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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CHAPTER 6: Discrimination, Stereotyping and Prejudice

This is the final Chapter in AAHA Learning's series on discrimination, stereotyping and prejudice. We hope you enjoyed these posts.

Reprinted from the Guardian, 30 April 1994

The healing process of democracy engulfs Peter Hain and the forces of apartheid he has campaigned against for three decades

The last time I saw Poen Rah Dong and Aubrey Apples was when they waved my family a tearful goodbye into exile at Pretoria railway station in March 1966. A few tears were shed again when I saw them after flying in as an international parliamentary observer last Sunday. All the children and grandchildren were lined up to greet me. Some proudly bore the names of my mother and father who had been harassed, jailed and banned in the grim early 1960s, finally to be forced to board the train from Pretoria to a ship in Cape Town on a one-way exit permit.

This first-ever democratic South African election has been a marvel. My parents voted – for the ANC – in London, having discovered their old South African identity cards. I visited polling stations in and around Johannesburg, metaphorically pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. After all those years, all the bitterness, the killings, the violence, the lives wasted away in prison and poverty, here it was actually happening before me, constitutional apartheid being exorcised.

Even the notorious white police force seemed happy and relaxed. The letter bomb I had received from their security wing, Boss, in June 1972, and memories of being labelled South Africa’s “Public Enemy No 1” after leading the British campaign to stop all-white sports tours in 1969-70 had made me pretty apprehensive about this visit. But the white policeman welcomed me as an election observer, even allowing a family photo as I stood amongst them, machine guns at ease. They were willing the election to succeed, relaxed in the sunshine, telling me how relieved they were it was all going peacefully as they guarded the democratic process which was ending their brutal decades of privilege and power.

The sense of joy gripped everyone. Blacks and whites queued together for hours, chatting for the first time as voting equals. The election became a healing process. ANC, Inkatha and National Party scrutineers chattered happily together in polling stations. A white NP councillor, schooled in years of apartheid rule, recognised me. "Are you the Peter Hain?" he asked in amazement. "Can I have your autograph?" Not so many years ago, he'd have cheerfully had me knee-capped. Ali Bacher, cricket supremo of the new United South African Cricket Board, welcomed me for the first time at Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium. He'd been captain of the 1970 Springbok side stopped from touring by our campaign of direct action protests.

A generation of some of the world's finest cricketers, including my boyhood hero, Graeme Pollock, had been forced into isolation. But Bacher showed no bitterness, "You were right, I was wrong," he volunteered for the first time on camera as I interviewed him. He went on to admit how sporting isolation had forced change, even though he had resisted the final process of non-racial cricket right up to organising the abortive Mike Gatting rebel cricket tour four years ago. One of the real victims, Khaya Majola, would certainly have made the Test team if apartheid had permitted. Now Bacher’s Director of Cricket Development in black townships, he enthusiastically backed my offer to welcome South African cricketers when they arrive in Britain this June – the first such tour since the one stopped in 1970.

And presiding over it, a man whose time has come, Nelson Mandela gave me a few moments as polling began. "Maybe I should be jumping around with joy," he remarked, "but I just feel at peace." Tranquillity personified as the burdens of power and the enormous tasks of reconstruction beckon. Out there somewhere is the old South Africa. The white extremists of the AWB bombed the ANC's Johannesburg office and narrowly missed our British MP observer group as we arrived. Their terrorism is still killing and maiming. But it is apartheid in rigor mortis. The New South Africa has stepped forward with a verve and excitement that is hard to believe but wondrous to behold.

by Robert Coles, Christianity Today, 9 August 1985

Ruby Bridges was a six-year-old African American girl in 1960, when she was one of the first children involved in desegregating the public schools in New Orleans in the United States. Every day she went to school accompanied by US federal marshals to protect her from the verbal abuse and death threats of crowds opposed to school integration.

A prominent psychiatrist examined her repeatedly over many months and marveled at finding her truly cheerful and serene. Then he discovered that she prayed twice a day for her tormentors. When asked why she did this, she answered, "Because they need praying for." She explained, "If you're going through what they're doing to you, you're the one who should be praying for them." She had learned in church that Jesus went through a lot of trouble. He said about the people who were causing the trouble, "Forgive them because they don't know what they're doing" (see Luke 23:34).

As an adult, Ruby is a mother and is active in public service.

Monday, December 6, 2010

CHAPTER 5: Discrimination, Stereotyping and Prejudice


Being able to instantly access what individuals and groups are thinking, feeling, wanting, needing, concluding, fearing, grappling with, etc, etc is something that really boggles my mind. Besides making visible what is normally invisible and transforming assumptions into realities this wonderful technology does something even more significant and that is to access and integrate the amazing power of the collective intellect, experience and knowledge of any number of people and to do so in an incredibly short space of time.

What I also really enjoyed about what David Wilson and Brett shared with us was the way in which responses to simple multiple choice questions triggered many other questions, comments and insights. From the experience we had it is obvious that the benefits of this technology hinge on the way in which the questions are posed and the honesty and accuracy of the responses received. I will certainly be exploring this again in the near future and if you are inclined to want to do the same here is the David Wilson's information:

Participate - Tel: 076 145 1475 - Email: davidw@participate.co.za -
Website: www.participate.co.za

The feedback we received after the discrimination experience is presented below:

Questions relating to discrimination criteria personally experienced

Note: Highest figures in RED and brackets = number of delegate responses)


A revealing and worthwhile experience?

Yes : 83.33% (25) No : 6.67% (2) Undecided : 10% (3)

A powerful antidote for discrimination and prejudice?

Yes : 83.33% (25) No : 6.67% (2) Undecided : 10% (3)

Would have preferred to have skipped this experience?

Yes : 10% (3) No : 83.33% (25) Undecided : 6.67% (2)

An experience I will always remember?

Yes : 86.67% (26) No : 3.33% (1) Undecided 10% (3)

An experience everyone should have?

Yes : 86.67% (26) No : 13.33% (4) Undecided : 0% (0)

Each graph below assesses a specific category of discrimination. It shows the percentage of participants involved with a particular degree or severity of discrimination against themselves and against others, where "1" represents a Mild degree of discrimination and "5" represents an Extreme degree. For each subcategory the number of responses varied between 6 and 25.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CHAPTER 4 : DISCRIMINATION, STEREOTYPING AND PREJUDICE : Assessing your attitude and behaviours

This is Chapter 4 in our series on Discrimination, Stereotypes and Prejudice.

This chapter consists of an Attitude Awareness Questionnaire with 19 questions. Please complete the questionnaire by clicking on this link: Attitude Awareness Questionnaire.

By completing the Attitude Awareness Questionnaire you will gain important insights into the way in which your attitudes, words and actions effect and influence others.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chapter 3: The Eye of the Storm - A Remarkable Story


Human Relations Film Series

By turning the spotlight on specific groups and cultures, this dramatic series produced by ABC News unveils a revealing portrait of what motivates people and how they cope with their life situations and/or problems.

In The Eye of the Storm a classroom situation is deliberately created to teach third graders how it feels to be on the receiving end of discrimination. In an animated version of Dickens' Christmas Carol, stingy, lonely old Scrooge discovers the meaning of Christmas.

The Eye of the Storm

This documentary explores the nature of prejudice in a dramatic third-grade classroom experiment conducted in a small Midwestern town, a town without ghettos, blacks, or campus unrest. It demonstrates how quickly wholesome, friendly schoolchildren can be infected with the ugly virus of discrimination that leads to frustration, broken friendships, and vicious behavior.


Jane Elliott, a perceptive teacher in the nearly all-white, all-Christian farming community of Riceville, Iowa, USA is deeply disturbed by the assassination of Martin Luther King. When one of her 16 third-grade pupils remarks, "They shot a King. Why did they shoot a King?" Mrs. Elliott decides to help her students understand the nature of prejudice by pretending to be prejudiced herself.

During Brotherhood Week she divides the class into two groups, blue-eyed children and brown-eyed children. She explains that blue-eyed children are more intelligent, better behaved, quicker to learn, and in every way superior to brown-eyed children. To call attention to the "inferior" brown-eyed children, the blue-eyed youngsters are told to place a collar around the neck of each brown-eyed child in the class. The collars are worn all day.

The "superior" blue-eyed children enjoy the exclusive privileges of sitting at the front of the class, using play- ground equipment, drinking from the fountain (brown-eyes use paper cups), going to recess first, eating lunch first, and so on.

The unjust treatment causes striking behavior changes in both sets of children. Happy to be on top, the blue-eyed youngsters act superior and aggressive. The brown-eyed children become unbelieving, unhappy, and finally want revenge.

The next day Mrs. Elliott explains that she had lied the day before. Blue-eyed children really aren't superior; the brown-eyed children are. After all, Mrs. Elliott has blue eyes herself, and she admitted to lying. The children accept her explanation, and collars are placed around the necks of the blue-eyed children. Behavior becomes more vicious, leading to name-calling and a fistfight between a blue-eyed and a brown-eyed boy.

At the end of the second day the teacher confesses to the children what she has done and why. She then leads them in a discussion of their experiences. When the class understands what happened, relief gushes out. The youngsters become animated, friendly, and happy and all join in singing a song – all but one boy still emotionally involved in tearing up his collar.

During the experiment, Mrs. Elliott learns more from the "superior" children – they become "ghastly." She also notes that ability to perform in the classroom undergoes considerable change. Children wearing collars take twice as long to read phonic materials from a card pack. Afterward they explain they "couldn't concentrate" on school work when they were so unhappy.

The class was easily freed from the prison of prejudice by a teacher. But countless other people remain in that prison, and this is the bitter point of The Eye of the Storm.

Before Viewing

Depending on the audience and objectives, the film can be introduced with questions such as:

  • Do children instinctively hate people different from themselves?
  • Can a society be taught to hate? Can you think of examples of this in history? In our society today?
  • Do you think that some races of people are biologically superior to others? Explain.
  • What is prejudice? Is it learned? Who teaches it? If you think it is taught. Why is it taught? Then before showing the film on how children are taught to be prejudiced, request that behavior changes should be carefully noted.

After Viewing

The film can generate lively discussion with questions and topics such as:

  • Do you sometimes make judgments about others that you think are really prejudiced? Discuss.
  • Can you suggest ways to reduce prejudice?
  • What do you think should be done in the schools to teach children to appreciate others as individuals, without prejudice because of race, religion, or nationality?
  • Why did Mrs. Elliott claim she learned more from the "superior" children?
  • What are the implications of being under emotional stress while trying to learn? What is the responsibility of the schools in this regard? Of the church? Of the family?
  • Do you agree with Mrs. Elliott's claim that "Children have to find out... . They have to be involved... . They have to know how it feels to be stepped upon." Why?
  • Do you think only minority groups are discriminated against in our society? Can you think of examples in which minority groups discriminated against majority groups? Explain how the discrimination works.
  • What do you think will happen if prejudice and discrimination continue unchanged in our society?

Follow-Up Activities

  1. Make a list of examples of prejudice that:

    • Viewers have experienced themselves.
    • Viewers have learned about from radio, TV, or reading.
  2. Recommended reading Lord of the Flies.Discuss the possibility that without rules of a society to guide and protect them, young children would become savage, cruel, and primitive.
  3. Role-playing in which the following roles are played out:

    • Black policeman trying to break up a crowd of white demonstrators.
    • White policeman trying to do the same with black demonstrators.
    • Situations invented to reveal attitudes and emotions about discrimination
  4. Divide the participants into groups by religion, color, sex, nationality. Ask each group to list the five things they most want in life. Compare the lists of the groups. Do they have anything in common? What?

Related Recommended Reading

  • Allport, Gordon W. The Nature of Prejudice. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1954.
  • Clark, Kenneth B. Prejudice and Your Child. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1955.
  • Clark, Kenneth B. Dark Ghetto. New York: Harper & Row-, 1965.
  • Gardiner, Robert. World of Peoples. New York; Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • Glock, Charles Y. and Ellen Siegelman, eds. Prejudice U.S.A. New York: Praeger, 1969.
  • Glock, Charles Y. and Rooney Stark. Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism New York: Harper & Row, 1966.
  • Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Coward McCann Inc., 1962.
  • Pettigrew, Thomas F. A Profile of the Negro American. Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand. 1964.
  • Powdermaker, Hortense. Probing Our Prejudices. New York: Harper & Row, 1944.
  • Williams, Robin M., Jr. Strangers Next Door: Ethnic Relations in American Communities. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964.

Monday, October 25, 2010

CHAPTER 2: Discrimination, Stereotyping and Prejudice: Understanding Through Direct Experience

As promised, here is the second chapter in our series about discrimination, stereotyping and prejudice.  Stay tuned for Chapters 3, 4 , 5 and 6, at two-weekly intervals.
A STEREOTYPE is a fixed perception, belief, paradigm, attitude and/or generalisation about yourself, others, a concept, a place or an event.

A STEREOTYPE has the following ADVANTAGES:
a)         Helps you create boundaries
b)         Assists you to make sense of your world
c)         Serves as a base for your behaviours and actions.

A STEREOTYPE also has the following DISADVANTAGES:
a)         Can block or distort your view of reality or the truth
b)         May seriously hamper communication and co-operation
c)         Can foster aggression and promote competition
d)         May give rise to PREJUDICE and DISCRIMINATION

Bear in mind that since we all belong to specific groups, it is easy to compare our group to other groups and favour the one we belong to.  Whenever any stereotype becomes staid and inflexible and your actions/words arising from them hurt, disadvantage or injure others, you are guilty of discrimination and prejudice.

Some important points to remember are :

  •  Recognise that your deeply held beliefs/attitudes and in particular your religious convictions may significantly influence your perceptions and behaviours towards other groups/people.  It is not a matter of having to  change your deeply held values or convictions but rather to learn to disagree gracefully.  To do this you need to develop the capacity to hold and respect opposing points of view at the same time.  Just as a sieve cannot hold water unless it is immersed in it, you too will not capture the essence of valuing diversity unless you are prepared  to immerse all of you, mind, heart, body and spirit in the process.
  • Bear in mind that many seemingly harmless acts can be discriminatory.  Adverts, gossip, talk shows, articles and jokes may also fall into this category.
  • The three common roles associated with discrimination are the oppressor, the oppressed and the onlooker.  The  oppressor's role promotes a heightened sense of superiority, power, aggression, satisfaction and justification.The oppressed role engenders a sense of anger, fear, resentment, revenge, confusion, insecurity and disempowerment.  The onlooker's role is commonly associated with passive approval or disapproval, guilt, denial and/or confusion.  Note that role reversals can occur quickly and subtly particularly under emotionally charged circumstances.
  • Truly valuing diversity cannot be achieved by merely focusing on facts, figures, policies or intellectual reasoning.  Very often these may actually hinder what it is that people really need to address and where it is that they need to go together.  What is essential is to return to the heart of the matter or the roots of our common humanity.  Only from here do we begin to open up, dare to take off our masks and bring down the barriers, real or perceived, that we use to separate, isolate and alienate ourselves from others.
Jesse Jackson's quote : "The only justification for looking down on someone is when you are about to pick them up", constitutes a powerful antidote for prejudice and discrimination.

  • The natural order and the truth inherent in it are abundant with examples of the beauty of diversity.  A majestic tree has branches stretching out in different directions, with variations in shape, thickness and length.  All these different branches, leaves, flowers and fruit are intimately connected through the trunk and deeply rooted to the very same grounding source.  And so it is with the human race - our different branches of race, culture, gender, age, abilities and aspirations sculpt who we are and what we do in the world.  Diversity is a principle of life harmoniously manifested in the natural world amongst all life forms with the exception of human beings.  In order to heal the heart of diversity do we not need to reason and act with deep connection to the truth which lies in the nature of things?
  • A wider more spiritual sense of compassion, tolerance and brotherhood is an essential tool in dealing with acts of prejudice, discrimination and violence.
  • Common issues/questions that surface in diversity learningshops are: constitutionalised discrimination; feelings of historical woundedness; remaining victimised by internalised racism; what does it mean to be an ally?; will you support us in tough times?; the guilt and shame of discriminators; the privileged group never have to think about being White, heterosexual, Christian or male; is it safe to hold my deep assumptions up for examination?
  • In a prejudiced state we filter out, ignore or are blind to any positive or valuable traits or characteristics in a person/group.
  • Anger and disagreement should not arise from a prejudice or stereotype but from a specific situation or circumstance.
  • To counter prejudice we must:
  1. Meet people as unique individuals.
  2. Walk in other people's shoes.
  3. Become more aware.
  4. Consciously be aware of our stereotypes and how they may impact on others

  • So much of the human wisdom and expertise about health, holism and community living is embodied in the world's different cultures.  Unless we meaningfully communicate and interact with people who are different from us, our perceptions will become less robust, our concerns too insular and our vision stale.
  • Preserving and nurturing diversity in all its manifestations may constitute one of the most significant challenges of our time.  A new appreciation for the power and integrity of our collective heritage, collaborative action on behalf of common goals and new approaches to cultural healing and social entrepreneurship will only be achieved when our focus shifts from the mere exchange of information to a real heartfelt commitment to building authentic community and valuing diversity.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Discrimination, Stereotyping and Prejudice: Understanding Through Direct Experience

What should be of particular interest to readers is the thorny topic of DISCRIMINATION, STEREOTYPING AND PREJUDICE. These are arguably  the most destructive and harmful forms of human behaviour on this planet. The more we discuss, debate and explore them the better.  Dr Copley pioneered a unique discrimination workshop in 1990 which has resulted in many thousands of people having this experience. AAHA Learning will be presenting a TRUE DISCRIMINATION STORY and will present this in 6 short chapters - one chapter approximately every two weeks.


Every life experience whether we like it or not, has the potential to teach us something.  Very often our biggest lessons are learned from unexpected, stressful and painful experiences Great variations exist in what we may learn from painful experiences.  Adolf Hitler for example was bullied as a child and discriminated against as an adult.  His response was the genocide of 6 million Jews, the ultimate act of discrimination.  Nelson Mandela on the other hand suffered a lifetime of discrimination, 27 years of which were in prison and yet was able to demonstrate almost Christ-like forgiveness in his role as the South African President.  The fact that one man learnt to hate and the other learnt to forgive and that both models then served as lessons for millions of others, is a potent reminder of the complexity and mystery of life.

The discrimination lesson or exercise was first used by an American primary school teacher Jane Elliott in the 1960's.  Her blue/brown-eyed exercise in discrimination has become world famous receiving wide support from educationists, psychologists, psychiatrists and human rights activists.  A best selling training video "The eye of the storm" has and continues to be used in schools, churches, organisations and institutions throughout the world by people who are concerned about the devastating effects of prejudice and discrimination. Many people using this model do not have the confidence, courage and skills to create a holistic experience of discrimination and prefer to teach their lesson through group discussions, role plays and analyses of the video.  While this approach does heighten people's awareness and cognitive understanding it does little or nothing at the emotional, physical, social and spiritual levels.


After seeing the video in 1990 I designed with the help of Johan Greeff a clinical psychologist, a holistic experience of discrimination which by all accounts was the first of its kind to be used in the South African apartheid era.  The results we achieved were significant and very soon other facilitators began to use the exercise.

Two major organisations, The South African Defence Force and Old Mutual, used the exercise extensively for a number of years.  Lance Bloch, a Defence Force clinical psychologist who later became one of my associates received the prestigious FOYSA and TOYP awards, the latter being presented by President Mandela himself for his work on diversity.  A major part of his diversity workshops involved the discrimination exercise.

Susan Nel, a clinical psychologist from Old Mutual who was also one of my associates designed with colleagues a very successful discrimination experience called "Eye to Eye".  Many thousands of Old Mutual staff went through the experience over a 3 year period.  Although I have no scientific evidence to substantiate it I believe that the many discrimination workshops conducted in South Africa between 1990 and 1994 contributed at some level to the almost miraculous peaceful elections in 1994.

What there is little doubt about however is the fact that with a 50-year history of constitutionalised racial discrimination many millions of South Africans who passively by accepting apartheid or actively by practising it, perpetuated a system riddled with prejudice and discrimination.  Clearly there is a pressing need for these people and particularly White South Africans, to be sensitised to and inoculated against the devastating forms of discrimination in its many blatant and subtle variations and manifestations.


Since the first discrimination exercise in 1990 we have learnt a great deal on how to structure, conduct and debrief what is unquestionably a profound and emotionally charged experience. Although our presentations and methods have changed and evolved over time one thing has remained constant namely our SPIRIT OF INTENT.  Our objectives are to create a realistic short term, holistic experience of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination which will provide highly relevant personal insights into :

-  Unconscious habitual stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination behaviours. 
-  How easily and quickly group divisions and separations can be created, intensified and accepted.
-  The individual and collective wounds and scars of different types of discrimination.
-  How stereotypes, traditions, ideologies and groupings give rise to prejudice, biases and discrimination.
-  Techniques that can be used to break the insidious and vicious prejudice/discrimination cycle.
-  Fostering kindness, fairness, compassion and empathy.
-  Managing conflict, resentment and anger.
-  Accepting and honouring diversity.

Note :  It is important that participating delegates are not told that they are going to have a very realistic experience of stereotyping and discrimination because this will significantly reduce the learning impact and understanding of this unique experience.
Using the discrimination exercise is always a gut wrenching experience for me because of the potential pain, hurt, stress and frustration which it may elicit in the short term. It is however a very conscious choice and carefully calculated risk I am prepared to take and accept. I am convinced that it provides a very effective and unforgettable anti-dote for what I consider to be the most damaging form of human behavior. There can be little doubt that many of the challenges facing human beings and South Africans in particular will be significantly reduced if we can heal the hurts of the past and eradicate current discriminatory practices based on differences in race, sex, class, age, religion, culture and many more.  Desmond Tutu made the statement “Without memory there is no healing and without forgiveness there is no future”. Seeking and finding peaceful solutions is a pressing demand not a casual choice. Valuing and nurturing human diversity is I believe the single most important need for both this country and our planet……this then is the spirit of our intent and my reason for continuing to present the discrimination experience for the past 20 years.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Transforming Ordinary Events into Extraordinary Occasions


Is your forthcoming conference, launch, indaba, wedding, party or reunion  in danger of being conventional, mundane, boring, more of the same and  devoid of any originality, essence and meaning?

Dr Bruce Copley the internationally acclaimed holistic edutainer and his talented associates masterfully transform any occasion or gathering into an extraordinary and unforgettable experience. This is achieved through their unique holistic approach that integrates state of the art equipment, cutting edge techniques and ancient light, fire, sound, colour, story, poetry, music, rhythm and nature practices and customs.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take,
but rather by the moments that take your breath away!



Thank you for making our wedding a very beautiful and unforgettable experience for us and all our guests....Dr Bernard Brom

"You crafted a magical mix of atmosphere and melody which effortlessly complemented the setting and proceedings of our wedding. Your enthusiasm for what we wanted, your willingness to search for what would work and your keenness to partake in the whole event were  a great gift to us.”…Mr  Malcolm Fair

Inviting you to bring your magic to my 40th birthday celebration proved to be a huge blessing for us all.  You are truly a master of your trade......Mr Heine Du Toit  

For further information contact Dr Bruce Copley on tel 083 459 9894  or bruce@aahalearning.com  or www.aahalearning.com