This week, several Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) buses began featuring ads that call attention to religious diversity and invite people to visit www.rethinkbias.org . This is part of a campaign, Rethink Bias, designed to challenge public perceptions of religious difference and help build greater understanding about the reasoning for particular religious practices. The posters on the outside of the buses feature people from the Muslim, Jewish and Sikh traditions. The photographs highlight their religious attire, specifically religious head dress, and invite the public to learn why this is an important aspect of religious observance.
Many of you will remember our previous Rethink Bias campaign that featured common American sayings written out in Arabic script. These posters challenged the public to see beyond their preconceptions about Arabic and the Muslim community at large. In that case, the script translated into simple sayings like, “Paper or Plastic?” or “I’m a little teapot.” Our current campaign invites people to ask why certain religious attire is important or meaningful.
Anisah is a woman with a beautiful smile who is a Muslim student at Virginia Commonwealth University. We asked a common question, “why do some Muslim women wear the hijab?” For Anisah, "it was about modesty." She explained that by wearing the hijab “people have no choice but to look at me for who I am rather than what I look like."
Other ads feature Rabbi Beck-Berman of Congregation Brith Achim in Petersburg, and cousins Harnek and Gurtej who are Sikh and wear turbans in observance of their faith and traditions.
For those of you in Richmond, look for the Rethink Bias bus ads the next time you see a GRTC bus coming your way! I invite everyone to visit www.rethinkbias.org to read more about the people featured in the ads and the ways in which they observe their faith. Finally, let us know what you think of the ads and the campaign. Your views are important to us and we do a better job when we hear from you.