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Lemonheads and Whoppers—Professional Development Activity on Everyday Racial and Ethnic Diversity

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The purpose of the following activity from Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms is to begin thinking about your level of interaction with people of different races and ethnicities. The authors of this book explain why being involved in racially and ethnically diverse social networks forces us to incorporate opposing points of view into our shared realities. Research has shown that exposing people to diverse group contact can also reduce implicit racial bias. Use this exercise to see how racially and ethnically diverse your world is, and look for areas where you could expand the diversity of the people you interact with in working to decrease bias and build a more diverse world. 

Materials Needed

  • 1 piece of paper and a pen per person
  • A big box of Lemonhead candy to share
  • A big box of Whoppers candy to share
  • 1 empty container for each person

What to Do

After each question asked by the facilitator, the participants will respond by placing either a Lemonhead or a Whopper candy into their containers. The Lemonheads will represent people of your own race or ethnicity. The Whoppers represent people from another racial or ethnic group. 

  • Who was the last guest invited to your house for dinner?
  • Who was the last person you went out with socially?
  • Who is your family doctor?
  • Who is your family dentist?
  • Who makes up the majority of students in the classes you take?
  • Who makes up the majority of students in the classes you teach? (If you have not yet taught, the majority of students at the current/last university you attended.)
  • Who is the professor who is your academic advisor or whom you spend the most time with?
  • Who is your closest friend?
  • Who is your current or previous romantic partner?
  • Who is your spiritual leader?
  • Who is/was your employer at your current/last job?
  • Who makes up the majority of people at your favorite club/local hangout spot?
  • Who made up the majority of people in your childhood community?
  • Who is your favorite actor/actress?
  • Who is your favorite singer/group?

Reflection Questions 

On a piece of paper, respond to the following questions.

  • What does your visual representation show you?
  • Did you consider yourself to be someone who often interacted with others? Do you still?
  • How diverse is your network? Is it more diverse in some aspects (such as work) but not others (such as your personal life)?
  • If you have little to no exposure to people of a different racial or ethnic group, how can you make an effort to be more involved with others?
  • Did you ever stop to think of how often you communicate with people outside your group?
  • If you have little to no interaction with people outside your group, how does that affect your ability to teach in a diverse classroom

For more on addressing issues of bias, equity, low expectations, and family engagement to ensure culturally responsive experiences, including identifying your own unconscious biases, get the book Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms.

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