Youth Gathering 2018


#decolonizeLutheranism was truly blessed to be able to participate in the triennial ELCA youth gathering June 27-July 1 2018, in Houston Tx, where we presented an exercise in which the youth created strings of privilege beads to be worn as bracelets or displayed in a location where they will be easily seen throughout the day.

Information about the exercise is listed below, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to share with us your stories and pics of how the activity went in your own context!
Privilege Bead Bracelets

Purpose: Scripture talks a lot about how personal characteristics precious to us (eg. gender, age, race, disability, etc…) are often despised by others. What’s more, some of these characteristics overlap, making us even more beautiful/vulnerable. This activity, then, will use Bible characters to show how these criss-crossing identities (intersectionality) impact us and others by having each attendee select beads by color and number in such a way that these vulnerabilities and privileges are made visible and tangible. When we aren’t aware of our privilege, it can seriously complicate the work of the church – community building, the struggle for justice, preaching the Gospel.

What is Privilege? Privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people – often simply because of the circumstances of their birth.

Start by threading a 3 pointed tri bead onto your string until it is 2 inches from the bottom end. Tie a knot to secure.

Religion – Add a Red pony bead for each statement in this section that applies.
1. I can assume that my employer or school will give me time off for my religious holidays.
2. In this neighborhood, I can easily find food that honors my religious heritage.
3. Places to worship or practice my religion are easy to find in my community.
4. References to religion where I work or go to school are frequently about my religious beliefs.
5. I do not need often fear for my safety when disclosing my religious identity to others.
6. I’m confident that, if i were in a hospital, I could have access to a chaplain that understands my religion.
*Add a tri bead to your string.

Gender/Sex – Add a Yellow pony bead for each statement in this section that applies.
1. If I have children and a career, few people will ask me how I balance my professional and private lives.
2. If I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my gender.
3. I do not have to often think about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability.
4. Major religions in the world are led mainly by people of my gender.
5. When I go out in public, I do not often have to consider whether I am in
physical danger simply because of my gender.
6. In general, I can assume that no one will argue with me about what my gender is, or if my gender exists.
*Add a tri bead to your string.

Nationality – Add a Blue pony bead for each statement in this section that applies.
1. People around me generally assume that I can speak the local dialect.
2. I have never been told not to speak in my native language.
3. People in the country where I currently live do not assume I am a danger because of my nationality.
4. People from my country are visible and positively represented in politics, business, and public discourse.
5. When I apply for jobs, my legal right to work in this country probably will not be questioned during the interview.
6. When I publicly engage in cultural practices important to my ethnic or national identity, i do not need to worry that i will be verbally or physically attacked.
*Add a tri bead to your string.

Ability – Add a Purple pony bead for each statement in this section that applies.
1. I can easily enter most buildings.
2. I am generally safe from disability-related bullying and rejection.
3. I can do well in challenging situations without being told what an inspiration I must be to others.
4. I can easily see the letters on this page.
5. If someone needs to tell me something important, they can easily do so verbally, in a wide variety of settings.
6. I am reasonably certain that others do not think that my intelligence is lacking, just because of my physical status.
*Add a tri bead to your string.

Orientation – Add a White pony bead for each statement in this section that applies.
1. I could reasonably expect to formalize my love relationship legally through marriage throughout the country.
2. I am seldom harassed because of who I find attractive.
3. If I want to, I can easily find a religious community that welcomes persons of my sexual orientation.
4. No one questions the “normality” of my sexuality, or asks me why I “chose” my sexual orientation.
5. I can go to the doctor’s office and easily find sex education literature that is inclusive of my sexuality.
6. I would not be denied an adoption because of my sexual orientation.
*Add a tri bead to your string.

Socio-Economic Class – Add a Green pony bead for each statement in this section that applies.
1. My family owns our home.
2. My family can afford to eat regular meals.
3. I usually go on vacations at least once every 3 years.
4. It has been at least 2 generations since my family was homeless.
5. Within the past three years, I have travelled outside my birth country and returned.
6. If my car broke down tomorrow, I could likely afford to get it repaired in a week or less, or I could likely afford public or private transport to get me to important activities (work, school, grocery store, etc.)
*Add a tri bead to your string.

Race – Add an Orange pony bead for each statement in this section that applies.
1. I can usually go shopping alone without being followed or closely watched by store employee because of my race.
2. I (or my parents) am not often faced with questions or assumptions that I got into my career of choice because of my race.
3. If police stop me, I do not generally fear for my life.
4. I am rarely asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
5. I can publicly express intense emotions (anger, sadness, etc.) without needing to consider whether I am causing people to have negative thoughts about my entire racial group.
6. I can reasonably expect to go out in public without people commenting on my race.

We also invite and encourage you to complete this privilege bead exercise for characters in scripture. How did their social location affect how they interacted with one another and the world in which they lived? What did it mean for Mary to be a woman? For King David to be bisexual? For Job to go from being wealthy to being poor? Incorporating examinations of privilege into our bible study can greatly impact our own understanding of God’s word.

Adapted from Privilege Bead Exercise by Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, Prof. Brenda J. Allen, University of Colorado, Denver, and Privilege Exercise by Gerakina Arlene Sgoutas and colleagues, Metropolitan State College; Denver, CO.