Discussion Questions for Chapter 1 of No Innocent Bystanders

Craigo-Snell, Shannon and Christopher Doucot. No Innocent Bystanders: Becoming an Ally in the Struggle for Justice. Louisville, Presbyterian Publishing: 2017.

January 25, 2017—Chapter 1: Understanding the Struggles for LGBTQ Equality and Racial Justice

1. Craigo-Snell and Doucot cite Theologian Willie James Jennings in arguing:

that the severing of identity from geography—separating who people are from the land they inhabit—was vital to the social construction of race. Only when large groups of people moved from one place to another—across countries and continents—did it became possible and useful to identify them not primarily on the basis of geographical ties but on the basis of skin color. (30)

Their point is about the history of race as a social construction, but we can also ask this question about the way in which the social construction of race works in our own lives. What roles do either geography (town, school district, etc) or skin color play in your identification of others?

2. Pages 30-37 outline a history we have heard about in other texts we have read. What surprised you in this account? What are you seeing differently than you did a year or so ago?

3 In speaking about segregation, Doucot and Craigo-Snell say that crossing “the boundaries that divide us and seek[ing] out mutual relationships with African Americans . . . does not mean that the ultimate goal of allyship is having more black friends. Because racism is structural and systematic, it cannot be undone without significant changes in policy, law, and concrete practices” (44). How is this statement in tension with church practice as you experience it?

4. How do you see the obstacles of welcome, relationship, classism and guilt at work in your own experience? Do they work differently for LGBTQ issues than they do for racial issues?