This workshop is a three-day process that enables participants to explore their racial identity and experience of race within the historical and cultural context in which they live and work. The workshop breaks through the race-based barriers between people and groups by helping us to connect to our own stories of race. It also enables us to develop what we have chosen to call “Race Intelligence” or “Race Quotient” (RQ), a capacity to engage effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and experience. While RQ is an intelligence that appears to be particular to some individuals, like EQ, it can be developed.

A person who has RQ has:

• An awareness of the impact their own race has on their experiences, the development of their identity and their own conscious and unconscious behaviour.

• An understanding of the historical and contextual setting in which they live.

• A familiarity with the language and concepts needed to talk about race.

• Some insight into the lived experience and the impact of this on people of other races.

• Important skills for sensitively navigating a diverse interpersonal landscape.

• An appreciation that difference and “the other” brings a richness to community.

• The desire to facilitate better relationships and a culture where each individual feels welcome.

"Takes you deep into your own race story"

“I have been a facilitator and I have been facilitated by others but NEVER have I ever had an experience like this in the world! Alkimia’s Race & Identity workshop takes you deep into your own race story quickly, activities are seamless and they are very practical”

– Thandiwe

"A laboratory to gain insights into our complex heritage"

Alkimia’s workshop creates a space that has exciting potential to ensure good working relationships, enhanced productivity and creativity alongside individual and collective learning and growth in a diverse environment. This well-held laboratory allows people to gain insights into their complex heritage while giving us tools to work within our spheres of influence. It has inspired me to listen to young people and support them to take roles of constructive leadership as they thoughtfully challenge the status quo.

– Simanga Sithebe

"I want to be a part of the change in our country"

We explored the context behind our country’s history in a way that I have never thought of before. Everything became clearer – especially all the concepts around race. I feel like my awareness has been heightened and I will never look at this in the same way. I want to be a part of the change that needs to happen in our country, South Africa, and I feel deeply compelled to build awareness and to start conversations in my community about race and identity.

– Yolande

"Full of surprises!"

“A brilliant, cleverly designed process full of surprises! I am going to find myself a class to learn IsiZulu”

– Warren

"You wanted to engage fully for all three days. There was no graveyard shift!”

– Andile

A fresh look at race in South Africa

Experiencing Alkimia’s workshop

Alkimia Consulting’s new workshop, Race & Identity, does something very difficult, with apparent ease. It enables people to find a fresh, personal, and systemic take on race – a subject that has become so encrusted in meaning, troubling intersections, and destructive strategies that it’s difficult to approach with anything other than foreboding.

And yet, this workshop is moving, funny and engaging. Walking through the process felt like waking up to new possibilities for South Africa, and our experiences and performances of race. Of course, it’s not without difficult moments and tensions – how could it be? – but ultimately, Patsy Church and Tulimelila Shityuwete (Alkimia) created a kind, open and supportive space to work with challenging issues, and connect with each other in a unique and highly productive way.

Race and Identity offers participants an opportunity to witness and begin to reframe their own stories of race, and to get in touch with other people’s divergent (or convergent) personal histories. This process of re-storying is essential, and Alkimia’s process provides a way of approaching it that also affirms everyone’s basic humanity and right-to-be.

On a corporate/organisational note: the workshop has amazing potential as a real team building process – with an emphasis on the ‘real’.

The process involves: 

• connecting with each other
• getting in touch with our personal stories of race
• connecting to the larger history of South Africa, from pre-colonial times to the present
• working with feelings, perceptions and beliefs about self and other learning how to talk about and through race to create possibilities instead of closing doors.

For me, this experience reignited my belief that is it possible to find each other as human beings – without pretending that the past didn’t happen, or that the present isn’t real. I left the process feeling connected to other South Africans of different races in a new way, with some new language, and a fresh perspective. Perhaps even a white, middle-aged, South African man can contribute to the telling of a new story and the birth of a better narrative; one that doesn’t keep us all stuck, disconnected, and living in the toxic ‘problem of race’.


Warren Banks, Durban
Facilitator, OD consultant and writer

Participated in the pilot Race & Identity workshop.
Hosted by Alkimia and Footsteps (13-15 January 2020)

Who is this workshop for?


This workshop is for you if your organisation, university, school or business is experiencing tension or discomfort caused by racial or ethnic disparities. These tensions impact productivity, relationships and each individual’s capacity to work, learn or lead. This workshop serves to allow teams and individuals to explore their own story of race and identity in a safe and warmly held environment and together, look for ways forward.

For an organisation or business:
Conduct this workshop for

1. Staff members
2. A mixed group of staff and management
3. All managers should have an experience of this workshop as Race Intelligence (RQ) should be a high priority awareness and skill for anyone leading or managing others.

For a university, college or school:
Conduct this workshop for

1. students
2. students and staff
3. staff and management

An economy of scale:

For institutions of 200 members or more, Alkimia will introduce a system of introductory workshops, training and support, in order to give institution members the facilitation skills to roll out the workshop broadly at a lower cost. Consultants will assist in making linkages to other initiatives already taking place in order to ensure that a variety of transformation approaches are cohesive and impactful.