A Non-toxic Race Dialogue Board Game to Promote Cross Racial/Cross Cultural Amity Developed by the National Center for Race Amity
Game Objective: To encourage and assist people to talk about race in a non-toxic manner with a focus on amity, emotional safety, learning and mutual support. Conversations about race are often contentious and discourage open and supportive dialogue. By practicing amity and cultivating friendship, we create environments where we can feel safe to admit to what we don’t know, ask difficult questions and support each other in a spirit of learning.
The game is not a competition, but a means of developing capacity for safe conversations on race. Participants are always engaged in dialogue, even when it’s not their turn. The game is played by up to eight participants and takes place over seven sessions over a period of weeks or months as decided by the participants. Suggested game time is one to two hours per session depending on the number of participants. It is recommended that participants commit to attend all sessions. There are two versions of the game. A Grade 7-12 Version and a Post-Secondary version. The games are appropriate for pre-teens through senior citizens and can be played in diverse settings from corporate boardrooms to girl scout dens, with participants being from any gender, racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, sexual orientation, and occupational backgrounds.
One of the more important aspects of Breaking It Down Towards E Pluribus Unum is that it empowers lay people to engage in dialogue. It does not require race relations expertise or any special training. An electronic App is being developed to support play of Breaking It Down Toward E Pluribus Unum.
OVERVIEW: HAVE A MEANS OF PLAYING THE DVD THAT COMES WITH THE GAME. GO AROUND GROUP WITH EACH PERSON SHARING THEIR NAME AND BRIEFLY WHAT BROUGHT THEM TO PLAY THE GAME. The game board is laid out in a circular design. There is no beginning or end. There are four areas for cards used in the game, one for Dialogue Cards, one for Reflection Cards, one for New Question Cards, and one for Used Cards. The inner circle on the playing board has Check In Questions to support the game process. (See Game Direction “F. “ below.)
GAME INSTRUCTIONS: Read through the Game Instructions before playing the game
1. At the first session go around the group and share your name and what brought you here, or in subsequent sessions, what brought you back.
2. Someone from the group volunteers to serve as the Group Convener for the first session. The Group Convener role rotates among the participants at each new session. At the beginning of each session, the Group Convener reads the following to the group
Breaking It Down Towards E Pluribus Unum Centering Statement
As participants in this session of Breaking It Down Toward E Pluribus Unum, we are here to create a safe space to learn about race and race amity. Race amity is not simply cross-racial friendship, but a conscious commitment to participating in meaningful cross-cultural relationships that allow us to express our many layered identities and to accept and support one another in our efforts to divest ourselves and our communities of racism. These relationships are not static but grow and evolve, and are the means by which we can begin to “break down” the many obstacles that keep the discourse on race in a cycle of blame, grievance and rejection. These relationships help push ourselves to develop insight, understanding, and progress towards our country’s founding vision that we are, out of many, one. This vision embraces the scientific truth and moral principle that we are one human family.
3.Begin the game with each participant selecting one of the eight tokens and placing it on any space of their choosing on the board. Each player also takes one New Question Card from the New Question stack. The game is set up as a circle. There is no “start” or “finish” and there is no winning or losing. The Group Convener rolls the die first to move their token around the game board. After the Convener completes his or her turn, the play move clockwise around the group.
4. The circle has the following spaces:
A. Eight Dialogue Spaces: When a player land here, the participant to the player’s right picks up a dialogue card and reads the question for the player to answer. After offer the response, the group is free to engage in an open dialogue. The group can face challenging questions together by offering and drawing on the support of one another. After answering the question, place the used dialogue card on the Used Card Pile.
B. Four Reflection Spaces: When players land here they draw a Reflection Card and read it aloud. The Convener or a participant with a cell phone should set a timer for one minute for silent reflection, and inform the group when the minute is up. After the time is up participants may offer commentary on the reflection if they wish. After comments on the reflection, play continues with the next player’s turn.
C. Three Safe Spaces: When you land here, you get to ask the group a question about race – something that is important to you that you don’t usually feel safe to ask.
D. Three Support Spaces: When you land here, the participant to your right will share some words of support with you. (Be ready to support the participant to your left!)
E. Three Learning Spaces: When you land here, share something you’ve learned about race or race amity during your lifetime.
F. Three Check-in Spaces: These spaces provide an opportunity to check in about how things are going in the group. When players land here, they choose one of the Check-In questions on the inner circle of the board to pose to the group. The questions are:
Are we all engaged? – Are we creating a safe space? – Are we supporting each other? – Are we learning? -Are we sharing the air?
G. One New Question Space: When players land here, they take a new question card.. This card, like the one given at the beginning of the game, allows the participant to request another question if the original question drawn was too challenging. Each participant can acquire additional New Question cards each time they land on the new question space. Additionally, a player may give their New Question card to another player if they choose. New Question cards are placed in the used card pile when used and cannot be reused. All used cards (those cards that have been read aloud, e.g. Dialogue, Reflection, and New Question cards) are placed in the used cards pile.
Things to think about: Be aware of how you tend to contribute to the group – Do you process out loud? Do you do most of the talking? Do you need time to think and keep your thoughts to yourself? Try to be aware of other participants and nurture universal participation. Try and couch questions that are critical in a non-hostile tone. Challenge yourself to be courageous if you tend to hold back, and to be patient if you tend to speak a lot. If the conversation starts to feel imbalanced try saying things like:
“I wonder what some of our more quiet participants are thinking.” “Maybe we can take a few minutes to think about this question before we jump in.” “Are we sharing the air?”
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