Responding Positively to Negative Stereotypes – MYLP Workshop Activity

I’ve conducted youth workshops over the course of a few months and parents always seem to ask about topics and discussions. Inquisitive parents sometimes listen to what’s being presented and have their own questions. CAIR-Philadelphia’s model is that youth workshops must educate, empower, and inspire. We’ve prepared the best hands-on, interactive activities for MYLP students. Participants receive practical information that they can use daily, and most importantly, they get their voices heard. We teach young American Muslims that what they contribute is equally as valuable as any other religious group.

One activity that seems to be popular with the youth and, I must admit, a personal favorite of mine is Name the Stereotype. This is how it works: Everyone brainstorms common stereotypes of Muslims and Islam that they’ve heard in school, TV, radio etc. Participants break up into smaller groups to generate positive responses. When all the groups are finished, they critique each other and I pick a winner. Of course I am the judge. This fun activity (and believe me, it is really fun and competitive, as the groups are usually divided girls against boys) test students to see how they use the information that is given during the workshop. The goal is to teach students how to react positively when asked a question on Islam or Muslims, even if it is based on a stereotype or if they find the question to be ridiculous.

Here are common stereotypes participants came up with:

  • All Muslims are violent/terrorists
  • Muslim women are oppressed
  • Muslims want to take over the world
  • Muslims are not tolerant of other people
  • All Muslims are Arab/All Arab are Muslims

Rugiatu Conteh is the Outreach and Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Philadelphia Chapter.