“Aren’t you that new Muslim kid? Well, I don’t like brown people at my table, so I mean, if you could get up and start walking, that would be cool.”
In a recent social experiment, grade 12 student Ali K. put WCI students up to a challenge: how do they respond to racism?
In preparation for an English seminar, Ali asked fellow student Bryan PM. to use racist slanders towards him in front of a group of people unaware of the fact that they were being filmed as part of his experiment. In one case, Ali approached a table in the school’s library where Bryan and peers were sitting. Upon sitting down with the group, Bryan actually said the exact words above, later challenging Ali to “go outside” if he “had a problem.”
“Bryan acted pretty mean. And he looked tough. So I didn’t expect that much of a response,” said Ali, reflecting on his social experiment.
To his surprise, some of the bystanders took a positive stance, telling Ali that he could stay, while others simply sat, seemingly in shock.
“One girl’s face went from happy to sad. She was shocked,” said Ali.
In a later interview with the participants of the social experiment, Ali asked “What impact does media have on what you think of Muslims and brown people?” and “Don’t you think of Muslims generally as terrorists?” One group answered saying, “Terrorism doesn’t have a religion,” while another, however, admitted they fear the immigration of the Syrian refugees to Canada.
“That’s an issue, I think; that’s what I’m trying to fix,” said Ali.
Ali’s inspiration for his experiment was actually pulled from a social experiment that he saw on YouTube in which a man with a Turban drops his wallet and no one stops him to tell him or give it to him, while in another scenario, a caucasian man does the same and is helped by many.
“I get it, because people grew up in that environment. Their fear is all from stereotypes in the media,” said Ali.
Having lived in Iran for a larger portion of his childhood, Ali spoke about media coverage portraying only one side of a culture: “It goes both ways. I’ve lived in two different worlds; I’ve seen media here and there [in Iran]. They do the same thing there against American countries as they do here to the Arab and Muslim countries. They show shootings all the time, school shootings; they show the poverty and the ghetto places. Where I lived in Iran, I’m not sure what you think about it, but it is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot of places. But what they show here [about Iran] is the ghetto, downtown, broken places, and that’s just one hundredth of the whole country. They don’t show anything else. It’s the same thing over there: they show the gangs and the ghettos [in America]. So it doesn’t make me mad, because everyone does it, it’s just not right.”
If you are interested in viewing the footage of Ali’s social experiment, please contact Mrs. Crowell or Ali directly.FOLLOW FJORD: