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Questions for Discussion
1) Joy Angela DeGruy writes of the authors, “…they neatly weave their individual perspectives of events and experiences; sometimes in such sharp contrast that it is difficult to believe they were in the same place at the same time.”
2) DeGruy writes, “For Sharon, race is a ‘real’ place where she has lived her whole life” and “For Tom, race is a place he has only recently chosen to visit.”
3) Sharon was confronted by an angry white man in the parking lot of her local post office.
Chapter 1: The Recalcitrant Bat
4) Susan and Will encountered people of color who were descended from people their white ancestors enslaved and to whom they were related by blood.
5) Sharon and Tom felt led by ancestral spirits.
Chapter 2: Castaways from Security Island
6) People who grow up in the North experience racism differently than people from the South.
7) This chapter introduces the “Cycles of Violence.”
Chapter 3: Friends on Purpose
8) Sharon and Tom built a purposeful relationship and created a series of experiences to grow and test that relationship.
9) Tom and Sharon encountered several “faith traditions” along their journey. The Mennonites are considered one of the “peace” churches with a focus on healing from trauma, and peacebuilding. Bahá’ís espouse a core belief in the oneness of humanity.
10) Sharon was uncomfortable in “backabush California.” Tom was uncomfortable in Harlem. Neither of them felt completely comfortable with each other’s families.
Chapter 4: Lizard Brain
11) This chapter discusses how people learn and discern “truth.”
12) The authors describe slavery experiences of people at ages 2, 5, 8, and so on.
13) Sharon finds it “almost impossible to imagine reconciling with white people.”
14) Research in neuroscience indicates that racial prejudice is rooted in the brain, has been inherited down through generations, and still governs our instincts today.
Chapter 5: Many Rivers to Cross
15) It seems that every major town, like Chicago, has a street named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that is invariably located in the black section of town.
16) America is a land of immigrants. People, black and white, have always been on the move. During the Great Migration, millions of African Americans left the South for the North.
17) There are many cities that remain segregated, including Chicago, which is still considered the most segregated major city in the United States.
18) Sharon expressed the fear that white people might herd black people into concentration camps, just as the United States has done in the past to American Indians, Japanese and Italian Americans.
Chapter 6: The Past is Present
19) It is a given that people are most comfortable around those who are like them. Tom is from Oregon, which was designed to be “white on purpose.”
20) Sharon and Tom both have ancestors they would rather not be related to.
21) Bettie Warfe and Robert Gavin had a long-term relationship and 17 children together. Such relationships between white men and black women were not uncommon.
Chapter 7: Colored Water
22) Sharon believes it is a lot harder for white people to deal with the issues of slavery and racism than it is for black people.
23) Sharon and Tom grew up in troubled times in very different circumstances and their experiences continue to inform their world view.
Chapter 8: Cycles of Violence
24) Tom and Sharon contend that violence is intrinsic to the American way of life.
25) Dr. Howard Zehr suggests that “restorative justice can help reframe the discussion of historic slavery, racism, privilege and present-day inequities.”
26) Entire communities were either terrorized by or participated in horrific acts of violence.
Chapter 9: Grave Matters
27) Genealogy is a central theme throughout Gather at the Table.
28) Tom and Sharon visited many sites related to the struggle for civil rights and experienced deep emotional reactions to what they saw.
Chapter 10: The Crossroads of Liberty and Commerce
29) Sharon and Tom encountered many symbols of America’s past that they found painful, including Confederate flags, historical markers and tributes to Ku Klux Klan leaders.
30) Sharon and Tom were impressed by the many instances they found of the intersection of “liberty and commerce.”
31) Sharon wanted to visit “the scene of the crime” by sleeping in an antebellum home and touring a plantation – Tom did not.
32) Mrs. Feltus showed Tom and Sharon many artifacts that have been in her family for generations.
33) The tour guide at Longwood presented a view of Uncle Frederick as a cherished friend and savior of the Nutt family.
Chapter 11: Truth Be Told
34) Part of the “healing journey,” as taught in the STAR program, is finding healthy ways to resolve conflict.
35) The painful history of the Tulsa Race Riot was buried for generations.
36) John Brown used violence in pursuit of his goals.
Chapter 12: The Devil’s Half Acre
37) Historians generally agree that American history is filled with paradox. One example is that the white Founding Founders spoke vehemently of freedom while brutally enslaving African people.
38) Interpretive centers have a difficult time attracting African Americans to portray slaves.
39) Tee Turner spoke of how he allowed the Confederate statue in Richmond to keep him in bondage and spoke of enslaved people being reduced to a “slave mentality.”
40) Part of Sharon’s and Tom’s healing journey was the recognition beforehand that it would be painful.
Chapter 13: Ripples on a Pond
41) Tom and Sharon contend that “inequity and mistrust along racial lines are systemic throughout American society.”
42) “History teaches that every few generations society experiences upheaval.”
43) Sharon and Tom claim that “today’s youth cannot escape the shadow of racism that has been passed down organically from parents and others who cling to a distorted image of American history.”
44) Tom and Sharon claim “the real challenge is that the system is designed to protect the powerful and it feeds on isms—racism, classism, sexism—all methods to keep people divided and conquered.”
45) Gather at the Table has a goal of offering productive ways to discuss race using an approach that leads to understanding and healing for individuals and communities.
GATHER AT THE TABLE