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Interpersonal vs. Structural Discrimination


This lesson asks participants to construct a definition of Islamophobia using a variety of evidence, including poetry, media images, news clips, and research data. The lesson also challenges a common pattern in representations of bigotry and discrimination that frames hate speech and hate attacks as nothing more than rogue individuals who lose their tempers after reading fake news. While hearing stories of interpersonal violence can increase compassion and empathy, we want to challenge the typical media coverage of racism, which, according to Race Forward:

. . . reinforces the common misconception that racism is simply a personal problem that should be resolved by shaming, punishing, or re-educating the individual offender. [It] often leads to long, inconclusive debates about what is in a person’s ‘heart,’ and whether or not they intended to be hurtful or discriminatory. [It] perpetuates false notions of individual agency in our national consciousness. (p. 20)

After constructing a definition of Islamophobia, participants learn the difference between interpersonal and structural discrimination, classify Islamophobia examples, and brainstorm solutions.

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