Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Telling Stories for Racial Justice

Workshop Number: 
Lucy Duncan, Sharon Goens-Bradley
Who may register?: 
Open to All (adult & high school)
Experiential Activities: 
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)

"Every movement begins with the telling of an untold story." Uncover stories that reinforce white dominance and tell stories that reveal pathways toward a future of equality. Draw from our spiritual roots to examine what gets us stuck, and learn tools to tell a story that can interrupt racism.

Workshop Description

Stories shape how we see the world and how we consequently act in the world. Within the context of our white privileged culture, we breathe in and receive standard narratives like the American dream, which reinforce white dominance while creating a mask of fairness and equity. In this workshop we will explore the stock narratives we've all received, the concealed stories that don't align with the myths we've learned, and stories of solidarity and transformation that offer new narratives that can assist us in moving beyond the status quo and toward racial equity. Every participant will have time to tell an original story and work with it in the group.


Each morning we will open with worship sharing, followed by exercises and art activities that explore these stories: our own and those of others in videos and on the page. We will work each day with practices that help us to compose stories of our own that uncover the injustice of the system or offer a path towards true "solidarios" (an understanding that we are all connected). Each morning we will conclude with worship to make space for quieter stories among us and for reflections on what we've learned and heard. These stories make visible the Kingdom of God within and that we are working to manifest in the world.

Activities will likely include

  • Memory work reflecting on early conversations or encounters around race or racism, writing about the experience and sharing it with a partner.
  • An experiential activity in which we will explore systems of oppression, the roles and inner life of the participants in the system and how responsibility plays out and can be shifted.
  • Practice storytelling techniques that enable each of us to embody our individual experiences as part of a collective narrative.
  • Exploring tools for composing and learning oral stories.
  • We will teach a four part listening process that assists participants to tell and shape their stories in a deeply supportive atmosphere.

We will recommend some reading, but not require it before the workshop.

We will request that participants bring objects of significance to their journey with their own racial identity for one activity.

This workshop draws from the work of Niyonu Spann of Beyond Diversity 101.

About the leaders :

Lucy: I've led storytelling workshops for nearly 20 years, more specifically spiritual storytelling workshops. LasTwo years ago I co-led a storytelling for social justice workship at the FGC Gathering with Roxanne Seagraves, which was fairly well received, last year I co-led this workshop with Sharon and participants seemed very appreciative.  I lead workshops for AFSC regularly on AFSC's work, on storytelling, on becoming allies for people of color and others. I co-led a workshop on spirit-led activism with Shan Cretin at the FGC Gathering in 2012. Sharon and I co-led a storytelling workshop for change at the Northern Yearly Meeting last summer that was well attended and well received. 

Sharon: I am currently the Healing Justice program director for the Twin Cities, MN office. Prior to my work with the AFSC I worked for the St. Paul Foundation's anti-racism initiative, Facing Race. While at the foundation, I facilitated dialogues about race, racism and white privilege throughout the state of MN. I have a long time interest in storytelling and co-led a storytelling workshop with Lucy at Northern Yearly Meeting.


Leader Experience

From Sharon: Our workshop last year was highly interactive and worked well. Typically the workshops I've led or co-led include some lecture to help provide information and structure followed by partner or small group work. My workshops usually involve a larger group debrief, and plenty of opportunities for questions and comments.  

From Lucy: All the workshops I've led in the past few years have arisen from the sense that there is much wisdom in the group and that we are there to teach one another.  Certainly as a facilitator I take that responsibility seriously, for guiding the group and for providing the information needed by the group, but it's hard to imagine leading a workshop that was all or mostly lecture. Sharon and my co-leading style last year resulted in both enough structure and flexibility to achieve our goals and really go deep with the group.  We had a sense of enough time and presence to really take the participants into a safe and challenging space.

When have you most recently attended an FGC Gathering of Friends?: