The X Degrees of Segregation Exercise provides a way to consider how far we’ve come. It helps us explore our history, progress, and quality of life. It’s for individuals, families, and us as Americans. Participate to explore who in your family made it or who acted as allies helping others outside of your family make it. It provides a way to not only explore your past but also America’s past! Discover how it impacts us today.

To participate, answer three questions. They’ve been designed to consider the influence of national policies and local practices on you and your family. While the Exercise consists of only three questions, Ones and allies alike may find them challenging. We don’t all know our family histories. And, some may consider relevant information taboo. So, it may be helpful to complete this Exercise when gathered with more than one generations of your family. Those who have results of genealogy research may find it useful to keep them handy.


Respond to the following questions.

  1. What was life like for your ancestors when slavery ended in 1865? Consider whether your family’s circumstances changed at that time and, if so, how.
  2. Next, consider the American ideal. We graduate from college. Earn a steady income. Marry. Purchase a home. Raise a family. Afford our children’s education. And eventually, we enjoy a satisfying retirement. We expect this American dream to come true for anyone who works hard. Moreover, living this ideal means having a stable quality of life. Does this list reflect the quality of life you have, have had, or expect to have? If no, revise the list before moving ahead to Question #3.
  3. Finally, consider each generation of your family since emancipation. Which generation had the quality of life reflected in Question #2 including any changes made to the list provided? Which generation helped others outside of your family have that quality of life? Your response should take into consideration whether successive generations experienced the same or a better quality of life. Also, think about the following.
    • Did any policies, like Affirmative Action or the GI Bill, help any generations of your family?
    • Did any practices, like Redlining or Separate but Equal, hinder any generations of your family?

Need inspiration to get started? Read what can happen when descendants of slaves and slave owners meet.

I’ve answered the questions. Now what?

Thank you for doing the X Degrees of Segregation Exercise!

How did it go? Were you able to answer all the questions? Did answering them involve more than one generation of your family? Did you learn anything new about your family’s or our nation’s past?


Note. This text is the second of a 2-part post. Part 2 explores how this Exercise helps me understand why I meditate.