How can we react upon encountering stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination? How can we counteract hate speech online? Which groups in Poland benefit from special legal protection? How to search for information on people who have made a successful stand against violence in various parts of the world? What is a “living library” and how to get started if you want to organise one?
Acting in cooperation with the HateStop campaign, we have invited various people who oppose hate speech to take part in our “Attitudes towards violence” educational course. The course formed an opportunity to enhance one’s competences in the field of identification of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination as well as the skills necessary to react to such phenomena. The course was attended by 20 people: activists of non-governmental organisations, students, teachers, academics and people who simply wanted to make a stand against xenophobia and other forms of prejudice. The programme included, among others, anti-discrimination workshops, meetings dedicated to the issue of hate crime as well as workshops during which the participants could learn how to eliminate online hate speech effectively. The group also met with the curators of the virtual exhibition presenting the profiles of modern-day Righteous.
The exploration of the “living library” – an educational method designed to allow course participants to confront stereotypes – formed a crucial part of the course. The idea of the “living library” originates in Denmark, where it was first coined back in the year 2000. The entire concept is based upon a conversation with a person who is perceived through the prism of stereotypes, which means that many people will treat such person with hostility and may sometimes discriminate against such person. The “living books” are the members of various ethnic minorities, homosexuals, disabled persons, followers of different religions as well as atheists, persons with different skin colours etc. During the meeting with the reader, the “books” tell their stories and answer questions, allowing the readers to take a look into their own world. In this way, they remind us that, regardless of our origins, family roots and professions, we all enjoy the same rights in society.
The participants of the course became acquainted with the concept and rules of the “living library” and have subsequently prepared and conducted this event, offering it to a wider public. The event was held at the POLIN Museum on March 19, 2017. Visitors had the opportunity to talk to people from various groups which face prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping in an informal, safe atmosphere.