For the purposes of this activity the following definitions will apply: Culture is an umbrella terms that encompasses the knowledge, beliefs, values, morals, customs and other habits acquired by members of a specific society such as Americans or Japanese. Co-Culture is a group whose beliefs or behaviors distinguish it from the larger culture of which it is part of and with which it shares numerous similarities. If a Japanese-American lives in the U.S., such an individual is a member of the American national culture and the Japanese- American co-culture. As a Puerto Rican-American, I am a member of the national American culture and my own co-culture. (Kearney and Plax, 2001) To begin the activity:
1. Introduce the concept of Cultures/Co-Cultures
; Aspects of ourselves that we hold in common with other people.
; We are all members of many co-cultures at any given time.
; Co-cultures are a group that we feel a part of based upon certain characteristics (i.e. college student,
single parent, female, hip hop music lover, video gamer, female marine, Black male, etc.)
2. Introduce the concept of Stereotypes
; Stereotypes are not racism; they are something we all have.
; Stereotypes are an oversimplified opinion or belief we have of a specific culture ; We often use stereotypes to make unconsciously make quick decisions about people. ; Stereotypes often come from our films/lenses – what we see on TV or hear from others. They can also
come from personal experiences with one person from a specific cultural group. But making decisions
based upon stereotypes can lead to problems.
o Choosing a checkout line we may make a decision about which line is faster based on the people
in line, the age of the cashier, or what people have in their carts.
o When playing softball we may stereotype the smaller players as weak hitters and move closer to
the infield when they are up at bat.
o Ask: What could be the negative impact of these stereotypes? [the smaller player is a strong
hitter and hits the ball into the outfield; you choose the grocery line that has younger cashier but
it takes more time].
; Seminar Leader shares example of their sex and ethnicity co-culture and the characteristics/stereotypes
of that co-culture. Be sure to explain that this is a co-culture. [please note: the reason you are using
yourself as an example is to encourage the exploration of stereotypes of race and gender so that the
students are able to go deeper with this activity.]
o What can people perceive about me – either right or wrong based upon the
characteristics/stereotypes of my co-culture of being a white female?
; If students don’t say characteristics of your co-culture, start listing some yourself to get them started. ; Be sure to tell them it is okay with you to say any characteristics or perceived stereotypes.
Example: Co-Culture – White Female
; Characteristics/Stereotypes: have flat butts, they are weak, they cry, passive and helpless, don’t
express anger, stuck up, loud mouth, sarcastic, no common sense, no street smarts, they all talk
like valley girls, don't speak their mind in relationships and are obedient/passive, gold diggers
; Share your true characteristics: I don’t have a flat butt, I do cry but am a strong woman who
definitely expresses my mind in relationships, and I am loud.
; Impact of stereotypes: you wouldn’t want to date me if you only liked women who were quiet
3. Group Brainstorming of Cultural Stereotypes
; To make this activity safe, start a brainstorm about the cultural stereotypes of college students, males,
o Are these things true for you?
o As a _____________ (college student, male, or female) what do you want people to know about
o As a _____________ (college student, male, or female) what do you want people to never say
4. Individual Activity
; Have students list three of their own cultures on page 13.
; Tell the students to be sure to choose one of their cultures that they will be comfortable talking about
; Students write the characteristics/stereotypes of the one culture they are willing to talk about with others.
5. Group Activity
; Divide class into groups (3 students per group).
; Students share what they wrote about one of their cultures.
; In their small groups, students answer questions for discussion (listed on page 13.)
6. Class discussion
; Ask: What did you discover?
; How did it feel to have an open and honest conversation about culture? How did you go about talking to
others about this sensitive topic?
; What made it easier? What made it difficult?
; How does an open and respectful conversation about the topic help in understanding where the other
person is coming from (even if you don’t agree)?
; How does it dispel any stereotypes?
7. Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination
; Stereotypes are not discrimination but can lead to prejudice, discrimination, and racism if used
; We can avoid prejudging people or situations by learning about them.
; It is important that we always “check ourselves” to be sure our stereotypes don’t become prejudice,
discrimination, and racism. Be aware of what you are thinking.
8. How to Improve Your Relationships with Diverse Others
Discuss these with the class and how they can do each of these:
; Assess Your Attitudes. Honestly evaluate your attitudes/thoughts/stereotypes of people who don’t
share your characteristics or background.
; Take the Perspective of Others. Ask yourself what about the person’s background makes them
different and similar from you, what kinds of obstacles are they facing, what this person is feeling.
; Seek Out Personal Contact. Get to know people who have backgrounds and characteristics that are
different from your own.
; Respect Differences but Don’t Overlook Similarities. Think about the ways you may be similar – are
you both shy, have the same major, don’t like math, like the same movies, etc. Find your common
; Broaden Your Knowledge. The more you know about people who are different from you the better
you can interact with them. You can learn more at BC through HD classes, campus events, speakers,
; Treat People as Individuals. Keep in mind the person is an individual vs. focusing on the group. Talk
with them about their concerns, interests, hopes, and daily lives. Get to know people who are different
9. Read Affirmation of Inclusion