Paper or Plastic? Rethinking Bias

The large signs on the bus make some people uneasy. The Arabic characters drawn across the page are clearly a message, but what kind of message? A signal to a “sleeper” cell? A call to jihad?

Close observers will note that there is a translation at the bottom in English in small letters– “Paper or plastic?” is the meaning of one poster; others read “I”m a little teapot” or “Paper, Scissors, Rock” (above). Along with the translation is a challenging comment: “Misunderstanding can make anything scary,” and “What did you think it said?”

The posters are a project of the Virginia Interfaith Center, and are designed to get people thinking about their deeply-ingrained and seldom questioned prejudices. Over 170 buses in Richmond carry the signs and offer riders the chance to “rethink bias.”

Reactions have not all been positive but sponsors hope that, at least for a moment, people are given the opportunity to consider their own attitudes and how they affect relations with others in the community.

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