People Sort is an activity which can be used as an icebreaker or opening activity for a youth group meeting focused on human dignity, immigration, or institutional racism. The point of this activity is that racial differences are based on a social construct rather than genetic differences. In fact, two people of European descent can have less genetic similarities to each other than they do to someone of Asian descent. See this article from Scientific American for some background material.
Use the debrief time to investigate this idea. Have an honest discussion about why we group people by race rather than other characteristics.
People Sort Activity
- Have everyone gather into a group. When each of the characteristics below is called out, have them sort themselves according to the group they belong to.
- Right handed or left handed
- Eye color (could be several groups)
- Hair color (could be several groups)
- Can curl tongue or cannot
- Dimples or no dimples
- Freckles or no freckles
- Curly hair or straight hair
- Make up some of your own
- Skin color (use the color of the underside of your forearm
- Gather back together for debrief. Discuss the following questions:
- When you sorted, were you usually with the same group of people or with different people? Why do you think that was?
- Do you think people make assumptions about a person based on the whether they can curl their tongues or have freckles or not? Why?
- Do you think people make assumptions about a person based on the color of his or her skin? Why? How is this different than the other traits we looked at?
- How do you think that history, society, and culture has an impact on how we view each other?