Path to Equality Land

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  • Number of participants = 4+
  • Theme = Discrimination, racism, hate speech
  • Duration = 2 hours
  • Difficult for participants = Level 4
  • Difficulty for facilitator = Level 3

Summary

This activity involves small group work, imagination, and drawing to explore issues of discrimination and racism.

Related Rights
• Freedom from discrimination
• Freedom of opinion and information
• The right to equality before the law

Goals/Learning Objectives

  • To envisage a future world where equality is the norm
  • To develop communication, imagination, creativity and skills to co-operate
  • To promote justice and respect

Materials

  • Two A3 size or flip chart paper per small group
  • Marker pens of different colours, enough for all small groups
  • A map, preferably a hiking map or any other sort of map that shows physical features, for instance, mountains, valleys, rivers, forests, villages, bridges, etc.

Preparation

Familiarise yourself with the map and the symbols used.

Flow of the Exercise

Part 1: Defining the problems and brainstorming solutions. 15 minutes.
  1. Ask people to get into small groups of three to five people. Hand out one sheet of paper and pens to each group. Tell them to draw three columns of equal width down the paper.
  2. Remind people that Equality Land has complete equality in an inclusive society: no racism, no discrimination, and no hate. Ask participants to brainstorm concrete examples of what this country would be like. One person in the group lists these examples in the first column.
  3. Now, ask the groups to think about how life is today, reflecting on each point in column one and discussing what steps need to be taken to get from the present to their future Equality Land. In the second column, write each step down beside each point in the first column.
  4. Next, ask people to reflect on the obstacles they might encounter on the path to Equality Land and how they would overcome them. Write these down in the third column.
Part 2: Drawing the map. 40 minutes.
  1. Briefly review what a map looks like. Point out the ways that contours are drawn, the shading for mountains and rivers and the symbols that are used for forests, moorland, buildings, power cables, and so on.
  2. Introduce the idea of other symbols. Ask participants if they know of any folk tales or other stories that use the metaphor of a person going on a journey to present moral ideals. Talk about the way a dark forest, for instance, may be used as a metaphor for evil or a red, rosy apple used to represent temptation. The traveller may show moral strength swimming across a fast flowing river or humility helping a distressed animal.
  3. Hand out a second large sheet of paper to each group. Ask each group to make their own fantasy map to represent the landscapes of the present and the future, with a path or paths running between them. They should make up their own symbols for the geographical features and for the other obstacles that will hinder or help the traveller as he/she journeys along the path from the present to Equality Land.
  4. Bring everyone back into plenary and ask participants to share their maps.

Debriefing

Start with a discussion about the way the different groups worked together and how they made decisions about what to represent and how they drew the map. Then go on to talk about what Equality Land might look like in reality, and the obstacles to reach it.

  • Did people enjoy the activity? Why?
  • Which was the easiest and hardest column to fill in? Why?
  • What were the main features of Equality Land?
  • What needs to change in order to build a society where there is total equality and no racism, discrimination or hate?
  • In relation to the right not to be discriminated, can policies of positive discrimination be justified as short-term measures to boost equality?
  • If you had to rate your country among all the countries of the world for equality of opportunity, how would you rate it on a scale of one to ten. One is very unequal; ten is full equality.
  • Why is it so important to focus on human rights, particularly the effects of racism?
  • Apart from Black People and People of Colour, which other groups are discriminated against in your society? How is this manifested? Which human rights are being violated?
  • How can disadvantaged groups be empowered to claim their rights?
  • What role has education to play in empowerment?
  • What role has human rights education to play in empowerment?

Empowerment

The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people, and in communities, in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to the professional support of people to be empowered. Empowerment enables people to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognise and use the resources at their disposal.

In social work, empowerment forms a practical approach of resource-oriented intervention. In the field of citizenship education and democratic education, empowerment is seen as a tool to increase the responsibility of the citizen. Empowerment is a key concept in the discourse on promoting civic engagement. In our context, empowerment refers to enabling minorities and BPoCs to challenge power structures e.g. in a workshop designed to empower people by sharing their experiences without facing harassment and suggestions of inadequacy from outsiders.

Variations

The groups could make models of the landscape using ‘junk’. In this case, you will need to have a good collection of small boxes, tubs, tubes, paper, stones, nuts, bits of string and wool, paper clips, etc. and also glue and card for the bases for the models.

The method of drawing a map from the present to the future can be adapted to most issues where you want participants to think freely and imaginatively about finding solutions to problems.

The discussed issues and the thoughts of solutions of this method make a good drama activity for Forum Theatre. Ask two, three or four people to develop a short role-play of an incident. The rest of the group observe. You can stop the role-play at intervals and ask the audience to comment or to make suggestions about how the role-play should continue. Alternatively, members of the audience can intervene directly to take over from the actors and develop alternative outcomes.

Possible Follow up Activities

Having spent time thinking about equality now and in the future, the group may like to use the method Timelines to look back at famous Black People and People of Colour; encourage them to explore how the concept and practice of equality has changed through history. Search on the internet for ‘timeline famous Black People and People of Colour’.

Alternatively, you may like to explore other issues of discrimination and to make the group aware of different positions of power in society, and of mechanisms of oppression through the method Check Your Privileges!

There should be the possibility to empower Black People and People of Colour who are facing racism. Find strategies to cope and share those in a safe space by using the method Empower Yourself where individual experiences are shared among themselves about racism, identity, etc.

Look at your own school, organisation, club or workplace policies about equal opportunities, particularly in relation to racism, and discuss how the policies are implemented and whether or not any changes or extra effort needs to be made to bring your institution to the status of Equality Land.

Recommendations

Encourage groups to think of concrete examples of how life in Equality Land could be. Try to get the groups to come up with their own examples. If this is too difficult, you can suggest that they should think about the number of BPoC in parliament, the number of BPoC at the top of business, differences in income, how they spend their leisure time, sharing domestic chores, the numbers of part-time workers, domestic violence, harassment at school and at work or how BPoC and ‘white’ people are portrayed in the media.

Do not over emphasise the need for symbols because metaphorical ideas are not easy for some people. If participants are stuck thinking about how to picture their ideas, you could start them off by suggesting a Black Person and Person of Colour who wants to be a lawyer uses a bridge of education to go over a river of prejudice against Black People and People of Colour. Of course, you will have to think of examples of racism/discrimination stereotyping that reflect the reality in your society.

Adapted from Council of Europe (2017). Compass: Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People. Path to equality land. Strasbourg.

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