“Picture a vicar. Is it a man?”
“Is he white?”
“Is he elderly?”
At the Teen VGN Summer Camp, a vegan meet-up for teens from across Europe, Team Wales Campaign Co-ordinator, Jason, is preaching to the converted. The group of young people are socially conscious, aware of current events and the need to critically consider everything they read. They are appalled by the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as the flagrant examples of Islamaphobia that they have experienced in their own communities and are striving for an inclusive society where people are judged as individuals and not by the colour of their skin, their religion, their nationality or their culture. And yet…
The vicar visualisation suggests that stereotyping is ingrained in our society. The workshop participants were loath to put people into boxes, yet their vision of a vicar was fairly uniform; this was where Show Racism the Red Card Wales could help. By discussing these pre-existing ideas, using illustrative examples and effective questioning to encourage participants to self-reflect, and stressing that we must take pride in the fact that we are all on a continuous learning curve, Jason encouraged the group to take the initial steps towards breaking down unconscious bias in society. Finishing with a rallying cry to go forward and be leaders in their own communities, there was a buzz in the air as individuals realised their own power.
“Any final questions or comments?”
“That was great.”