Race and Ethnic Identity Discussion Handout

By  GALA Expert 

 August 8, 2023 

A list of scenarios to help your chorus consider how it works towards anti-racism


For each of the scenarios below:

  • Identify the issue/s surrounding equity, access and belonging present in this scenario. 
  • Reflect on how this situation may, or may not, be present in your own chorus. 
  • Brainstorm a range of possible responses to the scenario. In your chorus, whose responsibility is it to speak up and challenge, or support, the issue presented?
  • Record your conversations and responses for reporting back to the larger group.

Scenarios for Discussion

  1. You are on tour to rural Nebraska. At the first dinner stop the wait staff at your table only make eye contact with you, ignoring the Pakistani chorus member sitting beside you. 
  2. Your board of directors is exploring ways to be more diverse as a leadership group. One board member responds, “I don’t see color.”
  3. Your Membership Committee receives an email from a singer who requests to not sit by “Beverly” because her fragrance triggers allergies. Beverly is an older black woman.
  4. Amar, an Indian man, joins a men’s chorus. The director points out another man from India across the room and asks, “Do you and Jayant know each other?”  Amar looks affronted and says, “There are over a billion people in India.” However, it turns out that Amar and Jayant are not only from the same town but went to the same high school. The director turns the whole incident into one big joke.
  5. The director of a men’s chorus is a 60-something white gay man originally from a small town in Texas. He directs a gay men’s chorus that is predominantly white. At one point he jokes to the chorus, “I just don’t know how to talk any more. When I was growing up, ‘colored people’ was a polite term. Now it’s ‘people of color.’ I just get so confused!”

Action Steps
What are some concrete steps your chorus could undertake to better address race and ethnic identity?