Just Because I Am…
- Reflect on “visible” and “invisible” parts of identity, and the importance of getting to know people instead of making assumptions about them
- Share about stereotypes they have encountered or observed
In order to reduce prejudice, researchers have identified the importance of challenging stereotypes and emphasizing an individual’s unique characteristics, rather than seeing them as members of a group with innate qualities. During this activity, educators should encourage students to practice self-awareness and perspective taking to reflect on assumptions they have encountered about their own identity, and their assumptions about others’ identity, and inclusivity to be open and curious in getting to know others.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
Read a collection of poetry written by youth and compiled by the International Rescue Committee, “Just Because…”.
- Lead a classroom discussion about identity. You might say: “Our identity is what makes us “us”, and it’s made up of many different parts. People might see the visible parts of our identity, like our appearance, behavior, and age. However, other parts of our identity might be invisible to them, like our beliefs, interests, and past experiences. Sometimes, people might even make assumptions about our identity based on what they see or think they know about us.”
- Encourage students to share about instances when people have made assumptions about their identity by asking them to complete the following prompt: “Just because I am…doesn’t mean…”.
• Just because I am quiet, doesn’t mean that I have nothing to say.
• Just because I am an immigrant, doesn’t mean that I don’t speak the same language as you.
• Just because I wear a hijab, doesn’t mean that I am not a feminist.
- If students are comfortable, invite them to share their responses with each other, as well as any related experiences, observations, or emotions. Guide them to notice how assumptions about others’ identity are often untrue, and can be harmful and distressing to the person experiencing them.
You might say: “Sometimes, people might assume that everyone in a particular identity group shares the same traits. This is called a “stereotype”. In reality, there are many individual differences among members of a group. It is important to actually get to know people as individuals who have their own dreams, values, experiences, and personality. We all deserve to be known, valued, and accepted for who we are.”
- End the activity by asking the following questions:
• When we make assumptions about someone’s identity, how might this affect our behavior towards them?
• How do you feel when you think about people making assumptions about you based on your appearance? How does this impact the way that you see and express yourself?
• Imagine meeting someone new - what are some ways that you could get to know them?
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.