A walk to challenge stereotypes and prejudices
an additional workshop for Beyond Verbal
by Anna Strand
When all participants in the project met for the first time in Stockholm, discussions and conversations arose based on the lectures and workshops we participated in. The discussions were about children, childhood and norms. We talked about similarities, different backgrounds in our different countries and cultures. Situations arose where some participants felt singled out because of their appearance and origin or that they could not share their personal views on parenting without being judged.
When the first mobility was over, the project group in Stockholm, Rinkeby, met and we felt that it may not only be the children who need to work with norms and values, we also need to challenge our own prejudices. What is the basis of the image we often create when we meet a new person? How open are we in the meeting with a new person? We often want to box in a new person based on gender, origin, etc.
As a starting point for a work where we want to challenge our stereotypical thoughts, we have used a privileged walk.
In workshops with the project group and the entire staff group, we have created a privilege walk to deal with situations and meetings we have experienced based on gender, gender expression and ethnicity. We all wrote and created the walk together.
The characters in the walk are based on everybody who worked at Torget in Rinkeby or people in our vicinity. The situations that are read out during the walk are self-experienced or ones we have heard told by friends, siblings or parents. We worked on the walk for about a year and wrote different variants and started from different starting points. For example, we wrote about occasions when we have been treated differently based on our gender or whether we in our professional role treated children differently depending on whether they were a girl or a boy.
When we walk, we do not walk like ourselves but like the characters. Based on a short description of the character, the idea is that you yourself should fill in some information. What is the characters gender, age, occupation and what is its biggest secret?
When walking as a randomly chosen character, you need to imagine yourself in someone else's situation at the same time as you need to think about how that person would react to prejudices you have been exposed to or exposed to someone else.
Take a step forward if you have ever been misgendered.
Take a step forward if you avoid men's glances at the subway.
The discussions about the result on the walk, why we end up as we do in the room depending on who our character is, made us start talking about prejudice and also about norms. Some said that they fantasized about the character, what its background was. Some found it difficult to develop the character. We came to the conclusion that how we developed the character was often based on prejudice and gender stereotypical norms. The conversations made us start sharing experiences and we started listening to each other. By listening to each other, we gained a greater understanding of each other and our different starting points. When you need to formulate thoughts or feelings, they also become clearer to you and there is the opportunity to be able to rethink.
The preschool Torget is a workplace where the staff comes from different parts of the world and must be able to work together to take care of children in the best way possible, even though we sometimes think differently. We need to be able to communicate effectively.
When we were to meet next time with the BV project in Istanbul, we took the walk with us to use it as a tool to work against such tricky situations that arose the first time we met in Stockholm. We did the walk together and also had some time to discuss. Those who wanted to write characters and situations that we could add to the walk.
The walk now consists of characters and situations created by people who work with children and art in Stockholm, Istanbul and Århus.