The Group

15 members of our dorm


Lots of articulate statements. Some disagreement. Especially when we moved away from the poem, some soul-searching and real tangible dealing with the personal effects of the subject (privilege and inequality). People got comfortable with the model after about 5-7 minutes and brought their own personal experiences to the discussion.


The biggest challenge was originally getting people to come, though we were pleased with the turn-out. However, myself and my co-facilitator knew everyone so next time we want more new faces. Some people didn't feel comfortable sharing their beliefs because they thought they would be attacked for them so we should try to make a more comfortable and open setting next time. Another challenge was people showing up during the discussion. Next time, I would post a sign asking the late-comers to come in and quietly take a seat.

Opening Activity

For the opening activity, we split people into pairs and had them share something they want that they choose to deny themselves. What is it that they want and why do they hold back from having it?

Discussion Questions

I think we asked good questions about whether shame is the correct response to privilege and what the point of self-denial is. Some of our questions included:

  • Looking at line 7 of the first stanza, what do you think she means, "Gold more lovely than gold of bread not in broom, plant or fruit?"
  • Why are their fingers hard and their palms soft?
  • Why is the son supposed to lower his hand?
  • Why does the mother not want her son to touch the bread?
  • Why would the boy's hands be "ashamed?"
  • How would the poem change if the mother asked the boy to share the bread?
  • Should people with privilege feel shame about having more than others?
  • Does it help those who have less if we deny ourselves some of our privileges? How?

Closing Activity

At the close, we asked, "If other people don't have it, should you?" We got some great responses from people who brought up questions of their own that they thought needed to be answered first.

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