsing Our Work session held in August of 2013, JD Stokely (who received our 2012 scholarship) led a version of Shoulder-to-Shoulder that expands this game into personal storytelling.

While Walking:

As people walk around the space, the facilitator calls out, "Shoulder-to-shoulder!" at which point everyone pairs up and continues to walk, leaning their shoulder against their partner's shoulder.  Facilitator can call out, "Switch partners!" and everyone transitions to leaning their opposite shoulder into a new partner's shoulder while continuing to walk around the space.  This can be further mixed up by calling out other body parts—head-to-head, back-to-back, toe-to-toe, and so on, with people switching which body parts make contact as they continue to navigate the space with one or more other people.

Many Parts At Once:

For this version, participants stop walking when the facilitator calls out strings of juxtapositions to all be done at once—shoulder-to-shoulder and knee-to-knee and thumb-to-thumb.  Once that's gotten awkward enough, facilitator says "Release!" and people continue to move about the space until a new series is called out.

These pairings don't need to be symmetrical.  Things like elbow-to-hand and ear-to-shoulder are valid calls.  In general, always move from the simpler and more familiar, to the stranger and more complex.


When the facilitator calls "Shoulder-to-shoulder," people pair up and stop walking.  Then facilitator says, "Now, share a story about your shoulder with your partner."  It's a good idea to choose body parts that are not too intimate as the stories themselves are often intimate.  A great one that Stokely gave us was "scar-to-scar" which resulted in a wide variety of combinations!

What the Game is Good For:

A great game both for people who already work together and for those just getting to know each other, Shoulder-to-Shoulder gets people moving and connected with each other.  Gauge your group's comfort level: trained dancers or actors might be more accustomed to less conventional exchanges of touch, while others may have their comfort zones stretched to a place that feels unsafe.  If a group if full of people who have difficulty being touched, the "safe zone" above the bicep has a lot of options—elbow, forearm, palm, back of hand and individual fingers are all areas where most people are accustomed to sharing touch (though wrists can be triggering for some).  Parts of the foot are good too, provided that folks are wearing shoes.  If people are comfortable with this and are having fun, things like shoulders, backs, ears and heads can be added.  Adding storytelling can put the game into context and further break the ice, loosening people up to talk to each other, knowing that we all have experiences and histories with our bodies.

Rehearsing Our Work:

Saturday August 24th, 2013 • 1:00pm–5:00pm
in Studio 34's BackSpace • 4522 Baltimore Ave
FREE when you pre-register by emailing
"" or call 215-730-0982

With summer wrapping up and the school year about to begin, T.O. Philly presents an open rehearsal for anyone who works with groups. Teachers, trainers, facilitators, organizers and educators of every sort are invited to come to this action-oriented think-tank with two critical components:

FIRST we will warm up by sharing and playing some great icebreakers and group games that we can use in our work.

SECOND we will reenact challenging situations that arise in our work, then use techniques from Theatre of the Oppressed to devise ways to surmount those challenges.

You will leave this short session with useful tools to make group work more productive and fun, as well as handy strategies for turning problems into solutions.

To reserve your spot, email "" or call 215-730-0982.  All experiences welcome, none required!

T.O. Philly News: Summer 2013

Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed (nickname: "T.O. Philly") uses theatre games and techniques as tools for rehearsing reality. We do this with people in Philly and elsewhere, either by invitation from a group or organization, or by leading workshops in our communities. This post highlights what we've done recently, and what we've got planned for the rest of 2013.

What We've Been Up To:

Graphic for a workshop we held in 2010.
See more graphics in our archive.
T.O. Philly had a busy spring, with travels to North Carolina to work with Paperhand Puppet Intervention, and to DC with Action Reconciliation Service for Peace.  Locally we had a few short workshops led by various facilitators. For one, Morgan Andrews led people through the Rainbow of Desire technique, and in another, Magda Scharf visited from Berlin for a one day workshop about religion. We also had several T.O.-related events focusing on gender, beginning with Qui Alexander's evening workshop. Qian Li came from California to present Theatre of the Oppressed at the Trans Health Conference, and we raised $1,000 for Camp Aranu'tiq, where a couple of us will be running workshops with trans and gender-variant youth this August.

Summer Retreat?  Not this year...  
Facilitation Workshop?  Yes!!!

A summer retreat was in the works (last year's retreat was a big success), but a variety of factors prevented it from coming together this year. In lieu of that, we're holding a free facilitation workshop on Saturday August 24th from 1pm to 5pm. This will be a session in preparation for the upcoming academic year, with a focus on working with students and youth (though not exclusively) and troubleshooting problem situations that may arise in classroom/group settings.  Click here for full event information.

Fall Series and More!

This fall we've booked Monday nights at the Rotunda and are planning on running two different weekly series—one in October, one in November—likely around the topics of gender and interrupting racism (see the Unpacking Race tab under "Who We Are and What We Do" for a recap of our last series about race).  We'll also continue working with students and faculty at Haverford College and University of the Arts, with Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Young Friends, with yoga teachers-in-training at Studio 34 in West Philly, and with the dancers and choreographers at Mascher Space Co-op in Kensington. As always, T.O. Philly facilitators are available to do this work for any organizations that want it—Contact us via "" for details!

Benefit for Camp Aranu'tiq

Friday • June 21st • Doors open 7:30pm
at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Avenue
Suggested donation: $10-$20
Click here for the Facebook event page

This summer, T.O. Philly facilitators travel to Camp Aranu'tiq (a Chugach word for a person thought to embody both male and female spirit) to bring Theatre of the Oppressed to youth leaders in the transgender and gender-variant community.  We're inviting you to get involved through this fundraiser party featuring a drag show and silent auction.

Drag talent includes MC OMG, Liberty City Kings, Ruby L.L. Voyager, Golden Delicious, The Happy Campers, Sebastian, Annie Witch Way and others.  Among the many auction items will be yoga, massage, tickets to Gayfest!, dogsitting, guitar lessons and acupuncture.

If you want to donate but can't make the party, click here to donate to Camp Aranu'tiq online.

Unraveling Religion

A one-day workshop 
facilitated by Magda Scharf 
and Morgan Andrews
Saturday • June 8, 2013 • 10am-3pm
at the Friends Center • 15th & Cherry
in Center City Philadelphia
Tuition $15-$45 sliding scale
Pre-register via ""

For the past 5 years, T.O. Philly has led interactive workshops on a number of different topics.  During these workshops, religion often pops up as a theme, but we've rarely had time to unpack it (or unravel it) as fully as we'd have liked.  For this reason we're partnering with Action Service Reconciliation for Peace (an organization that promotes German-Jewish dialogue, among other things) for a participatory half-day workshop about religion, open to all people of any creed.

The first hour begins with group introductions and explorations of what faith and/or religion mean for each of us:  What are our associations with religion?  How and when are they positive?  Negative?  Oppressive?  Or empowering?  In the second hour we weigh how different faiths, and their faithful, are perceived in our world(s) to delve deeper into discussion about religion in social and political contexts, both as a force of coercion as well as for liberation.  After lunch, we'll use the last 2 hours to share, act out and unravel personal stories through the technique of Forum Theatre to "try out" previously unseen opportunities for positive social change to our communities.

Unraveling Religion runs from 10am to 3pm, with a one-hour break for lunch in the middle.  This workshop is open to everyone with any range of life experience.  To reserve a spot, please email "".  Tuition is sliding scale, $15-$45.  No one will be turned away for lack of funds and work-trade is also available.

About the Facilitators:

Magdalena Scharf was born to German and Spanish parents, grew up in Iran and Brazil, and currently divides her time between Philadelphia and Berlin.  She has been involved in bringing LGBT youth from Germany and Brazil together for cross-cultural exchange, and works for the NGO Action Service Reconciliation for Peace, which fights racism, discrimination and social exclusion internationally.  She has been involved with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed since 2011.

Morgan Andrews is a North American activist-artist from a Muslim-Jewish-Catholic-Unitarian family.  He co-founded Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed in 2008 having trained at TOPLAB in New York, with Jana Sanskriti in India, and with T.O.'s late founder Augusto Boal. In addition to hosting workshops in West Philly, Morgan has jokered T.O. extensively for LGBT youth in Philly, with activists in Brazil, and with university students and faculty around North America.  Morgan also teaches at Studio 34 and Maha Yoga, and creates plays with the Medium Theatre Company.

Workshopping Gender

Presented April 2013 at Studio 34 in Philadelphia, and April 2016 for Outward Bound in Baltimore.

Back in 2013, Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed gathered a couple dozen people together for an evening all about gender facilitated by Qui Alexander. We mapped gender with charts, diagrams, and by moving ourselves around the room, and Qui led group exercises that aimed to:

  • define differences between sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender expression.
  • talk about different gender expressions, both inside and outside of the gender binary.
  • learn about trans and genderqueer identity and how to be an ally to gender-variant people.
  • think critically about our own genders and assumptions we have around others' genders.
One tool that helped people understand these concepts was the Genderbread Person.  Many iterations of Genderbread People have populated the web. This version is the simplest and a good introduction to distinguishing a few terms:

In 2016 T.O. Philly led a similar workshop for the staff of Outward Bound in Baltimore.

About the facilitator:

Qui Alexander is a queer Black Latino facilitator, trainer, consultant, organizer and yoga teacher who describes himself as a laugh-loving, shape-shifting and nerdy ball of fire.  Qui began LGBTQ advocacy work during his undergraduate years at Bryn Mawr College and continues to do that work in Philly with the Attic Youth Center and nationally with the Brown Boi Project.  Somewhere along the way, Qui accidentally got into yoga, wellness and social justice.  He has since committed himself to volunteering at his local community acupuncture clinic and teaching yoga to queer, trans and POC communities.  Qui combines all of these experiences to hold space for folks in different capacities, striving to affirm identities and open people up to the deeper places learning can take them while inspiring others to embrace change in all parts of their lives.

T.O. Philly News: Spring 2013

What an amazing winter it's been!  We had a great turnout for a day-long workshop on the Rainbow of Desire technique, and did some work with students at Haverford College and dancers at University of the Arts.   Ariel Morales and Morgan Andrews led a month-long curriculum on race and interrupting racism that included games and theatre pieces, as well as readings and videos, all of which are posted on this blog—See the Unpacking Race tab on the right for easy reference.  The series proved so popular that we will offer an expanded version of it again in the near future.

On April 23rd Qui Alexander led an evening workshop about gender, and on June 8th Magda Scharf visits from Berlin to lead a one day workshop about religion.  To sign up, send an email to "".  We're also seeking proposals for other workshops in spaces around Philly, as well as input and ideas for another summer retreat.  Please give us feedback by leaving a comment below.

In April, Morgan went to North Carolina to lead a free workshop for people interested in cooperative economics and food justice in Durham, and then an artistic development weekend for Paperhand Puppet Intervention, a theatre company that does incredible stuff around Chapel Hill and Raleigh.  He also went to Washington, DC and worked with 21 German volunteers who are in the U.S. for the year through Action Reconciliation Service for Peace.  Morgan also uses Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to make devised work with the Medium Theatre Company—Read about their latest project here.

Rainbow of Desire Workshop
Saturday March 16th 2013

A dozen-plus people came together at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia in this one-day workshop: The Rainbow of Desire.   We spent the morning playing getting to know each other through a series of games that loosened up the senses and pushed at our comfort zones, then went into to some deeper work after lunch before moving on to the Rainbow of Desire technique.  Here's a list of the activities we used in the morning:
  • Writing Our Desires:  As people arrived, each wrote down what they desired from the workshop on an index card, then boiled that down to one word.  We later used these words in another activity.
  • Expression Circle:  A name game to get acquainted and get the body active.
  • Walks:  Starting, stopping, moving quickly and slowly, making movements large and small, playing with proximity, eye contact, making oppositional movements and mirroring.
  • Machines:  We used a "generic" machine as an example, then made machines based on single-word desires from peoples index cards.
  • Image of the Word:  Again, taking single-word the desires from people index cards, people formed small group sculpture-poems.
  • Colombian Hypnosis:  We played this quintessential Theatre of the Oppressed game to get ourselves thinking, talking and feeling out dynamics of power and oppression.
After lunch, we went into the following:
  • Blind Tracker:  In pairs, one person plays a sighted animal, guiding their blind tracker through the darkness with only a single sound.
  • Technique: Mask of the Oppressor:  For a description, see Augusto Boal's book, Games for Actors and Non-actors.
  • Technique: Rainbow of Desire  For a description, see Augusto Boal's book of the same name.  In our version from this session, everyone ended up onstage to participate in a single person's story—half in the role of the protagonist's family members, half in the role of desires from the protagonist's own mind.
  • The Glass Cobra:  Another blind walking game in which the whole group breaks apart and then tries to put itself back together again...
To book a workshop, send an email to ""

Unpacking Race 2013:
A 5-Part Workshop Series

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3  Part 4 • Part 5

Our Winter 2013 Workshop Series
Co-facilitated by Ariel Morales
and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews

Theatre of the Oppressed combines experiences, images, sounds, movements and dialogue into ideas and actions for making social change.  For 5 weeks in the winter of 2013, we focused on the topics of race and racism.  Our aim was to create a safe space where participants could speak their own truth and start to do the important work of unlearning the systemic racism we’ve been taught our entire lives.  In our hope to offer participants healing from racial privilege and oppression, we offered some starting points for making structural and personal changes to undo racism in ourselves, our communities and our world.  Each 2-hour session mixed theatrical games and techniques with discussion, supplemented by take-home readings and practical assignments to be enacted in everyday life.

Curriculum, Week by Week

In this first session we establish a positive learning environment and explore definitions of race and racism to build a shared understanding of systemic racism and how it affects each of us.
This second session delves into the material consequences of racial construction for people of color.  We will also explore immigrant experiences in adapting to U.S. racial constructs.
February 18:  Institutional Racism
For this third session participants identify cultural and institutional privileges and advantages attached to “Whiteness,” and how institutional racism within housing, education, labor, media and the criminal justice system target people of color.  We also identify the myth of  “post-racial institutions.” 
In this fourth session we go deep into concepts of white privilege, internalized racism, collusion, microagression and also empowerment, examining how all of these things crop up in our own lives.
In this final session we strategize ways to take action against racism in personal, work and community settings by identifying our spheres of influence and how to empower ourselves to take action.

About the Facilitators:

Ariel Morales is a Puerto Rican and Ashkenazi American activist, facilitator and organizer currently working with Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy and Mariposa Co-op's Food Justice and Anti-Racism working group.  He is trained by the Multicultural Resource Center in Ithaca, New York to lead dialogue on race and racism. He is also a stone mason and holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning.  Ariel has been doing T.O. since 2011 and has been with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed since the summer of 2012.

Morgan Andrews is a Ukrainian-Irish-American activist-artist from a Muslim-Jewish-Catholic-Unitarian family.  He co-founded Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed in 2008 having trained at TOPLAB in New York, with Jana Sanskriti in India, and with T.O.'s late founder Augusto Boal. In addition to hosting workshops in West Philly, Morgan has jokered T.O. extensively for LGBT youth in Philly, with activists in Brazil, at student co-ops around North America, and for German citizens involved in reconciliation work.  Morgan also teaches at Studio 34 and Maha Yoga, and creates plays with the Medium Theatre Company.

Unpacking Race 2013 • Part 5:
Taking Action

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3  Part 4 • Part 5

In our final session of the Unpacking Race workshop serieswe strategize ways to take action against racism in personal, work and community settings by identifying our spheres of influence and how to empower ourselves to take action.  In the workshop, we used the Theatre of the Oppressed technique known as "The Mini Forum," a shortened version of Forum Theatre.

Spheres of Influence:

We identified four general social strata in which we encounter racism.  As "Spheres of Influence" we reenacted situations where we might have the power to interrupt racism:

  1. Self: Educating yourself, understanding your values and feelings, examining how you want to change.
  2. Close Family and Friends: Influencing the people closest to you.
  3. Social, School, and Work Relationships: Friends and acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, people with whom you interact on a regular basis.
  4. Wider Community: People with whom you interact infrequently or in community settings.


Our last batch of readings (for the workshop—keep reading and writing about race outside the workshop!) are about interrupting racism and how to be an ally.  They are:
  1. Breaking the Silence” by Beverly Tatum from White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism.
  2. Guidelines for Being a Strong White Ally” by Paul Kivel
  3. 28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors that Indicate a Detour or Wrong Turn Into White Guilt, Denial or Defensiveness,” by Debra Leigh

Here's a 4-minute excerpt of “Microaggressions In Everyday Life,” narrated by Derald Wing Sue, a video revealing how unconscious biased signals can be perpetuated by well-meaning individuals.  The full video is also viewable online.

Unpacking Race 2013 • Part 4:
White Privilege and Internalized Racism

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3  Part 4 • Part 5

In our fourth session of the Unpacking Race workshop series, we go deeper into concepts of white privilege, internalized racism, collusion, micro-aggression, and also strategies of empowerment, examining how all of these things crop up in our own lives.


This week we've assigned the following essays.  Click on the titles to view:
  1. Crazy Sometimes” by Leonard Pitts Jr. 
  2. Making Systems of Privilege Visible” by Stephanie M. Wildman with Adrienne D. Davis.
  3. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh (video version below).
  4. "Internalized Racism: a Definition" by Donna Bivens.   

Here's an excerpt from A Question of Color, Kathe Sandler's film on internalized racism among African-Americans:

And a video version of "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," Peggy McIntosh's anecdotal essay on white privilege:

Caucus Groups:

In the workshop we broke up into caucus groups for the purpose of discussing our different experiences.  The People of Color Caucus Group discussed the following questions:
  1. What thoughts or feelings do I have about meeting in caucus groups?
  2. How have I been affected by internalized racism and horizontal racism? How do I collude with the system of racism?
  3. How can I empower myself and others in the group to deal with racism in our lives, and to take action to end racism?
  4. What are the costs and benefits of actively confronting racism, and doing anti-racism work?
The White People Caucus Group discussed the following questions:us
  1. What thoughts or feelings do I have about meeting in caucus groups?
  2. How have I benefited from white privilege?
  3. How can I move from feelings of guilt and shame about racism to taking responsibility for my role as an agent of racism?
  4. What are the costs and benefits of becoming an ally to people of color and doing anti-racist work? 
After meeting in these caucus groups, the entire group reunited and reported back on what they'd discussed.

Unpacking Race 2013 • Part 3:
Institutional Racism

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3  Part 4 • Part 5

In our third session of the Unpacking Race workshop series we identify cultural and institutional advantages attached to "Whiteness," and how institutional racism within housing, education, labor, media, and the criminal justice system target people of color.  We also identify the myth of "post-racial institutions."


This week we feature readings about different aspects of institutional racism:
Writing Assignment:

Keep a race journal:  Whenever you notice something in your life that relates to race, write about it.  We learn so much from reading about race and racism, from talking about race and racism, and in these workshops we also create images and theatre about race and racism.  Making time for self-reflection is also very powerful.  When journaling about race, take a look at the following chart.  How does this Cycle of Socialization relate to your own experiences with race and racism throughout your life—this week, last year, growing up and possibly in the future?

Cycle of Socialization, developed by Bobbie Harro

Unpacking Race 2013 • Part 2:
Social Construction of Race

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3  Part 4 • Part 5

Our second session of the Unpacking Race workshop series focuses on the material consequences of racial construction for people of color.  We also explore immigrant experiences of adapting to U.S. racial constructs.

Definitions and Activity:

We played the Vehicle Game (click here to for details) and then used it to illustrate the following terms (borrowed from the Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice curriculum—see week 1):
  1. Institutional Racism: A system of advantage based on race and supported by institutional structures, policies and practices that create and sustain advantages for the domi- nant white group while systematically subordinating members of targeted racial groups. This relative advantage for Whites and subordination for people of color is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms, and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.
  2. Individual Racism: The beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. Individual racism can occur at both unconscious and con- scious levels, and can be both active and passive. Examples include telling a racist joke, using a racial epithet, or believing in the inherent superiority of Whites.
  3. Active Racism: Actions that have as their stated or explicit goal the maintenance of the system of racism and the oppression of those in targeted racial groups. People who participate in active racism advocate the continued subjugation of members of targeted groups and protection of “the rights” of members of the advantaged group. These goals are often supported by a belief in the inferiority of people of color and the superiority of white people, culture, and values.
  4. Passive Racism: Conscious and unconscious beliefs, attitudes, and actions that support the system of racism, racial prejudice, and racial dominance and contribute to the maintenance of racism, without openly advocating violence, discrimination, or an ideology of white supremacy.
After we created moving sculptures to illustrate these forms of racism, we broke up into small groups and talked about the way these different kinds of racism manifest in our own lives, and how we might have the power to change these situations.

Readings and Videos:

This week's readings are drawn from the book White Privilege: Essential Readings from the Other Side of Racism, edited by Paula S. Rothenberg.  Workshops particpants have the option to read one of the following chapters:
  1. Becoming Hispanic: Mexican Americans and Whiteness” by Neil Foley
  2. How Jews Became White Folks” by Karen Brodkin
  3. How White People Became White” by James E. Barrett and David Roediger
We also included the essay "Reflections By An ARAB JEW" by Ella Habiba Shohat.  Click on the titles of any of these essays to access the article online.

We've also included another 6-minute video excerpt from Race the Power of an Illusion: The Story We Tell, plus a 45-minute interview with Juan Gonzalez from DemocracyNow! on how U.S. intervention caused mass Latin American migrations.  The Democracy Now! video is viewable by clicking here, the excerpt from Race the Power of an Illusion can be viewed below: 

The Vehicle Game

We are starting to post rules for games and techniques! If you've used this game, have variations to add, or have questions about how this and other games are played, leave us a comment.

Can you guess what this vehicle is? Let us know.
Guess correctly and we'll send you a poster!
This theatre game works well for building teamwork, working under pressure and developing the language of images. You need a group big enough to split into two or more teams of 5 to 10 people each. You'll also need space for these teams to work simultaneously and separately.

The Basic Game:
Each team uses their bodies to construct the image of a vehicle—that is, a mode of transport that will be recognizable by the members of the other teams. The vehicle must also be able to travel across the space as a moving human sculpture that includes sound effects. Once all the teams have completed this task, one team shows their stationary vehicle. The others make observations and guesses as to what the vehicle is. Then the vehicle moves and makes noise, either confirming the guesses or not. The round ends with the team revealing what their vehicle was, and the next team has a go.

The Next Level:
The first stage of this game gets people to create "Theatre."  This next stage adds "...of the Oppressed." First have a list of different forms of oppression that you want to illustrate.  In a general T.O. workshop, these can be very broad:  sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, heterocentrism—the group may even decide on several topics themselves.  If the group is working on a particular issue, the topics will be more specific and nuanced:  active racism, passive racism, individual racism, institutional racism, etc.  The facilitator quietly assigns each group an oppression to be made into a machine—or "vehicle"—to be shown and performed for the other groups to guess.  Allow more time for each phase of this exercise, especially for when others are looking as the image, prompting discussion about the various forms of oppression and why people see what they see.  Once all of these Vehicles of Oppression have be viewed and guesses have been made, all groups reveal which was which, sit down and discuss what was discovered.

The basic game can be played with any sort of mechanism, be it a household appliance with moving parts (such as a clock or a dishwasher), a ritual performed by a person or people (brushing one's teeth or going to vote), or larger social systems made miniature by the metaphor of theatre (education, commerce, government, patriarchy, childhood, etc.) As with all Theatre of the Oppressed games, the permutations are endless!

Photo above of one team's vehicle image in a workshop at the Muktadhara III Theatre of the Oppressed Festival in West Bengal. Leave us a comment below with your guess as to what they are. Guess correctly and we'll send you a poster!

Unpacking Race 2013 • Part 1:
An Introduction to Race and Racism

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3  Part 4 • Part 5

On February 4th, 2013 we kicked off our 5-week series on Unpacking Race.  Goals of the first workshop session were to build trust, establish a positive learning environment, and explore definitions of race and ethnicity.  Using written words and spoken stories—along with images and movement created by the body—our group got began its shared understanding of systemic racism and how it affects each of us.

Definitions and Activity:

To begin talking about race and ethnicity, we started with some definitions borrowed from the Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice curriculum.  While people in our group took issue with the exact wording of these definitions, we used them as a base for talking about race:  
  • Race: A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, which serve social, economic,and political needs of a society at a given time.
  • Ethnicity: A social construct which divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base and can be self-selected and imposed or both at the same time.
After sharing the above definitions of race and ethnicity, each person in the group stated what their race and ethnicity was.  We then divided into smaller groups to discuss our experiences.  As a baseline for these discussions, we worked with the following four agreements from Courageous Conversations about Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools:
  1. Stay Engaged
  2. Experience Discomfort
  3. Speak Your Own Truth
  4. Expect and Accept Non-closure
For more on these agreements and other definitions for discussing race and racism, see the readings below.

Readings and Videos:

Throughout this series we are assigning things to be read and watched before coming to each workshop.  These materials deepen our understanding of the racial construct by giving us a chance to see its historical development, an essential part of understanding how it persists today.  Whether you're enrolled in the workshop or not, you can click on the titles to link to the following essays:
  • All workshop attendees, please read Drawing the Color Line,” from A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.  
  • For tools in talking about race and racism, we recommend reading Four Agreements of Courageous Conversation,” from Courageous Conversations about Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools by Glenn Singleton, Cyndie Hays and Curtin Linton.
  • For a shared set of terms to use in talking about race and racism, look at “Definitions on General Concepts: Racism,” from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, Adams, Bell and Griffin.
  • Below is a 6-minute excerpt from Race the Power of an Illusion: The Difference Between Us.  You can see the full hour-long episode at by clicking here.