By bringing a taboo subject out into the open, this activity helps students think through racial stereotypes. The exercise works best if led by students themselves. In any case, it should be properly debriefed so as not to hard attitudes and resentment. Allow 15-20 minutes for the activity and discussion. Note: an abridged version of this activity is depicted in DVD Chapter 7.
>>Have representatives of one racial group stand by a blackboard and invite their classmates to call out common stereotypes of their group, which they will record on the board. (Note: this part of the exercise should be free form, not serious.) If students are hesitant to begin, members of the group can suggest or call out some of their own.
Then, have each member of the target group stand next to the blackboard in turn and ask the other students which stereotypes they think apply to that individual. Afterwards, allow the stereotyped students to share their reactions – whether any of the attributes are true for them or not, how they felt about being labeled, etc. When they’re finished, open the discussion up to other students.
If done properly, students will initially get caught up in the fun of throwing out stereotypes, but they may think differently after seeing how such labels impact their peers. Members of the target group will usually share personal stories, and it gives them an opportunity to “push back” against labels that are unfairly applied to them.
Here are examples of other group stereotyping exercises: