Looking Beyond Stereotypes | Not in Our Town

Looking Beyond Stereotypes

Addressing & Eliminating Labels

Insert label here“Do not define me by my clothes or the color of my skin”.

These are the words that begin a powerful video titled, Labels. The video, created by Maneetpaul Singh, is a creative project featuring people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, wearing a stereotype or label written on a piece of tape, covering their mouths. The video featured labels like “know it all,” “shy,” “prep,” and “terrorist,” among others.

The opening and closing lines are from the poem that inspired Singh to embark on this project, written by Singh’s friend Bani Ahuja. The video ends with a woman, burning a piece of tape with the words “insert label here,” and the final words of the poem are narrated:


So take this label that I wear,

Let it burn into the air,

I am not the words that you assign,

There’s so much more that meets the eye.

Watch Maneetpaul Singh's video here.

National Liberty Museum helps shred Stereotypes

ShredderThis is the shredder. It lives at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia.

Not In Our School Director Becki Cohn-Vargas discovered the shredder on a recent visit to the museum and it reminded her of the popular Not In Our School Stereotype Pool activity. The shredder is where all can take any of the derogatory things others have called them (or that they have called others) and watch them shred to bits. What better way to start eliminating these words from our vocabulary?

From the museum's site:

The National Liberty Museum is dedicated to preserving America’s heritage of freedom by fostering good character, civic responsibility and respect for all people ... Our core themes for young people and adults include leadership and good character; diversity and inclusion; peaceful conflict resolution; and civic engagement.

Anyone going to Philadelphia’s National Liberty Museum should pay a visit to the shredder.


Stereotypes Against Muslim Students Persist and Education is Needed

Mass SistersThree sisters are sharing their story to encourage schools to combat prejudicial bullying, especially against Muslim immigrants.

An op-ed published at MassLive highlights the case of the sisters—Najma, Hibo and Filsan Hussein—who recently spoke at Westfield State University about their experience as Muslim immigrants at a Massachusetts high school. The three sisters were born in Kenya and are the children of Somali refugees who moved from Kenya to the U.S.

“We were called terrorists, suicide bombers, towel-heads,” the sisters told the audience, “We are not related to Saddam Hussein...We didn’t even know what one (a Saddam Hussein) was.”

The hate speech eventually turned into physical assault when students attempted to grab the headscarves the sisters wore as a part of their faith from their heads. The situation escalated into a confrontation between the sisters and their bullies which resulted in the sisters’ arrest.

The editorial’s author makes an important suggestion for schools to prevent this kind of thing from happening again: “When new students arrive from unfamiliar countries, school administrators and teachers need to take note of their stories and to have those stories told – as soon as possible.”

Read the article by MassLive here.


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