I’ve been thinking about an activity. A game, to be specific. I call it the “Racist War” in my head. And it’s not what you think. But in some ways, it’s exactly what you think. The point of this game is *not* about trying “out-racist” another player. It’s about trying to “out-racist” yourself.
The truth is, I don’t really know if it’ll work. Here’s how I envision the game:
The players are randomly divided into teams. Each team will then select/assign players to represent their team for each round. Each round involves the bellowing of racial stereotypes to the other player, or creative imaginary “weapons” based on racial stereotypes–but the racial stereotypes can only be self-referential. This is extremely important. The players will then “attack” each other with their own stereotypes or imaginary weapons, to which the crowd will react and act as the judge. The judging will kind of be like a dance-off, in which the winner will naturally emerge based on the degree of reaction from the crowd. It can also be done in groups, aka a group battle, which might be better because it will promote a team-spirit and bring people closer.
For example, a Japanese person can yell, “SUSHI BOMB!” while a Chinese person can respond, “FORTUNE COOKIE SHELL” to block off the “attack”.
The point of this game is to create a more socially open and accepting atmosphere through humour. It will also be way to neutralize tension surrounding racial stereotyping, racial profiling, or any kind of tension that arises alongside the notion of “race”. It is a way to “become human” through the act of “laughing at ourselves”, as well as neutralize our “perceived differences” in an environment that is friendly and open-minded. Essentially, it is an act of deconstruction, in which we embrace the stereotypes and acknowledge our differences, and come to understand that we are not different, after all. We are just people.
Because of the message it promotes (or seeks to promote): that we are all people, it can be extended to deconstruct issues other than race. For example, sexism, although in that case, the players will have to be divided by gender, which can be problematic in and of itself since the point of the game is to bring people together–not dividing them.
The game will also give the participants an opportunity to confront the awkward spaces around race: the fear of offending someone, nervous overthinking, projected racism etc. This game will facilitate social acceptance and openness through humour.
Ideally speaking, anyhow.
The question is: will it work?
What if it goes wrong? How do you ensure that this game is “healthy”? Or is it healthy to begin with? It is perfectly possible that in its attempts to nullify racial stereotypes and racial tension, it ends up cloning the invisible elephants in the room and driving them into a beastly stampede?
Ideally, it’s meant to bring people together. What if it ends up dividing people and fueling unnecessary anger? Perhaps, it will be useful for people to confront their anger and subsequently identify the source of their anger–after all, this is one of the things this game is trying to promote–understanding. Openness. Honesty. Sincerity. Acceptance. Can it still be ultimately positive if it brings nothing but anger and outrage?
After all, how do you kill the invisible elephant in the room? You make it appear before you, in solid form, be it anger.
The success of this game really depends on the crowd, and the host–I suppose. The host will have to be quick thinking, witty, poignantly funny, and assertive. He or she will need to have enough knowledge about racial issues to address and mediate the “stereotype weapons”, and to direct the “mood” and ensure that the direction is healthy and positive. To guide us towards the right path, so to speak. Of course, the crowd is equally important. Their backgrounds and attitudes and their willingness to participate will also affect the outcome of the game.
I was quite excited when I came up with the idea, but obviously, there are many things to consider–given race is a touchy subject. The main question right now is: will it work? And also…is this a good idea? Yes, it could be potentially awkward, offensive, and negative, but I think humour can do wondrous things. I believe in the power to laugh at ourselves and at a silly thing such as racism. I believe that if it is done correctly, with enough understanding and open-mindedness, it just might work.
It just might work.