Stereo What?

Through this activity participants will become aware of their own feelings about others, and the racial, cultural and socio-economic biases in society today. Participants will analyze their own feelings in light of this awareness.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
If [people] can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. ”
~Nelson Mandela
Print50 minutes
The youth will:
  • examine personal biases and stereotyping, and how they originate.
  • become aware that prejudice can be very hurtful even though unintentional.
  • understand how to change biased thinking and build harmonious relationships.
  • understand that learning open and honest communication is a step in human growth and development, which can lead to a better society.
  • understand the relationship between participating in effective philanthropic acts for the common good and creating harmony.
  • Several pictures depicting people of diverse cultures and generations. Include pictures of people in traditional costume along with people in “everyday” clothing. 
  • Personal Opinion Survey
  • Chart paper or projection screen
Home Connection: 

Participants write and reflect during the week about what all people have in common and how we are all unique, as well. Think of creative ways that uniqueness is a gift and what the special benefits can be. See how many benefits to our school, community and world the youth can identify. Ask participants to reflect upon ways that their individual uniqueness can actually add value to the philanthropic acts they choose to do.

  1. Upon entering the activity room the participants will see pictures of people of diverse cultures, including pictures of people they may encounter in their daily lives. Ask the youth to identify the pictures of people who they think may be different from them, and to explain why.

  2. Make sure to create a safe environment for an open and honest discussion where personal feelings can be shared. Having the group identify a set of their own “group norms” prior to the activity can create a safer environment. Their norms may be things such as: active listening, not judging others, establishing trust, making sure everyone participates on some level, pledging confidentiality, and promoting care and understanding. Congratulate them often on their willingness to be open and supportive of all their peers on this sensitive topic. The participants should be recognized for their willingness to be open-minded.

  3. Discuss with the participants if they have any ideas as to what the particular people they see depicted in the pictures might be like.

  4. Next, utilize the Stereo What? Personal Opinion Survey (Attachment One—view by scrolling down) and ask the group to silently check off the responses that are the closest to their honest feelings. Point out that they may keep their papers confidential. Write the word "stereotype" on the chart paper or overhead projector transparency and ask participants to give their ideas of what the term means. Record their responses.

  5. Conduct a group discussion of their opinion surveys. Encourage an open and honest discussion and invite the participants to share their own answers to the survey. Ask the participants to think about why their surveys are the same or different from others (i.e., environment, family background, community, adherence to laws and mores).

  6. They may not be able to have all of the answers at today’s session, but a list of questions for the next session can be started. A “parking lot” can be established, which is a place to write down thoughts to address next time. 

  7. Between sessions the participants can gather more information by interviewing people from various cultures or by making a new friend that they think may be different from them. They can also gather information through the Internet or watch a movie that deals with the topic of today’s session and bring back a review.

  8. Variation: 
    Instead of sharing the results of the survey with the entire group, participants could be divided into smaller groups of 3-5 participants. Emphasize that this is not to be a discussion, but a sharing of information. Every participant’s opinion is important. Give the groups about 10 minutes to share their responses and the reasoning behind them.
  1. In what ways were the results of your survey the same or different from others?
  2. What have been some of the experiences that have shaped your thinking?
  3. How do you personally express how you perceive your own uniqueness? 
  4. In what ways are differences good and how do communities, youth groups, schools and the world benefit from diversity?
  5. How would you go about helping someone with prejudice to change in a sensitive and caring way?
  6. In what other areas do we sometimes find ourselves to be stereotyping or pre-judging others and/or situations? Have you caught yourself or others practicing bias and how have you taken action to turn it around to a positive? Describe the particulars, if you are comfortable, so others may learn from your experience.
  7. What are some things that can be done to influence younger children and/or your peers to be open to diversity?
  8. What real incidences in schools and communities might have turned out differently had there been tolerance, understanding and equal treatment of all people? What action/s can you, as a group or as individuals, do to contribute to the betterment of humanity?
  9. How many ways can you think of that stereotyping is related to doing good philanthropic work?