Stereotypes, Media, and Islamophobia

Last Updated: May 1, 2020

This Teaching Idea is designed to help students reflect on how stereotypes—specifically stereotypes about Muslims—can be reinforced through the media we consume and the negative impacts that these stereotypes can have on people’s lives. It includes student-facing Google Slides, which contain the following four activities:

  1. How can people’s assumptions impact you?
  2. How are Muslims stereotyped in the media?
  3. What impact can stereotypes and discrimination have?
  4. What are the stereotypes in the media you consume?

Additional Resource: Our lesson Stereotypes and “Single Stories” uses an excerpt from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, to teach students about what stereotypes are and how they can lead to prejudice and discrimination.

What follows are the student-facing instructions for the four activities in this Teaching Idea. The full activities can be found in the Google Slides for this Teaching Idea.

Overview

These activities can help you think about how stereotypes—specifically stereotypes about Muslims—can be reinforced through the media we consume and the negative impacts that these stereotypes can have on people’s lives.

Activity 1: How can people’s assumptions impact you?

Respond to the following questions in your journal:

  1. Think of a time that someone made an unfair assumption about you. What was the assumption? How did it make you feel?
  2. Was the assumption linked to any stereotypes about groups that you belong to? If so, how?

Activity 2: How are Muslims stereotyped in the media?

Watch the Secret Life of Muslims video Ahmed Ahmed: An American-Muslim comedian on being typecast as a terrorist.

Reflect:

  1. According to Ahmed Ahmed, how are Muslims and Arabs stereotyped in movies?
  2. How do these negative stereotypes make Ahmed Ahmed feel? What impact did these stereotypes have on his career?
  3. How do you think these stereotypes might affect the way people think about Muslims or Arabs?
  4. How does Ahmed Ahmed use comedy to counteract these stereotypes?

Activity 3: What impact can stereotypes and discrimination have?

Watch the Secret Life of Muslims video Khalid Latif: Muslim NYPD chaplain: saluted in uniform, harassed as a civilian.

Reflect:

  1. What assumptions do people make about Khalid Latif when he is in uniform? What assumptions do people make about him when he is not in uniform? What do you think explains the difference?
  2. How have people—including people in authority—treated Khalid Latif because of assumptions about Muslims?
  3. How is Khalid Latif impacted by the harassment and discrimination he experiences?

Activity 4: What are the stereotypes in the media you consume?

Pick a book you recently read or a show or movie you recently watched. Then, choose one character from the piece and create an identity chart for them. To create an identity chart, write the character’s name in the space provided below or on a piece of paper. Then, write the traits or characteristics of the character around their name, and connect each one to the character’s name with a line.

 

 

Reflect:

  1. What stereotypes are there about people like this character?
  2. In what ways, if any, does this character reinforce these stereotypes?
  3. In what ways, if any, does this character break away from these stereotypes?
  4. What impact can stereotypes have on the people who are being stereotyped? What impact can they have on society as a whole?
  5. Do writers or directors have a responsibility to avoid perpetuating stereotypes, or even to counteract them? Why or why not?

Photo of Khalid Latif courtesy of Bryan Derballa

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