“Rectifying False Narratives”
There are false narratives living inside us. Narratives we’ve been taught to believe about a certain people group, institution or ideology that causes us to exhibit prejudice against the subjects of our narratives- often without even realizing it.
This means that we are inadvertently contributing to collective illness in our country, and it is harming the diverse community that is America.
During this time of the COVID19 pandemic, many false narratives are contributing to prejudice that stigmatizes people and mongers fear and xenophobia.
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False Narrative Stories
Asian American False Narrative- written by Ryan Kuja
“I was sitting in Starbucks when a group from China sat down at the table next to me. Unexpectedly, my body viscerally responded with tension. I was within 6 feet, the distance droplets can travel and enter the eyes, nose or mouth and cause infection. There were empty tables nearby, further away from them. Part of me wanted to move. It would have brought my anxiety down as well as a sense of calm through the elimination of the perceived threat. Of course, it I’d gotten up and moved tables, it would have been inconsiderate and rude. But it also would have been more than that. If I had gotten up to distance myself from the group from China, I wouldn’t have been practicing the “social distance” we are hearing from the experts as a key aspect of curbing contagion. Actually, I would have been practicing xenophobia.
There was no threat. I consciously knew that. So what caused the dysregulation in my body and mind? A narrative I wasn’t aware of. My body was giving me inaccurate information based on a narrative that I hadn’t realized was operative within me, and in our society more broadly, a racialized narrative that has identified Asian bodies as the origin of contagion, thereby stigmatizing them. Let’s all be mindful that this pandemic has not only been politicized, it’s also been racialized. Let’s all do the work of becoming aware of the narratives that sustain fear and stigmatize others.”
Where do we see extremism, racism, and other forms of hate manifesting due to false narratives that are rampant during this time of pandemic in local, state and national news stories?
National news stories expressing the reality of these harmful false narratives are compiled here. Please read to learn more about these realities!
If you publish news articles, write one on this topic, and would like it posted here, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
White supremacists are recruiting, spreading hate during this time of COVID-19 crisis. How is this happening, and how can the media fight this spread of hate?
1.) WHERE DO THESE FALSE NARRATIVES COME FROM?
2.) HOW DO FALSE NARRATIVES CONTROL OUR PROGRAMMED RESPONSE TO SITUATIONS?
3.) HOW CAN WE BEST SHOW UP IN THE SPACES THAT BELONG TO THE VICTIMS OF FALSE NARRATIVES?
1.) WHAT ARE SOME STRATEGIES FOR COUNTERING FALSE NARRATIVES?
2.) STAND UP AND SHOW UP FOR THE VICTIMS OF FALSE NARRATIVES
Methods of Recognizing
EMOTIONAL & BODY SYMPTOMs
ARE YOU FEELING-
towards another person, even though nothing they have done gives you reason to feel this way?
Harvard implicit bias test
Rectifying Method #1: Positivity in Sentences
When we are in a situation that triggers a false narrative in us, we FIRST: remind ourselves that it is our ‘false narrative sunglasses’ that are causing our negative feelings and thoughts about another human being. SECOND: replace our NEGATIVE REACTION with a positive thought!
Positive Sentence Thoughts:
- I affirm this person’s humanity.
- I affirm the inherent worth and value of the person in front of me.
- I see the differences of the person in front of me as beautiful.
- I choose not to believe the false narratives I’ve been taught to believe about this person; rather, I will get to know them before coming to ANY conclusions about who they are.
- (for fear) I know that logically, nothing this person has done indicates that they are at all dangerous. Instead of choosing to focus on the bad I’ve been taught to believe about them, I choose to focus on the good, and I affirm their inherent value and worth as a human being.
- (for anxiety) I have been taught to feel an aversion towards people who (look/behave/believe/think) like the person in front of me. Instead of focusing on this, I choose to affirm their humanity and recognize that we all have parts of ourselves that make us unique, and if those make me uncomfortable, that indicates to me that I likely need to learn more about them in order to really understand.
Rectifying Method #2: Conversation Guide
ILRS Method- How can you have conversations with family and friends about these false narratives? In order to facilitate conversations in which everyone can be heard, and you also have the newfound skills to have conversations with people who you disagree with, learning about them as well as sharing your perspective, here is a guide to conversation. (This is especially helpful in large group family/friend gatherings.:-)
- invite someone into conversation about false narratives
- ALWAYS get their permission
- ATTENTION matters… have the conversation at a time when both can focus. It’s okay to ask for distractions (i.e. phones) to be eliminated.
- START by asking a question, and make it about them (i.e. “do you know about false narratives? I’d really like to hear your thoughts about them. If they don’t know what false narratives are, explain briefly).
- DON’T ambush them
- DON’T immediately go into science or politics
- PREP FOR TAKEAWAY: at the end of a conversation, you want to have learned something from the other person. So if they don’t say much, don’t just assume it’s your turn- ask a different, maybe easier question.
- Practice listening. This may be the most difficult part, especially if you disagree and have strong feelings… but by listening, you create a space for the other person to feel valued and safe.
- DON’T interrupt
- RESIST any urge to respond right away.
- REMAIN open-minded and non-judgemental
- Practice reflective listening, because this is one of the most important ingredients for a conversation.
- REFLECT: once the other person is done speaking, reflect the main points of what you think you heard to them (be open to the idea that your interpretation of that may not have been correct).
- REFERENCE: reference specific points the other person spoke about while you reflect what you heard
- Share your experience and awareness of false narratives, without trying to change others’ minds– because by not trying to ‘change’ or ‘fix’ others’ thinking, you invite them into the opportunity to question their own thinking without attacking them or telling them they’re wrong.
- ASK: After you’ve reflected on what they’ve said to share your listening, ask, “Can I tell you what I’ve been thinking about?”
- EXPERTISM: recognize that you are not the expert on your topic (so don’t be arrogant) but you are the expert on yourself, so share how the issue impacts you.
- FACTS DON’T CHANGE MINDS- don’t TELL, and don’t use so many facts as you do stories
- END: go back and forth as long as you’d like. End by thanking them for talking, and share one thing you learned from them. This encourages future conversation to happen.
Share Counter Narratives!
Credit: Institute for Social Policy, HIAS
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In Michigan, Muslims make up only 2.75% of the population. But a Michigan without Muslims would lose…
- more than 1,600 new inventions
- the education of 30,000 students
- the cartoon of 100,000 jobs
- the representation of 2.3 million constituents
- the social services for 24,000 families in need
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Telling Counter Narratives About Arabs
How much do people really know about diverse people groups living in different parts of the world? How can we build a knowledge base for them that’s not based in false narratives, and counteract any false narratives that may exist under the surface with counter narratives?