Discrimination as a One-Day Performance Critically Reviewing an Anti-racism Day at School

  • Pia MikanderEmail author
  • Ida Hummelstedt-Djedou


This chapter revolves around an educational intervention at a Finnish primary school. The purpose is to examine the benefits and drawbacks of an anti-racist school intervention, which was planned and carried out in a primary school by one of the authors. The research questions can be summarised as: Can the event be described as challenging, or changing, discriminating racist structures? Can the event be described as reinforcing the division between the norm and the Other? And what strategies would be needed for more critical anti-racist interventions at school? The event, which concerned the whole school and was covered by the media, can be described as a roleplay: half of the pupils experienced discrimination by their teachers and classmates, and half of them were privileged. At midday, the roles were reversed. The aim was to create empathy for how it feels to be discriminated against. At the end of the day, each class discussed the experiment and related it to discussions about racism in the past and today. The pupils were encouraged to reflect upon their own feelings of being discriminated against. Many pupils were deeply affected by the event. We discuss the benefits and the drawbacks of the event. Even though the intervention may in some ways be described as successful, it can be critiqued from the point of view of critical multicultural education. While raising awareness about inequality and arousing empathy, the pedagogy of the event could still be categorised as ‘education about the Other’ (Kumashiro 2002), maintaining the structure of the privileged ‘us’ and the poor ‘them’,who need to be understood. This seems to be a common phenomenon within intercultural education, and it shows the need for a norm-critical approach. We discuss to what extent anti-racist activities based on the concept of privilege deconstruction (Case 2013) could bring more understanding to the students’ own roles in racism and anti-racist action.


Antiracism Anti-racist pedagogy Norm-criticism Privilege School 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nordic Center of Excellence Justice Through EducationHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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