At a workshop on good relations that I was helping to facilitate, we talked about Northern Ireland’s anti-discrimination laws. The introduction to this was an activity called “Not Up My Street.” The premise is that there are going to be new people moving into your neighborhood and you get to chose which of the families/people get to move in. You are given very little information, for example a Hospital Doctor, a Member of the Orange Order, a Sinn Fein Counselor, a Gay Nurse, an Unemployed Youth, a Community Worker, etc. You personally, and then in small groups, have to rank the people in order of who you would most like to who you would least like to live in your neighborhood. Basically, you are supposed to talk about your assumptions about the person because of their job or whatever information you are given.
After that, everyone is given more information about each person, including their name and age. For example, you learn that Doctor you find out that he is Pakistani, and his wife wears a Niqab, and the gay nurse is a female who’s sexuality has been reject by her family, and the unemployed youth wants to move into the community so that he can get local jobs as a plumber. At this point you are asked to rank the potential neighbors again. This is to see if any of your initial reactions prove false and to see if any other perceptions or issues come up.
It was interesting listening to the teenagers, because though sometimes it was really hard to get out why they thought something, other times they were very upfront with what they thought. The whole group didn’t want a member of a specific association living in their neighborhood, even after hearing that he was disenchanted with it and not really participating in it anymore, just because he was associated with the association And the more male dominate groups admitted to not liking the gay nurse when they assumed it was a male, but as soon as they discovered it was a woman they did not care. They were very fun, and very willing to admit that they have biases and stereotypes, which was the goal of exercise; it’s a good step towards good relations.
by Hannah Kurtz