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Session Five Activities

Before We Were White

Below is the activities portion of your session five homework assignment for White Awake's 2021 Before We Were White online course.


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Activities for Session Five

Now that we have completed four sessions of the course, and are preparing for the last two, we suggest that you consider all the activities assigned so far to be a repertoire from which to draw as we explore these last two windows. We offer some guidance for how you might do this in this unit’s activity section.


As you work with the window of Harm Endured, we hope you will visit your outdoor spot and notice the aliveness of everything around you; breathe, experience the more-than-human elements of this place directly through your senses; ground anything that is feeling ungrounded; and leave a gift, noticing if there is a gift to receive in return.

It may be beneficial to take time outside to consider the long line of harm your ancestors have endured, including the separation from their original relationship to land, animals, plants, and natural elements of a place where they once had deep roots. You might consider the circumstances under which they migrated (if you are living in a settler-colony), and how these circumstances – as well as the original disruption of earth-honoring traditions – influence your own relationship to place right now.

As you spend time outside, see if you can experience (through your body and your emotions) the degree to which you are not alone, to which humans are not alone. Notice if anything occurs to you that you would like to take action on, and notice if there is anything you would like to release by letting feelings / emotions flow out into the ground below you, where they can be stirred and purified, before returning as a purer form of energy and intention.


As you work with your altar between session four and session five, please draw upon (or build upon) the work you have done so far. You might want to read back through the altar activities listed under the past four sessions, and notice any exercise (or different way of approaching an exercise) that catches your attention. In addition, you might notice if there is anything you would like to add to your altar at this time – or anything you would like to remove and, if so, where the object you are removing might want to go.

As you spend time contemplating your ancestral story (and/or inviting ancestors who are well in spirit to spend time with you), we encourage you to set aside time to focus on the harm they endured and the ways this harm impacted them. Some or much of what you consider may be purely from your intuition or imagination. We encourage you not to censor yourself. We hope you will light a candle, or stick of incense, or use some other item to appeal to your senses and quiet your mind, or ground your body, and then consider these ancestors from a quiet, receptive place.

As you consider the harm your ancestors endured, you might explore the following questions: Did they resist? If so, how? What options were open to them? What options did they choose? To what extent did they have choice in how to respond? How did their lives change as a product of different events? What aspects of this harm have you inherited today? Is there anything you can do, now, that your ancestors were not able to do in the past? Is there anything you can carry forward on their behalf? Is there anything that one or more of your ancestors are communicating to you now?

Remember that ancestors can be related to you biologically, or by adoptive family, or they can be related to you via a social position you now inhabit (such as whiteness, gender, sexuality, etc.) If you feel grief, sadness, or other strong emotions, you might want to consider working with the water and salt ritual, envision yourself entering a soothing place, and/or inviting your protective companion to be with you as you consider the stories you’re working with in the study portion of your homework.

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