I posted recently about the power of story to unlock discussion with young people, and about the two collections of story-based discussion starters which I’ve written. The resource below is extracted from the second of those: The Think Tank. It looks at the issue of racism.
The resource is simple to use – just read the story, then ask the first bank of questions. With some young people that may be enough – with others you may want to select further questions from the second and third set of questions. The third set ties the story and theme into a Bible passage, and looks to God for some ultimate wisdom and truth. Alternatively, you may just want to give the story and questions to the young people to work though in groups, or on their own at home.
‘The Think Tank’ contains this and 99 other discussion resources like it. You can buy it from Amazon or Eden, or from your friendly local Christian bookshop
Black and white issue
An advertisement appears on the website of global software giants Microsoft. The main image depicts not only a fast paced business environment, but an idealistic and modern one in which men and women, black and white, work together as equals. Unless of course, you’re viewing the Polish version.
Because, in a gaffe for which they soon apologised, Microsoft doctored the image on that version of the advert in order to remove the black face at the centre of the group, and replace it with the head of a white man. Compounding the mistake, they forgot to change the rest of the image, resulting in a composite central figure with a white face and black hands. The decision to do this – which Microsoft said it was investigating internally – created a PR disaster for the company, founded by billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Bill Gates.
The image was quickly circulated online by angry bloggers, who poked fun at the seemingly amateurish attempt to change the image, and expressed anger at a perceived act of racism. Like much of Eastern Europe, Poland has a different ethnic mix to the US and UK, and some bloggers have speculated that the image was changed in order to ‘reflect the demographics’. Microsoft has since pulled the image from its websites.
The Questions: Opening up
- Why do you think someone took the decision to doctor the photograph?
- The person responsible might argue that because there are fewer black people in Poland, they were simply adjusting the photo to better represent that country. What do you think of that argument?
- Is it ever right to discriminate on the basis of race of belief? Why or why not?
- Have you or anyone you know ever been subjected to racist comments or worse? How did it feel for you/them?
- Why do you think people demonstrate racist beliefs?
- How do you think our society can continue to combat the rise of racism, and extremist groups who seek to discriminate on the basis of race?
Read Acts 17:26 and Romans 10:12
- How might the first verse be used to speak into this story?
- What does the second verse clearly teach about our attitude to people of other races?
- When do you find racial issues difficult? Pray together that God will use you in a force for good in a society that continues to wrestle with these issues.
It’s awesome that you’re opening up the discussion of racism and racial discrimination for students as it is a much needed conversation in the Church (and the rest of the world). As I was reading the example though, I couldn’t help but think that it is perfectly logical from a business/marketing perspective for the company to adjust their marketing strategies in areas or countries where their target populations are different. If you’re putting out a product in a mostly white country, it makes sense to have mostly white people in your advertisements because people gravitate towards things that are similar to them. They think that people are physically more attractive if they look like them. And that is the idea that should be teased out before you ask direct questions about discrimination and racism. Why are people more comfortable with people who look like them?